GAO to move employees to market-based pay

The New Year brings a new pay system for employees at the Government Accountability Office.

GAO, which has been a leader in federal personnel reform and holds an exemption from most civil service rules, is introducing market sensitivity to its pay scale. The audit agency hired the global consulting firm Watson Wyatt to conduct a study of compensation for analysts and is making several changes based on those findings.

This year, the GAO is guaranteeing that all employees with a "meets expectation" or higher rating will receive at least a 2.6 percent salary adjustment, as long as their pay falls within a competitive market range. All pay hikes beyond that will be tied directly to performance ratings. Watson Wyatt found that comparable employers were raising pay 2.6 percent this year.

Analysts will be placed in one of four paybands, rather than three. The middle band is being split into two, with a higher compensation range available in the upper band for employees deemed to have supervisory roles.

The compensation study, which examined similar agencies such as the Office of Management and Budget and the Congressional Budget Office, as well as think tanks, not-for-profit groups and private accounting and consulting firms, found that GAO was paying too much for some analysts but not enough for supervisors.

Comptroller General David Walker, who heads GAO, said the agency should have conducted a market study when it launched the bands in 1989. He is encouraging all agencies moving from the General Schedule to a system of broad paybands to complete a market study at the start.

"Had we done the market-based study in 1989, I believe we would have set up four pay ranges, and we would have never had to have dealt with the…issue," Walker said. "The assumption was the GS pay ranges represented the market. Those assumptions may or may not be valid."

GAO analysts in the newly split band had the option to apply for placement in the better-paid supervisory band. Walker said decisions were made in a multilevel process, are open to appeal and will take effect on Jan. 9.

The decision will be based on three factors, he said: "What were the actual roles and responsibilities that these individuals had over the last several years? What was their actual and relative performance as compared to their peer group over the last several years? And number three, did they have the ability to immediately perform at a 'meets expectation' level or better."

Pay for the supervisory band will be up to $10,000 more than current levels, maxing out at $128,300 for the Washington, D.C., area. Only employees rated in the top half of their peers in this band will be eligible to achieve more than $118,000, however.

The lower, nonsupervisory band's maximum for Washington is $101,600.

Walker said no one's salary will be cut, but some employees' potential future earnings could be lower as a result of the market study.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

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

    Download

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