Budget includes 4.4 percent federal pay raise

Budget includes 4.4 percent federal pay raise


President Clinton's proposed fiscal 2000 budget includes the largest federal pay raise since 1981.

The President proposed a 4.4 percent military and civilian pay raise next year, and 3.9 percent raises each year from 2001 to 2004. Although Clinton originally proposed a 3.1 percent increase for fiscal 1999, employees received a 3.6 percent increase.

Still, federal union leaders, who have called for closing the pay gap between federal and private employees, expressed disappointment with the announcement.

Bob Tobias, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, urged that both the administration and Congress move toward full implementation of the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA).

Tobias said that projected large surpluses in the federal budget "make it appropriate, now more than ever," to reward the "continuing contributions of federal employees by giving them a substantial pay increase."

Congress attempted to address the pay gap in 1990 when it passed FEPCA. Under the act, a formula was created to close the gap over ten years beginning in 1994. The pay gap at that time was calculated at an average of about 28 percent. FEPCA has never been fully implemented, however. The Clinton administration has used a loophole in the law to issue smaller raises each year because it believes the FEPCA methodology is flawed.

For example, the FEPCA formula called for a 13 percent average raise in 1999, according to the Federal Salary Council. Instead, President Clinton issued a 3.6 percent average raise.

The Office of Personnel Management expects to develop comprehensive legislative changes to federal pay and benefits by 2002. In the meantime, OPM is working on an alternative way to determine pay raises for 2000.

Clinton's budget also included the administration's most recent employment figures. In 1998, civilian agencies had 1.86 million employees, 16,000 fewer than in 1997. The Defense Department employed 693,000 civilians, 30,000 fewer than the year before. Thirty years ago civilian agencies employed 2.3 million people, while DoD employed 1.3 million people.

The budget projects that the civilian federal workforce will total 1.8 million in 1999 and 1.82 million in 2000. Defense Department estimates are 686,000 in 1999 and 663,000 in 2000.

Clinton's proposed budget for the Office of Personnel Management totaled $14.5 billion, $900 million more than than fiscal 1999's proposal. OPM Director Janice Lachance said she was "very pleased" with Clinton's proposal.

"This funding would allow us to continue providing the leadership and services that the federal community has come to rely upon to protect the merit systems, strengthen performance-oriented compensation, support family-friendly policies, and promote workforce diversity and veterans' preference," Lachance said in a press release.

OPM's budget proposal indicates that the agency will place special emphasis in 1999 and 2000 on improving federal employment opportunities for adults with disabilities and Hispanic Americans, and to enhance the government's ability to recruit and retain computer security professionals.

The administration also proposed a new program for long-term care insurance for federal employees and retirees.

Overall customer satisfaction with the delivery of retirement program services remained high during 1998, as 90 percent of customers reported that they are generally or very satisfied with OPM's overall service, according to the budget proposal.

Customer satisfaction was also high in the health benefits program. Most recent customer surveys indicated that 87 percent of responding enrollees expressed satisfaction with their health plans. The 1998 customer satisfaction survey also showed that more than 75 percent of human resources specialists were satisfied with policy-setting leadership on pay and leave administration.