Executive Order Finalizing 2016 Pay Rates Issued

By on December 19, 2015 in Pay & Benefits with 96 Comments

Image of a pair of dollar signs

The long, tortuous, virtually indecipherable process for determining federal employee GS pay rates for 2016 has come to its annual conclusion. The FedSmith GS pay calculator has been updated to reflect the new pay rates for General Schedule employees.

President Obama has issued an Executive Order (below) ordering the 2016 pay raise. The 2016 pay raise is a slight increase from the 1 percent increase civilian government workers received for 2015 and 2014. Before that, a partial three-year pay freeze had been in effect. (See President Issues Memo Explaining Pay Freeze)

For 2016, there is an across the board 1% pay raise with an additional 0.3% added in for locality pay. The exact amount of the raise, however, will depend on the locality in which a federal employee is located.

No doubt, some federal employees who were enthusiastic about having their own locality pay area for 2016 are not as excited after seeing the 2016 locality pay rates for their areas. The “Rest of the U.S.” locality will have a differential of 14.35% next year. By comparison, for example, the new locality pay area in Albany, NY will have a locality differential of 14.49%, the Albuquerque and Santa Fe differential will be 14.35%, and Colorado Springs 14.52%. Based on comments from readers, some federal employees in these areas were anticipating a larger increase than they will actually receive because of the new locality pay area.

Federal workers in areas such as the Washington, DC metropolitan area will be receiving a raise of 1.46% and those in the San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland area will be receiving a 1.45% bump next year.

The order also implements a 1.3 percent pay raise for military personnel.

As noted back in October, there will not be a COLA increase for retirees in 2016.

The executive order also sets the range of rates of basic pay for the Executive Schedule which will be as follows.

Level Rate
Level I $205,700
Level II $185,100
Level III $170,400
Level IV $160,300
Level V $150,200

The basic rates for 2016 for the Senior Executive Service (SES) will be as follows:

Structure of the SES Pay System Minimum Maximum
Agencies with a Certified SES Performance Appraisal System $123,175 $185,100
Agencies without a Certified SES Performance Appraisal System $123,175 $170,400

The Executive Order was issued after Congress opted to support President Obama’s recommendation for a average 1.3 percent total pay raise for federal employees and military personnel. The legislative branch could have opted for a different amount but did not do so in the 2016 budget.

Note also that the maximum special rate is the rate payable for level IV of the Executive Schedule (EX-IV). (The EX-IV rate will be increased to $160,300 effective the first day of the first pay period after January 1, 2016.) Because of the EX-IV cap, some GS-14 and GS-15 special pay rates for 2016 are capped. See the GS Pay Calculator page for more information.

Executive Order on 2016 GS Pay Schedule

© 2016 Ralph R. Smith. All rights reserved. This article may not be reproduced without express written consent from Ralph R. Smith.

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About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources.

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