House Committee Wants to Ensure Federal Workers Are Being ‘Properly Compensated’

What changes, if any, should be made to the federal employee compensation and benefits package or how federal pay is determined each year? A Congressional committee is asking OPM for detailed information on these topics.

How much of an impact did the federal pay freeze have on the compensation for federal employees? And, the question with widely varying answers, are federal employees paid too much, too little or are they fairly compensated?

We may have an answer in the next few weeks or months. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) has asked acting Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Director Beth Cobert to provide detailed data on federal employee pay and benefits in an effort to “ensure that federal employees are properly compensated based on their work and performance.”

Based on the data being requested by the House Committee, we will also have a better idea of the federal employee compensation picture. The Committee is requesting a considerable amount of data from OPM on federal employee compensation. Going directly to the pay freeze question, the Committee wants to know “how many and what percentage of employees’ pay was frozen (denied) or reduced for performance or for cause?”

It appears the Committee is also seeking information on a broader understanding of the federal pay and compensation picture to include the impact of performance on pay and how the probationary system works for new employees. Toward this end, OPM is being asked to provide information for fiscal years 2009 – 2011 on topics such as:

  • “[I]dentify the number of employees who were removed during their probationary period for performance or for cause.
  • [T]he number and percentage of employees who received quality step increases.
  • [T]he number and percentage of employees who were terminated for cause or performance.
  • [T]he average cost of a federal employee’s benefit package, including health care, retirement benefits and other fringe compensation.
  • The average federal pay raise in in percentage and average dollar terms.
  • [H]ow many and what percentage of employees received awards/bonuses each year.
  • [H]ow many and what percentage of employees received awards received a grade or step increase for each year.
  • [T]he number of employees who received lump sum cash awards in each year.”

No doubt, when the information is provided by OPM, the Committee will have a more complete picture of the federal employee compensation and pay package for the last few years.

This should be of interest to federal employees. After the information is provided by OPM, it is likely there may be legislation introduced addressing some or all of these topics. Chances are, there will be legislation introduced addressing topics including how a federal employee will be removed during a probationary period (that could be extended); changes in how step increases are awarded or even changes in how the yearly federal pay raise is determined.

It should make for an interesting time in the federal human resources arena in the next few months.

For those who would like to see the complete list of questions, the information is included in the letter below.

House Oversight Committee Letter to Beth Cobert – February 22, 2016

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. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47