Pay & Benefits Watch Pay & Benefits WatchPay & Benefits Watch
Key developments in the world of federal employee benefits: health, pay, and much more.
ARCHIVES

An Almost-Routine Pay Freeze, Defending Senior Execs’ Bonuses, Bonding With Trump and More

For federal employees tired of lawmakers’ frequent attacks on their pay and benefits, it may be comforting to know that House members are giving themselves a dose of their own medicine.  The House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday approved a fiscal 2017 legislative branch spending bill that would freeze representatives’ pay for the eighth consecutive year. This is more than double the length of the three-year pay freeze civilian federal employees endured from 2011 to 2013.

Rank-and-file members of Congress now receive an annual salary of $174,000; the House Speaker earns $223,500 per year, while the Senate president pro tempore and the majority and minority leaders in both chambers each receive an annual salary of $193,400. The last pay boost members received took effect on Jan. 1, 2009, increasing the annual salary of rank-and-file lawmakers by $4,700 – from $169,300 in 2008 to the current level of $174,000.

While a congressional pay raise is unlikely in this political climate, some have argued that members of Congress really do need a salary boost to keep up with the high cost of living in the Washington region. Stagnant pay risks creating two classes of lawmakers: the short-timers and...

Tuition Assistance Hike, TRICARE Changes, Military Pay and More

Military personnel can expect higher pay and changes to their health benefits next year, although the details are still being worked out. Earlier this week, the Senate Armed Services Committee’s personnel panel cleared the National Defense Authorization Act with a 1.6 percent pay raise for troops.

That was half a percent lower than the pay raise included in the House version of the legislation.

As Kellie Lunney reported Tuesday:

The Senate panel’s 1.6 percent figure is the same amount that President Obama has recommended for the military and federal civilian employees in his fiscal 2017 budget. But, like last year, House lawmakers have decided to fully fund the 2017 raise for service members, which according to the formula, would be 2.1 percent in 2017. The formula for determining service members’ annual pay increase is based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Cost Index and the growth in private-sector wages.

The two chambers will likely have to agree on a final number during conference committee. If this year is like last year, the Senate’s smaller pay increase will prevail.

The other big compensation news in the Senate version relates to military health care benefits...

Military Pay Raise, Federal Hiring, VA Firing and More

Military personnel would receive a 2.1 percent pay raise next year under a major House bill that lawmakers have advanced.

The House Armed Services Committee approved last Thursday the massive fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which includes the salary boost. The 2.1 percent bump is 0.5 percentage points higher than the 1.6 percent raise President Obama recommended for the military and civilians in his fiscal 2017 budget.

The 2.1 percent figure is in line with the anticipated 2017 cost-of-living adjustment. (The formula for determining service members’ annual pay increase is based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Employment Cost Index and the growth in private-sector wages.) The Senate Armed Services Committee, however, is likely to stick with the administration’s proposal, which is what has happened in the recent past.

A 1.6 percent pay raise could save the Defense Department more than $300 million in fiscal 2017, officials have said.

The fiscal 2017 Defense authorization bill also would create a new TRICARE enrollment fee for active-duty service members who join the military after Jan. 1, 2018 (active-duty personnel currently don’t pay TRICARE enrollment fees). However, the House committee rejected an administration proposal...

Problems Voting Overseas, Financial Management Help, Fair Pay Dustup and More

The 2016 presidential election is drawing attention to the highly decentralized nature of the U.S. election system, where every state seems to operate according to a unique set of rules and deadlines. For military personnel and federal employees serving overseas, figuring out how to vote absentee makes the process even more daunting.

There’s help available for navigating the voting process from overseas. But as the Government Accountability Office pointed out in a report last week, the help itself is confusing to many. To its credit, the Defense Department has taken steps to improve voter assistance efforts through the Federal Voting Assistance Program. But as GAO notes:

“Two long-standing issues—limited awareness of resources for voters and the unpredictable postal delivery of absentee ballots—continue to pose challenges. DOD-commissioned studies and post-election survey results indicate that there is limited awareness of FVAP's resources among military and overseas voters. A 2015 study found, for example, that the online availability of blank ballots led to one of the most significant improvements in military and overseas absentee voting. At the same time, the full benefits of the improvement had not been realized because voters remained unaware that ballots could be requested...

Contractor Sick Leave, Congress’ Self-Imposed Pay Freeze, Military Pay and More

It’s been about six months since President Obama signed an executive order guaranteeing federal contractors paid sick leave, and the haggling over how that rule will be implemented has started. The Labor Department’s proposed regulation on Executive Order 13706 is “broad in its application, overly prescriptive in its implementation, and overly punitive in its enforcement,” said the Professional Services Council, an industry group, in a statement late last week.

When the executive order came out in September 2015, PSC contended that while it supports paid sick leave for federal contractors, many already provide that benefit and they require flexibility to administer that and other types of leave as they see fit. The group advanced a similar argument against the draft regulations last week, noting the new rules would impose extra compliance costs on contractors.   

“First the EO, and now the proposed rule, have turned a straightforward mandate to provide certain employees with one hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked on covered contracts into a detailed and intrusive compliance and enforcement regime,” stated PSC Executive Vice President and Counsel Alan Chvotkin. “The proposed rule dictates the minutiae of compliance without regard for variations in covered contractors...

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by eSignLive by VASCO

    Mobile E-Signatures for Government

    Learn 5 key trends that accelerate government demand for mobile signing.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Management Concepts

    SPONSORED: Successful Change Management Practices in the Public Sector

    How governmental agencies implement organizational change management.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Kronos

    Solving the Workforce Compliance Challenge

    Download this eBook to learn how data and automation can help state and local agencies.

    Download

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