Legislators Push for Higher Pay


Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., and Sen. Paul Sarbanes, D-Md., Tuesday announced they will introduce the Federal Employee Pay Fairness Act, a bill designed to give federal employees higher pay raises under the 1990 Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act.

Hoyer said the new bill will close a "major" loophole in FEPCA that allowed the administration to propose federal pay raises much lower than the law recommended.

FEPCA lays out a formula to grant annual locality pay raises to close the pay gap between the federal and nonfederal sectors. The original goal of the legislation was to bridge the gap almost completely by 2002. But only 30 percent of the pay gap has been closed, Hoyer said, when 70 percent should be.

"When we adopted FEPCA, everyone was concerned about the very large federal deficit," Hoyer explained at a press conference. "So we added a clause that says in times of severe economic conditions, FEPCA can be overlooked."

The new legislation, however, will specifically define "severe economic conditions" as two consecutive quarters of negative growth in the Gross Domestic Product. This way, Hoyer said, the administration cannot circumvent FEPCA.

"What this legislation does is change a subjective standard into an objective standard," Sarbanes said.

Hoyer said that since the economy is at its strongest point in more than 25 years, it's time for the administration to fulfill the spirit of FEPCA.

"We cannot continue to ask federal employees to give their fair share to get our house in order economically when it already is in order," Hoyer said, referring to the fact that the federal budget deficit has been all but eliminated.

The Federal Salary Council, a body that recommends raises each year under FEPCA, called for a 13 percent pay raise in 1999. Union leaders said they would settle for a 6 percent increase, but the Clinton administration opted to recommend a 3.1 percent raise in its fiscal 1999 budget.

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., who is co-sponsoring the bill in the Senate with Sarbanes, said the administration's proposal is not enough.

"We must maintain our robust economy by providing equal pay for equal work," Mikulski said. "I stood with federal employees and fought for fairness during the government shutdown, and I'm standing with them today to fight for pay equity." The legislation "provides appropriate pay for excellent employees," Sarbanes said. "We need to say to our valued employees that now we're going to keep our promises we made."

Federal union leaders embraced the proposal.

"It's about time federal workers were allowed to share in the prosperity of the nation they serve," National Treasury Employees Union President Robert Tobias said.

Professional Manager's Association President Ray Woolner said that the extraordinary accomplishments of federal employees during the past several years should be acknowledged. "For more than a decade now, the managers and employees of the federal government have contributed, more than any other working group, to the creation of a balanced budget by giving up comparability raises and enduring decreased benefits," he said.

Federal Managers Association president Michael Styles also praised Hoyer's and Sarbanes' efforts. "They realize that due to the administration's lack of full implementation of the pay law in 1990, the system now lacks credibility," he said.

Joining Hoyer and Sarbanes as co-sponsors of the legislation are: Rep. Jim Moran, D-Va., Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., Rep. Harold Ford, D-Tenn., Rep. Connie Morella, R-Md., Rep. Albert Wynn, D-Md., Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., Sen. Bill Jefferson, D-La., and Rep. Norman Sisisky, D-Va.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.