Pay Freeze for Federal Employees in 2019?

A new report based on a leaked whistleblower document says that the Trump administration intends to seek a pay freeze for all civilian federal employees in 2019.

Reports have surfaced that the Trump administration intends to propose a pay freeze for federal civilian employees in 2019.

Leaked Report

The news surfaced based on reports that were released by minority staff on the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

The Senate Committee’s reports are based on information provided by a whistleblower last month to the Committee that leaked a nonpublic “passback” document from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The “passback” process is part of the typical back and forth budget formulation process between agencies and the White House – agencies submit their budget requests to OMB, OMB reviews it and ensures it aligns with the President’s priorities, and then communicates its funding decisions to the agency (the “passback”), sometimes providing less funding than requested, other times more.

In this case, the leaked “passback” document is titled the Department of Homeland Security Fiscal Year 2019 Budget and Policy Guidance and details OMB guidance from the President to the Department of Homeland Security regarding its FY 2019 budget proposal.

Pay Freeze

One of the two reports released summarized OMB’s overruling of DHS’ budget requests on border security personnel. A copy of the report is included at the end of this article.

The important part for federal employees lies in this quote from the report:

OMB rejected the Department’s request for a 2019 pay raise for Border Patrol Agents, ICE Agents, CBP Officers, and other DHS employees, and refused an increase for CBP health benefits. The President’s FY 2019 budget proposal will seek a government-wide pay freeze for all civilian federal employees, potentially impacting the Department’s ability to recruit and retain qualified employees. (emphasis added)

The report goes on to offer more detail:

OMB has instructed DHS: “Per government-wide guidance, no civilian pay raise is included in the recommended level for the FY 2019 Budget.” This pay freeze includes individuals serving in law enforcement positions throughout DHS, with the exception of those in non-civilian positions with the Coast Guard.

And lastly, health benefits would be impacted:

In addition to issuing a pay freeze for federal civilian employees, OMB rejected DHS’s proposed increases for CBP civilian employee health benefits.

The report goes on to state that a pay freeze, if enacted, may impact retention of employees and the ability of DHS to meet its hiring goals.

Second Report of a Pay Freeze

This is not the first time that rumors of a pay freeze in 2019 have surfaced. We reported previously on a leaked document that made mention of a pay freeze.

That document said that a pay freeze was the “most important” of several proposals aimed at federal employee compensation forecasted to save $300 billion over a 10 year period. For details, see Federal Employee Pay Freeze for 2019?.

Overruled: White House Overrules DHS Budget Request for Personnel

About the Author

Ian Smith is one of the co-founders of He has over 20 years of combined experience in media and government services, having worked at two government contracting firms and an online news and web development company prior to his current role at FedSmith.