Workforce Wonk

By Alyah Khan

Blog archive

Workforce still under fire, no end in sight

Tired of all the talk about how much feds get paid? Well, too bad, because there’s plenty more to discuss.

President Barack Obama’s two-year freeze on federal employee salaries appears to just have been the tip of the iceberg in the conversation about restricting federal pay due to budget constraints.

Senior administration officials released a memo June 10 directing agencies to cap performance awards for senior-level employees at 5 percent of their aggregate salary and, for all other workers, at 1 percent. The cap is effective through fiscal 2012.

A draft copy of the memo was obtained and first reported on by the Washington Post in May.

John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, and Jeffrey Zients, chief performance officer and deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, wrote in the recent memo that some feds have come to expect awards as part of their compensation.

“This guidance specifically calls on agencies to adopt more rigorous employee performance management processes that incorporate consistent supervisor communication and feedback, establish accountability at all levels, and provide transparent and credible appraisal systems,” the officials wrote.

However, the limitations don’t apply to political appointees and won’t affect recruitment, retention or relocation incentives, according to the memo.

Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association, said in a report by Government Executive that she is concerned the total number of performance awards will decrease.

Meanwhile, Berry sent another memo June 8 to agency heads to remind them that within-grade salary increases should not be granted to employees with ratings below the “fully successful” level. “The payment of within-grade increases should never be viewed as automatic or routine,” Berry wrote.

What do you think about the cap on federal employee bonuses? Do you think the caps are fair? Why or why not? And, what do you think about Berry’s memo on within-grade increases? Do you think feds – particularly underperforming ones – feel that awards should be guaranteed?

Posted by Alyah Khan on Jun 14, 2011 at 12:20 PM


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