Bush Wants Federal Worker Incentive Pay Fund

January 27, 2003 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - If President Bush has his way, the only federal workers to get incentive salary hikes will be the best performers with the most valuable skills.

While Bush is set to request a 2% federal worker pay raise, he also will ask Congressional budget writers for another $500 million for a “human capital performance fund” so that government agencies can further boost the best workers’ salaries, the Associated Press said.

The president’s plan also would try to make federal workplaces more competitive with the private sector by raising the pay cap for the 7,000 high-level officials of the Senior Executive Service from the current $142,500 to $154,700.

Fast Opposition

There was immediate opposition to the Bush proposal. Rep. Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the House’s second-ranked Democrat, said the plan was “totally unacceptable” and would face strong opposition in Congress.

Meanwhile, Bobby Harnage Sr., president of the American Federation of Government Employees, said his group, the largest federal employees union, would oppose the plan strongly. “In order to give one employee a little more money, you must take it away from others,” he told the AP.   

Harnage recommended that   Bush offer a 2.7% raise to every federal worker instead of a 2% raise with a “slush fund” for chosen employees.

Federal pay also was an issue in the 2003 budget, in which Bush broke with the normal custom of giving military personnel and civilian employees similar raises. The military is getting a 4.1% raise in basic pay, but Bush, citing the national emergency created by the war on terrorism, held the civilian pay increase last November to 3.1%.

The Senate, in its passage of a spending package for the fiscal year that began last October, approved the 4.1% raise for civilians, but said agencies would have to pay for the increased costs from their own budgets. The government spent about $100 billion this year for federal workers’ salaries.