Two New Additions Proposed for Locality Pay Areas

OPM is proposing to add Carroll County, IL and Brooks County, TX into locality pay areas.

Carroll County, Illinois and Brooks County, Texas Proposed by OPM for Locality Pay

Back in December 2021, the President’s Pay Agent submitted its annual report.

The Pay Agent’s report compares rates of pay under the General Schedule to non-Federal pay, identifies areas in which a pay disparity exists and specifies the size of the disparity, makes recommendations for locality rates, and includes the views of the Federal Salary Council.

In its latest published report, no new locality pay areas were created for 2022. The Pay Agent did approve adding Carroll County, Illinois to the Davenport, Iowa locality pay area. While this was approved, the change could not be made until “appropriate rulemaking” procedures were followed.

On September 22, 2022, the “appropriate rulemaking” procedures were initiated. The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) published a proposal to add Carroll County, Illlinois, as an “area of application” to the Davenport-Moline, Iowa-Illinois locality pay area in the Federal Register.

OPM Proposes Adding Brooks County, TX to Locality Pay Area

The Federal Register notice also proposed adding Brooks County, Texas, as an area of application to the Corpus Christi-Kingsville-Alice, Texas, locality pay area.

The proposed changes in the geographic definitions of those locality pay areas would be applicable on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or after January 1, 2023, subject to the issuance of final regulations.

Comments on the proposed additions are due on or before October 21, 2022. Instructions for submitting comments are included in the Federal Register notice.

Brooks County Now Meets Federal Employment Criteria

In the Federal Register notice, OPM wrote:

In reviewing updated GS employment data, the Pay Agent has identified Brooks County as meeting the applicable criteria applied for locations evaluated as single counties. To meet these criteria, Brooks County needed both 400 or more GS employees and an employment interchange rate of 7.5 percent or more with the Corpus Christi basic locality pay area. Brooks County now meets these criteria….

No link is included in the OPM notice indicated when the Pay Agent “identified Brooks County as meeting the applicable criteria applied for locations evaluated as single counties.” Brooks County, according to OPM, needed 400 or more GS employees to qualify for locality pay inclusion. Reviewing the Pay Agent reports for the last several years, no mention is made of Brooks County.

It is unusual for OPM to automatically include new counties or other areas as qualifying for locality pay until recommended by the Pay Agent. It is not clear from the Federal Register notice when the Pay Agent made this decision.

Assuming the proposed regulations are approved, and it would be unusual if a final regulation is not issued as proposed on this topic, Carroll County and Brooks County will be added to existing locality pay areas for 2023.

Locality Pay Areas in Government

There are now 54 locality pay areas. These locality pay areas allow the General Schedule pay scale (and the LEO pay scale, which also uses these localities) to be adjusted each year for different parts of the United States.

Each locality area has a locality pay adjustment percentage. This percentage is updated every year. In effect, it determines how much over the GS base pay federal workers in each locality will earn.

Adding San Mateo County, California, to a Nonappropriated Fund Federal Wage System Area

On September 21, 2022, OPM also proposed in the Federal Register adding San Mateo County, California into the Monterey, CA, nonappropriated fund (NAF) Federal Wage System (FWS) wage area. OPM wrote: “This change is necessary because there are three NAF FWS employees working in San Mateo County, and the county is not currently defined to (sic) a NAF wage area.”

The Department of Defense, on behalf of the Department of Veterans Affairs, notified OPM the Veterans Canteen Service now has three NAF FWS employees in San Mateo County.

Comments on this proposal are due by October 21, 2022 in accordance with instructions contained in the Federal Register notice.

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