A Closer Look at Obama's 2016 Budget

By on February 2, 2015 in Current Events, Pay & Benefits with 37 Comments

The White House released the president’s 2016 budget proposal today. It contains a number of proposals that have the potential to impact federal workers.

Of most significance is the president’s proposal for a 1.3% pay increase for the federal workforce for 2016.

Below are some of the highlights from the budget that are of most relevance to federal workers.

No chained CPI

As we reported previously, the chained CPI is not included in the budget.

Paid maternity leave for federal workers

As we reported last month, the president is pushing for expanded paid maternity leave for the federal workforce. The new budget proposal includes discussion of this initiative. According to the budget:

In order to recruit and retain the best possible workforce to provide outstanding service to American taxpayers, the Budget proposes legislation that would offer Federal employees six weeks of paid administrative leave for the birth, adoption, or foster placement of a child. In addition, the proposal would make explicit the ability for mothers and fathers to use sick days to bond with a healthy new child. This proposal is part of a broader effort to expand the availability of paid family leave for the Federal workforce, and establish a Federal family leave policy that is on par with leading private sector companies and other industrialized nations.

In line with the president’s initiative, legislation has been introduced in Congress that would give federal workers six weeks of paid parental leave if passed.

Automatic enrollment in the TSP for military service members

The Budget proposes to remove the current statutory bar prohibiting DOD and its armed services branches from automatically enrolling service members in the Thrift Savings Plan. Service members would still have the option to opt out at any point. This would allow the branches to decide to automatically enroll certain groups of members by seniority or pay grade, based on the branches’ judgment of which members are the most interested in and likely to benefit from auto enrollment.

For details on a related proposal, see Proposal Expanding TSP and FEHB to Wider Audience.

Increasing IRS budget

IRS commissioner John Koskinen has warned of interruptions to services to taxpayers due to budget cuts at the agency. The budget proposes increasing IRS funding to address these sorts of problems. Specifically, the budget states:

The Budget’s $12.9 billion investment in the IRS would greatly im- prove services for taxpayers, including through investments for digital services that will fundamentally change how taxpayers interact with the IRS, such as by creating new online tax filing status and payment options. It also makes investments for the IRS to adequately and fairly administer the tax code.

The amount proposed represents a roughly 18 percent increase over the $10.9 billion that Congress approved for the agency in the current fiscal year.

SES hiring reform

The budget supports efforts to reform the Senior Executive Service. According to the budget:

More than half of the Government’s SES leaders are currently eligible to retire, and that number will rise to 64 percent by 2016. The im- pending SES “retirement wave” provides a unique opportunity to train the next generation of leaders. Agencies are piloting a number of reforms to transform the SES in preparation for 21st Century service. For example, the current hiring process for SES can now take almost a year to complete, so one pilot currently underway looks at accelerating hiring speeds. Another pilot focuses on new performance management measures and onboarding procedures to better prepare SES for their new positions and support top performers.

FY 2016 White House Budget

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About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of FedSmith.com. He enjoys writing about current topics that affect the federal workforce. Ian also has a background in web development and does the technical work for the FedSmith.com web site and its sibling sites.