Obama sets 2 percent civilian pay hike for 2010

President Obama late Monday reiterated that he will limit the base pay raise for civilian federal employees to 2 percent in 2010.

In a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Vice President Joe Biden, the president invoked his power to override the statutorily required annual across-the-board and locality pay increases in times of emergency or economic hardship.

"A national emergency… has existed since September 11, 2001," Obama wrote. "Likewise, our country continues to face serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare and most Americans would not understand or accept that federal employees should receive an average pay increase of 18.9 percent while many of their fellow citizens are facing employment cutbacks or unemployment."

Under the law governing pay for civilian federal employees, workers are entitled to an across-the-board raise equal to 0.5 percentage points less than the growth in the Labor Department's Employment Cost Index. This year, that would have been a 2.4 percent raise, plus an increase in locality pay, predicted to be 16.5 percent by a survey of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. As he argued in August, Obama said the $22.6 billion required to implement the statutorily required pay hike would be too costly.

Congress could still override the president's plan. But since July, competing pay provisions have languished in the fiscal 2010 Financial Services appropriations bill. The Senate's version of the legislation includes a 2.9 percent civilian raise for 2010, while the House bill follows Obama's initial budget request for a 2 percent increase. The House passed its bill in late July, but the full Senate has yet to vote on the measure, and it is likely to get wrapped into an omnibus spending package.

Federal employee groups have protested the administration and Congress' approach to pay, expressing concern that higher raises for military members have sent discouraging messages about the value of civilian employees' work. The 2010 National Defense Authorization Act included a 3.4 percent military raise, 0.5 percent higher than the 2.9 percent raise Obama requested for service members in his initial budget. Obama signed the Defense policy bill in October.

Previous administrations also have cited national emergencies to justify alternative pay plans. Max Stier, president of the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service, has criticized the practice, urging the president to take a more straightforward approach and simply say he does not want to increase pay.

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.