Washington Post – Darrell Issa wants to freeze some federal worker raises

Kurt Bardella Darrell Issa, Kurt Bardella Leave a Comment

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Buried amid the hundreds of proposed amendments to a Republican-backed government spending measure is a proposal to prohibit federal agencies from giving pay raises to workers who receive a promotion.

It’s the latest in a series of GOP bills targeting federal workers and their pay as potential solutions to trimming the government’s ballooning deficit.

Rep. Darrell Issa‘s bill targets period step increases for federal workers paid under the General Schedule. About 20 percent of federal workers get the pay raise each year, mostly for seniority and not performance reasons, according to the California Republican’s office.

“A system that rewards good work, removes poor performers and keeps pace with the private sector is long overdue,” said Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella, who called his boss’s bill “an important first step in pay reform.”

Issa’s aides noted that even Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry has called for serious changes to the government’s pay and classification system.

“When it prevents managers from adapting their job responsibilities to the ever-shifting responsibilities of their departments, it becomes a millstone,” Berry said during a November 2009 speech.

Berry used the address to call for “entirely eliminating classification” for federal employees, or doing away with the pay system used by federal agencies to measure compensation for six decades.

But Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said Issa’s amendment “unfairly singles out federal employees allegedly in the name of deficit reduction. In fact, it would have little to no impact on the deficit but would have a great impact of the ability of federal agencies to retain skilled employees, recruit promising new employees and meet their missions.” Step increases are merit-based and not given on an annual basis, she added.

Just .06 percent of eligible federal workers were denied within-grade pay increases in fiscal 2009, according to OPM data provided to congressional Republicans.

Other Republicans are also targeting federal workers. Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) wants to extend the federal worker pay freeze Obama enacted last year. Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) wants to trim the size of the federal workforce by replacing every two workers who quit or retire with just one replacement. She introduced a similar measure last year.

As tireless colleagues Felicia Sonmez and Paul Kane report today, the House is delaying a scheduled recess in order to finish voting on the spending bill. No word yet when or whether the Issa, Rokita and Lummis amendments will get a vote.

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