Pay-for-performance effort begins

House hearing slated for March 9 will examine whether feds are underpaid

Federal employees’ compensation has become a hot topic in the present budget-crunch environment. Although Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry believes that government pay is fair, he also seems open to reforming the General Schedule pay system.

Berry is scheduled to testify at a House hearing titled, “ Are Federal Workers Underpaid?" held by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee's Federal Workforce.  Subcommittee Chairman Dennis Ross (R- Fla.), has said the session will be his first step towards establishing a federal pay-for-performance system intended to facilitate a reduction in the federal workforce of at least 10 percent.


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Pay for performance back on the table


In testimony prepared for the hearing, Berry said, “I have said before that the system is six decades old and could use a reexamination. But even if the system is not perfect, we must reject misleading uses of data that perpetuates the myth that federal employees are as a whole overcompensated.”

Berry said the current system is also not ideal for comparing compensation between federal and non-federal occupations, noting that this “does not reflect the complexity of the world we live.”

“Any reforms we undertake must meet the following principles that the existing GS system does well: transparency, equal pay for equal work, no political influence, ability to recruit and retain a well-qualified workforce,” he adds.

Other witnesses to testify include James Sherk, senior policy analyst in labor economics at the Heritage Foundation, and Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.

Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service and who is also set to testify, says in his written testimony that Congress might be asking the wrong question.

“I respectfully submit that the real question that needs to be addressed by Congress and the Administration is not whether the laws government federal pay should be changed but rather how they should be changed,” Stier says in the prepared testimony.

He offers core principles that include setting federal pay based on the market for talent needed, gathering more complete data, assessing the quality of new hires, reforming the federal job classification system, and designing a pay system that is flexible to incorporate most, if not all, federal organizations.

 

About the Author

Alyah Khan is a staff writer covering IT policy.

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