[Updated Jan 2013] President Obama issue an executive order providing a 0.5% pay raise for employees on the Federal GS pay scale. The pay raise will take effect on March 27, 2013 when the latest budget freeze is lifted. An updated GS pay table reflecting the 0.5% raise is shown below.
But the pay raise may still be blocked by Congress who passed a bill in the Republican controlled House (sponsored by Republican legislators Michael G. Fitzpatrick and Darrell Issa) that seeks to continue the GS pay freeze for over 2 million federal employees through the end of fiscal 2013. Their argument is based on the fact federal employees have continued to receive promotions and within-grade pay increases over the past few years of the supposed ‘pay freeze,’ and voluntary separations from the federal government are near all-time low.
[Updated Nov 2012] President Obama has gone along with Congress and signed a six-month government spending measure (continuing resolution), that means an extended pay freeze for federal employees and members of Congress; who will not see a pay rise or salary bump until April 2013 at the earliest. Per the earlier update below, President Obama had recommended a 0.5% pay raise for federal workers in 2013, conditional on Congress passing a budget. This did not happen amidst a deeply divided and partisan Congress and so the continuing resolution, to prevent a government shutdown, was enacted to fund services at current levels – which meant the multi-year GS pay freeze being extended. Individual employees on the GS scale still remain eligible for raises if they receive promotions, step increases or performance awards.
[Updated July 2013] In contrast to President Obama’s budget which included a 0.5% Federal employee (GS) pay raise in 2013, Congress has elected to exclude any federal pay raise provisions for next year from its annual government appropriation bills. The GS pay scale covers all federal workers, including civilian Defense Department employees, but does not apply to military personnel, government contractors, postal workers, members of Congress, Congressional staffers, or federal court judges and workers.
The House Appropriations Committee, responsible for drafting the house federal budget proposal, advanced legislation via the Financial Services and General Government spending bill that does not contain a pay raise for federal workers in 2013. The Senate’s version of the annual appropriations legislation also omitted provisions for federal pay raises in 2013.
Following two years of pay freezes, many federal and state employees on the GS pay scale will be bitterly disappointed with another year of pay constraints. However critics of further government spending have said extending the current pay freeze is the most prudent course of action, as the government tackles mounting debt, a presidential election and a tough economy.
“For a bill that is largely comprised of salaries and expenses for numerous federal agencies, this allocation, if enacted into law, would result in a substantial reduction in services to the public, severely hinder many very basic functions of government and cause furloughs, layoffs and vacancies at a time when employment remains the nation’s top concern,” said committee ranking member Rep. Norman Dicks (D-Wash.).
“We get these false statements that federal employees are making more money than the private sector…..I don’t know what federal employees they’re talking about. I know the ones in my office aren’t.”said Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member on the Democrats on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee
A 2013 Pay Raise Still Possible
Despite the lack of provisions for a 2013 GS pay raise in both the House and Senate bills, federal workers may still get a pay hike in 2013. The president has the authority to determine a raise based on the Employment Cost Index if Congress fails to explicitly block a pay raise. Further a pay raise can also be proposed in other bills, which are funded differently. No such bills are currently active in Congress, but could be proposed before the final raise (or lack thereof) is set in stone at the end of September 2012.
If GS levels remain unchanged, then the only way for a 2013 pay rise is a step increase or promotion to a higher GS grade level.