Pay Freeze Harmful to Federal Government’s Ability to Compete as an Employer

WASHINGTON, DC - The Senior Executives Association released the following statement in response to the letter sent today by President Trump to Congressional leaders announcing the president’s intention to eliminate planned pay increases slated to take effect in January of 2019.

“While this administration and many in the American public may maintain some fundamental, philosophical discomfort with the notion of federal employees receiving pay increases of nearly any kind, locality pay adjustments are not bonuses or rewards being handed out en masse, nor are they antithetical to the idea of performance-based pay,” said SEA President Bill Valdez. “Instead, these adjustments have far more to do with ensuring the federal government is keeping pace as an employer, with the Federal Salary Council using complex formulae based on hard data to determine how regional economies are shifting, and responding accordingly through its recommended rate adjustments.”

“Insofar as the federal government strives to compete with the private sector for the most talented employees, locality pay adjustments ensure compensation packages accurately reflect current local and regional economic realities,” Valdez continued. “Put simply, asking an employee to live on a $50,000 salary in Biloxi, Mississippi is not the same as offering a $50,000 salary in San Francisco or New York City. In no case does zeroing out these adjustments make the federal government more attractive as an employer, particularly when attempting to attract the highest-educated candidates who, according to CBO, already make less, on average, than their counterparts in the private sector. In short, this policy is a 180-degree turn away from the president’s stated goal of ‘recruiting, retaining, and rewarding high-performing Federal employees and those with critical skill sets.’”