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The Retroactive Pay Raise Is in 'Final Clearance' Stage, says White House Official

"It is exceedingly legalistic as to how we get this squared away," said Margaret Weichert, acting OPM director.

About that retroactive pay raise federal employees received last month: The check’s not in the mail yet, but it really is coming, a senior White House official said Wednesday.  

“We’re in the final-week-of-clearance stage,” said Margaret Weichert, acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, on Wednesday. “I know that sounds like something you’ve heard before, but to me this is an object lesson in the complexity of our pay system,” said Weichert, who is also the deputy director for management at the White House Office of Management and Budget.

President Trump on Feb. 15 signed a spending package to keep the federal government open until Sept. 30. That law included a provision authorizing a pay raise for federal workers for this year, retroactive to the first full pay period of 2019, overriding the president's decision last December to freeze civilian employees’ pay.

But since the bill’s enactment, the White House hasn’t provided much information about when exactly federal workers could expect to see their raises. Trump is required to issue a new executive order to implement the increase, and OPM must publish new pay tables for multiple pay systems and localities.

“It's an EO that unleashes the retroactive pay. You’re dealing with pay tables that are so highly complex,” Weichert said in remarks following a discussion of the president’s management agenda at an event sponsored by the National Academy of Public Administration. “It is exceedingly legalistic as to how we get this squared away. And so the challenges are actually not, as some have [speculated], the payroll processing. It’s purely a lawyering activity.”

“I totally get that people are frustrated that it takes this long. I’m frustrated too,” Weichert said.