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The Federal Pay Advisory Panel Can Finally Weigh In on Locality Pay and Other Issues Again

Biden nominates members to the Federal Salary Council, allowing it to move forward with compensation-related recommendations.

President Biden on Wednesday finally named his picks to run the advisory body that issues recommendations on locality pay and other federal employee compensation issues, 15 months into his term.

The Federal Salary Council is composed of three presidential appointees and representatives from five federal employee unions. Each year, it issues recommendations to the President’s Pay Agent on tweaks to the map of locality pay areas and other issues related to federal employees’ compensation as compared with workers in the private sector.

Last year, the salary council was unable to issue those recommendations, because without the three presidential appointees, it could not meet. Appointees to the panel are not subject to Senate confirmation.

Biden named Stephen Condrey to serve as the council’s chairman. Condrey is the president of Condrey and Associates Inc., a human resources consulting firm that focuses on pay systems for state and local governments, and previously served as the chairman of the salary council during the Obama administration.

Also serving on the council are James Llorens and Janice Lachance. Llorens is the dean of Louisiana State University’s E.J. Ourso College of Business and a former professor of public administration, with an expertise in public sector compensation and recruitment. He is a fellow at the National Academy of Public Administration and former editor in chief of the academic journal Public Personnel Management.

Lachance was the director of the Office of Personnel Management during President Clinton’s second term, after serving in a number of other roles at the agency, including deputy director, chief of staff, and director of communications and policy. OPM Director Kiran Ahuja also tapped her earlier this month to serve as chairwoman of the Federal Prevailing Rate Advisory Committee, the salary council’s counterpart focused on compensation issues related to the blue-collar positions in the Federal Wage System.

The Federal Salary Council will have a full slate of issues to tackle when it meets this year. In addition to a growing list of requests for regions to be added as standalone locality pay areas, a number of questions remain unresolved from the Trump administration, when disagreement between the former president’s conservative appointees and federal employee unions ultimately led to inaction on thornier issues.

Among the outstanding issues are questions on how the salary council should compute its annual estimate of the pay disparity between federal employees and their private sector counterparts. Trump’s appointees to the council pushed, unsuccessfully, to include non-salary benefits like federal workers’ health care and retirement programs in the pay disparity calculation. And the council also must make a decision on how to incorporate recent changes from the Office of Management and Budget to metropolitan statistical areas into the locality pay system.