OPM Extends Pay Freeze for Top Administration Officials

Officials now say the provision preventing pay raises for some Cabinet-level officials runs until the end of the current spending deal.

The Office of Personnel Management announced Wednesday that it is effectively extending the pay freeze for top administration officials until the next federal government shutdown deadline on Jan. 19.

Last month, acting OPM Director Kathleen McGettigan said in a memo formalizing the 2018 pay tables for federal workers that a pay freeze for employees on the executive schedule, which includes top-level political appointees and the vice president, was scheduled to expire on Jan. 6. Absent congressional action to renew the measure, those officials would receive a 1.4 percent pay increase this year.

“Unless extended by new legislation, the pay freeze will end on the last day of the last pay period that begins in calendar year 2017 (i.e., January 6, 2018, for those on the standard biweekly payroll cycle),” McGettigan wrote at the time.

But in a new memo released Wednesday, McGettigan walked that back, instead saying that the latest continuing resolution, approved by Congress on Dec. 21, to keep the government open effectively extends the deadline for imposing a new pay freeze for the executive schedule as well. The salaries of top-level political appointees and the vice president have been frozen since 2013.

“Language [in the latest CR] means that the freeze on the payable pay rates for the Vice President and certain senior political appointees at 2013 levels . . . continues into calendar year 2018 through January 19, 2018, or the date of enactment of new appropriations legislation,” McGettigan told agencies Wednesday. “Until Congress acts on appropriations legislation, we will not know whether the pay freeze continues beyond January 19, 2018.”

McGettigan also noted that the pay freeze applies to any politically appointed members of the Senior Executive Service and Senior Level positions, provided they meet the EX-IV threshold of $164,200 for 2018.

“The official 2018 pay rate for EX-IV of $164,200 must be used in applying the trigger for coverage under the pay freeze for political appointees in SES, SL, and certain other covered positions,” she wrote. “An SES or SL political appointee paid less than $164,200 may receive a pay increase up to this rate but may not receive an increase above this rate or any subsequent increase, except as provided in the pay freeze statutory authority referenced above.”