New Proposal Would Mean Pay Increase for Tens of Thousands of Feds

Late last week, in a move potentially impacting tens of thousands of federal employees, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) announced a new proposal “to establish four new General Schedule locality pay areas,” according to Federal Times’ Jessie Bur.

For the first time, the administration “agreed to use updated commuting pattern data as part of the methodology it used to calculate federal pay,” writes Federal News Radio’s Nicole Ogrysko. The move is said to mean a pay increase for 62,000 federal employees, with OPM creating pay areas in Birmingham-Hoover-Talladega, Alabama; Burlington-South Burlington, Vermont; San Antonio-New Braunfels-Pearsall, Texas; and Virginia Beach-Norfolk, Virginia.

However, as Bur reports, the OPM proposal notes potential downsides to this move. Under existing practice, “in the event of additions” to the locality pay list, the federal government allocates “the same amount of funds established for pay increases across the larger number of employees,” which “could thus result in relatively lower pay increases for employees in existing locality pay areas than they would otherwise receive.”

The decision is also said to include “a few other small changes to existing locality pay areas.”

Bur writes that locality pay areas are determined “by measuring the cost of living in certain parts of the country against the standard government pay schedule.” Since at least 2015, the Federal Salary Council has recommended that the four newly-announced localities be added to the existing 46.

Ogrysko writes that, “once OPM completes the regulatory process, the president must set locality pay rates for the four new areas, which typically occurs at the very end of each calendar year.”

The proposal has been opened up for public comment, and those interested in commenting may do so online or via e-mail.

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