OPM Floats Pay, Job Reforms


Federal agencies would be granted more flexibility in classifying jobs and setting salaries under a draft legislative proposal being circulated by the Office of Personnel Management.

In an outline of OPM's 1998 human resources management initiatives, the agency says its top priority this year is to "equip agencies with the flexible systems they need to manage their human resources effectively."

This will involve convincing Congress to modernize the government's current job classification system by establishing a governmentwide pay-banding authority and by creating more flexible pay administration features.

"OPM is taking the position that human resources management flexibilities is something that should be looked at governmentwide rather than having an unsystematic piece-by-piece loosening up of the HR systems," an OPM spokesperson said.

The proposal would permit agencies, within "certain parameters," to set salaries and classify employees via pay bands. Agencies would be given the authority to set the limits of pay bands and within-range adjustments for some or all GS employees.

"Agencies would have to use the General Schedule as the background. They wouldn't be redesigning a salary schedule from scratch," the spokesperson said. "This would just give agencies the go-ahead to do this without having to be a demonstration project."

The draft also includes several minor changes to the pay-setting process. "There are aspects of existing pay authorities that don't work together. The gears in the system don't go smoothly," the spokesperson said.

OPM's answer: update special pay-rate systems; calculate lump-sum annual leave on the basis of pay rate at separation; establish a within-range pay reduction mechanism and eliminate the appeal right for denial of within-grade pay increases.

OPM also plans to grant agencies the ability to create new incentive awards. The draft mentions establishing a lump-sum variable payment based on achieving group results and raising the limit on cash awards that may be granted without outside approval.

OPM is also trying to come up with recommendations to "reframe the highest echelon of government into a senior civil service consistent with the original vision of the Senior Executive Service."

"The way the SES was set up wasn't exactly wrong, but it's that we need to refresh some of it and sort of revisit it," the OPM spokesperson said.

OPM has yet to finalize specific proposals for changes in the SES, but says it wants to "strengthen systems for holding executives accountable for producing results." In that process, the agency plans on improving tools for educating executives and fostering executive mobility as a "means for broadening the executives' perspectives."

Although OPM officials say the draft outline should not be considered a "big civil service reform package," the agency plans on "pursuing what [they] can" throughout the year.

"We're not baking a cake here," the OPM spokesperson said. "We're baking cupcakes."

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:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


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