Big Pay Raise Recommended

The Federal Salary Council has recommended that federal employees receive an average locality pay increase of 14.3 percent in 1998.

Under the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA) of 1990, the council is required to make annual recommendations on closing the gap between federal and nonfederal pay rates. But loopholes in the law have allowed Congress and the Clinton and Bush administrations to bypass those recommendations.

Last March, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average gap between federal and non-federal salaries nationwide was 30.03 percent. Clinton Administration officials have criticized the methodology BLS uses to arrive at its pay gap figures.

In announcing its recommendations, the Federal Salary Council noted "with growing concern" that it believes a large increase is necessary in 1998 "not because of the movement in nonfederal pay, but rather because of congressional and presidential action to limit the locality pay increases called for under FEPCA."

Federal union leaders were quick to endorse the council's recommendations. "One of the biggest challenges facing the federal government is to maintain a quality workforce, which means competing for talent with private sector employers," said Robert M. Tobias, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.

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