Will New Federal Locality Pay Areas be Added for 2018?

Will new locality pay areas be added in 2018 for the federal employee workforce?

The Federal Salary Council, in its report on 2017 locality pay, recommended that Burlington, Vermont and Virginia Beach, Virginia be established as new locality pay areas. These areas would be in addition to the 13 new locality pay areas  established as new locality pay areas in January 2016.

Burlington and Virginia Beach both were areas, according to the Salary Council, with pay gaps significantly exceeding that for the “Rest of U.S.” locality pay area over an extended period.

But, while the Salary Council made the recommendation, the Salary Council is not the decision making authority. The President’s Pay Agent has to accept the recommendations in order to add new locality pay areas.

In December 2016, the President’s Pay Agent did accept adding Burlington and Virginia Beach as new locality pay areas. However, no further action that we know of has been taken to add these two new areas into the locality pay system.

Decision of the Pay Agent With Regard to Burlington and Virginia Beach

Here is the latest decision by the President’s Pay Agent regarding these two cities.

This recommendation differs from earlier recommendations to establish new locality pay areas…in that the Council’s selection of the Burlington, VT, and Virginia Beach, VA, research areas was based on pay gaps studied over a 3-year period rather than a 4-year period.

We tentatively agree that, after appropriate rule-making, separate locality pay areas should be established for Burlington, VT, and Virginia Beach, VA. BLS should deliver data separately for the Burlington-South Burlington, VT, MSA and for the Virginia Beach-Norfolk, VA-NC, CSA, and exclude those areas from the “Rest of U.S.” computations for 2016 data deliveries to OPM staff.

No reports have been issued by the President’s Pay Agent since December 2016 regarding the addition of Burlington, VT and Virginia Beach, VA to the locality pay areas. It is still possible they could be added in 2018 or the addition of these two areas could be held back another year.

What About Birmingham and San Antonio?

Also, no mention has been made by the Pay Agent for adding the cities of Birmingham and San Antonio as recommended by the Federal Salary Council. It is possible they could still be added in 2018. And, as with the Burlington, Vermont area and the Virginia Beach, Virginia area, they may end up getting pushed back one more year. (See Adding Birmingham and San Antonio to Locality Pay Areas)

Proposed Regulations Would Be Issued

Before adding new locality pay areas, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) would issue proposed regulations. In October 2015, OPM issued regulations to add about 102,000 federal employees into new locality pay areas starting in January 2016. The proposed rule to add these employees into new locality pay areas was issued in June 2015.

As no proposed rule has been issued to add new locality pay areas for 2018, time is running short for these actions to be implemented. This may mean that adding new locality pay areas will be put off for another year.

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