GAO, union reach agreement on 2008 pay raises

The first-ever labor union at the Government Accountability Office has reached a tentative agreement with management on how the 2008 pay raise will be determined for the agency's 1,800 analysts.

Under the agreement, all permanent agency employees who receive a rating of "meets expectations" or higher are guaranteed an overall pay increase of 4.49 percent, a raise equal to what Washington-area General Schedule employees received this year. High-performing analysts at the independent legislative agency will be eligible for performance-based increases above that figure.

The only analysts who will not receive the 4.49 percent pay boost are the agency's probationary employees, who will receive a 3.5 percent across-the-board increase. Probationary employees are temporary workers who have the opportunity to become permanent after a certain amount of time. Unlike other analysts, probationary employees will get another raise in six months amounting to more than the 4.49 percent figure.

The move comes more than a month after the rest of the federal workforce saw across-the-board and locality-based increases in their paychecks. The union said the delay was necessary to ensure pay parity with the executive branch and to guarantee that every GAO employee who achieves a rating of "meets expectations" or above would earn an annual adjustment.

Analysts have until the close of business on Thursday to vote on the pay proposal. All salaries will be retroactive to Jan. 6.

The agreement is likely to please many House lawmakers, who sent a letter to Comptroller General David M. Walker on Jan. 30, calling for parity in pay adjustments between GAO and the rest of the federal government.

"GAO employees are no less valued than their counterparts in the federal workforce, and we believe they should be included in the rest of the federal workforce when it comes to parity," the lawmakers wrote. "Denying GAO employees the congressionally approved pay adjustment of 4.49 percent for 2008 would weaken pay comparability within the federal sector and the private sector."

Many analysts indicated on Monday that the agreement was a good first step to ensuring what they call "pay justice" at GAO. In 2006 and 2007, Walker reassigned 800 of 1,200 senior analysts to a lower pay category and froze pay increases for hundreds of employees, arguing that a 2004 study conducted by consulting firm Watson Wyatt determined that many GAO analysts were paid above market levels.

Dissatisfaction over the pay changes was one of the major driving factors behind unionization at the agency. The pay restructuring also has come under harsh criticism from many lawmakers and other human capital experts.

"The agreement is one inch back toward pay justice, but does not constitute complete pay justice," said Robert Kershaw, a senior analyst who joined GAO in the 1970s. "We still have a long ways to go to make restitution."

The 2008 pay raise was the first priority on the union's agenda. The union also seeks a long-term agreement covering pay issues and other employee policies, such as performance management systems.

Several analysts said Monday that one of the proposals the union will push for is 360-degree feedback performance evaluations, which give employees the opportunity to review their managers. Another proposal could require explanations for employee ratings. Specific feedback is not included now in evaluations, only performance ratings are documented.

"We're looking for a model [pay system] around this town," said one GAO analyst, adding that the Pentagon's new National Security Personnel System may be the best model to follow.

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
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • 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 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.


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