OPM proposes cost-of-living changes for Alaska and Puerto Rico

The Office of Personnel Management on Monday recommended another cut in cost-of-living allowances for federal employees in some areas of Alaska, and another boost for employees in Puerto Rico.

The draft rule published in the Federal Register proposed decreasing the adjustment for employees in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau, Alaska, by 1 percentage point, to 22 percent. The notice follows a January proposal to reduce the allowance from 24 percent to 23 percent. Regulations limit COLA decreases to 1 percentage point annually, so the two decreases must be spaced out by at least one year.

Employees in Puerto Rico are in line to receive another 1 percent hike, bringing their COLA to 14 percent. A final rule in late May increased the Puerto Rico allowance from 12 percent to 13 percent. The additional bump recommended on Monday would be separate from the Alaska change to avoid delays.

Federal workers living outside the contiguous United States receive COLAs in place of annual locality pay adjustments. OPM bases the allowances on regional surveys conducted every three years. In the off-years, the personnel agency calculates adjustments based on changes in the U.S. Consumer Price Index in a given area relative to those in the Washington region. This was an off-year for Alaska and the Caribbean, meaning Monday's proposal was based on changes in the index.

The COLA system has long been subject to debate, and a variety of groups have advocated shifting workers in faraway regions to locality pay. In May 2007, OPM proposed legislation to phase in locality pay and phase out COLA payments during a seven-year period. And in May 2008, Sen. Daniel Akaka, D-Hawaii, introduced a competing bill that would shift federal employees from COLAs to locality payments by 2012.

Comments on Monday's draft rule are due by Oct. 24. They can be e-mailed to COLA@opm.gov, faxed to (202) 606-4264 or mailed to:

Charles D. Grimes III
Strategic Human Resources Policy Division, OPM
1900 E St. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20415

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 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.