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OPM: Pay raises are not a given

Director John Berry reminds agencies that mediocre employees should not receive automatic step increases.

The government's human resources chief is reminding agencies that certain pay raises are not automatic.

Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry sent a June 8 memorandum to agency heads reiterating that within-grade increases, or step increases, should not be given to employees with performance ratings below "fully successful" or the equivalent.

"The payment of within-grade increases should never be viewed as automatic or routine," Berry wrote in the memo.

There are 10 steps within each General Schedule grade. Step increases are periodic boosts in a GS employee's rate of basic pay from one step of the grade within a position to the next higher step of that grade.

The two-year pay freeze on federal employees does not affect step increases, or performance-based bonuses, which some lawmakers view as a loophole. The House in May passed legislation that would eliminate pay raises for poor-performing federal employees.