Unlike the annual cost of living increase for federal retirees, the pay raise for active duty federal employees always seems to go through a political dance about as convulated as the mating dance of some exotic bird species. This year is no exception. In fact, this year, the annual ritual of deciding how much federal employees will make next year is even more confusing.
As an initlal caveat, nothing is yet final as far as the amount of the 2007 pay raise. Congress will come back next year with new members, new leadership and a new agenda. It will have its own agenda, its own political debts to pay off and its own hot buttons. It is possible that Congress will do something to change the final amount of the pay raise. Influential Congressman have already said that agencies will effectively be under a continuing resolution for the remainder of the fiscal year rather than entering the swamp of trying to get one passed for 2007 before the 2008 budget actually starts next fall. (See “2.7% Raise Headed for the Trash Heap?”)
Having said that, it is still possible that in the process of implementing this intent, something will happen to change the federal pay raise. The bottom line is that no one really knows what will finally happen.
Despite that, some events are occurring that will interest readers who may want to know what will be in their paycheck in January.
The Office of Personnel Management has issued a memo to the heads of agencies detailing that the 2007 pay raise will be effective “on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or after January 1, 2007 (January 7, 2007) if no further action is taken by Congress.”
For those who may be wondering, the amount of the average pay increase for 2007 will be 2.2%. Here is OPM’s take on it: “The President’s alternative plan results in an overall pay adjustment of 2.2 percent. Of the 2.2 percent average increase, 1.7 percent is allocated as an across-the-board increase for the General Schedule under 5 U.S.C. 5303. The alternative plan provides the remaining 0.5 percent as locality-based adjustments, under 5 U.S.C. 5304a.”
While he will have to hurry to do so, OPM expects President Bush to issue an executive order in December implementing the 2007 pay rates. Presumably, the memo has been written and is being staffed or sitting on someone’s desk waiting to be pushed through the bureaucracy.
If you happen to be in the higher pay ranges, keep in mind that regardless of what the pay tables may show, that there is a limit on the amount of money that Uncle Sam will pay you. “The aggregate limitation on pay for calendar year 2007 will be $186,600 (equivalent to the rate for level I of the Executive Schedule).”