Another Pay Freeze Proposed for 2020

The White House has proposed a pay freeze for federal employees for the second year in a row.

The White House’s fiscal year 2020 budget proposal suggests freezing pay for federal employees for the second year in a row.

Word of the pay freeze was originally reported by Government Executive who quoted a senior administration official as saying, “The FY2020 budget forgoes an across-the-board federal civilian employee pay increase in calendar year 2020. The administration is exploring broad alternatives that better target pay increases and incentives toward recruitment and retention of top performing employees that have critical skill sets.”

The budget proposal made no direct mention of a pay raise in 2020 for federal employees, and apparently that was why. It did, however, say that the Trump administration is proposing a 3.1% pay raise for the military next year, the largest in 10 years.

“Military compensation must be competitive to recruit and retain the most qualified men and women to serve in an All-Volunteer Force,” read the budget proposal.

This could become an argument in the future for pay parity with the military in an effort to give a pay raise to federal employees.

Legislation was recently introduced in Congress to give federal employees a 3.6% pay raise next year. The bill has become part of an annual tradition by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) and Congressman Gerry Connolly (D-VA).

It is unlikely that the bill will become law, but that doesn’t mean that federal employees can forget about getting a pay raise next year either. As we saw this year, Congress can override the president’s proposed pay adjustment for the federal workforce, even retroactively. Although Congress failed to do so before the start of 2019, the partial government shutdown ultimately led to a budget agreement that contained a retroactive pay raise for federal employees.

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.