Proposed Compensation Cuts, Guaranteed Uber Reimbursement and More

A weekly round-up of pay and benefits news.

With the roll-out of President Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget proposal this week, there is no shortage of news outlining its potential effect on federal workers.

As expected, the proposal offers a 1.9 percent pay hike for civilian employees and a 2.1 percent raise for military service members. But those increases would be coupled with efforts to reduce civilian workers’ retirement benefits, a move panned by most unions and employee groups.

Among the measures to rein in retirement spending are a phased-in increase in the employee contribution to the Federal Employees Retirement System, an elimination of cost of living adjustments for FERS retirees and a 0.5 percent COLA reduction for Civil Service Retirement System employees.

In all, the budget proposes $1.4 trillion in cuts to non-Defense agencies over the next decade, including $54 billion in discretionary spending at domestic agencies next year. That means cutting jobs at most agencies. In case you missed it, we made a chart outlining the proposed staffing changes at each agency in Trump’s first budget.

The spending blueprint also would make it easier to fire poor performers. As Eric Katz reported:

“[Outdated rules and processes governing the federal personnel system] created a ‘seemingly intractable problem’ in which top performers are not properly rewarded and poor performers are not dealt with at all. To address this issue, the White House demanded all agencies review their performance management policies, train managers on dealing with performance and conduct issues and create a mechanism providing them with real-time guidance on the tools they have available to handle the bad apples. Additionally, agencies must ‘eliminate non-statutory barriers to removing’ employees who do not improve their performance after receiving warnings.”

On Capitol Hill, a bipartisan group of senators introduced legislation Wednesday that would require large federal agencies to do more to connect veterans with jobs that fit their skillsets.

The Empowering Federal Employment for Veterans Act would require large agencies to establish an office or full-time position devoted to promoting employment opportunities for veterans, veteran recruitment programs and training programs for vets with disabilities.

It also would require the Office of Personnel Management to facilitate coordination between these new offices and officials so that they can share and develop best practices and work on other veteran hiring initiatives.

Before Trump left on his trip to the Middle East and Europe last week, he signed the bipartisan Modernizing Government Travel Act (H.R. 274) into law.

The act requires the General Services Administration to formulate rules to allow federal workers to expense travel via ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft, as well as commuter bicycle rental services like D.C.’s Capital Bikeshare.

“This bill will help our government keep pace with the private sector and save taxpayer dollars,” said Rep. Bill Hurd, R-Texas, who introduced the bill along with Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass. “Modernizing government into the 21st century is something that we all can agree on and I am grateful to my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and the White House for lending their support.”

“This bipartisan bill will make government travel more efficient, and, as a result, save taxpayer dollars,” Moulton said.