As Congress begins to consider what could be the biggest increase in federal workers’ wages in 20 years in 2023, some federal workers who are at the top of the payroll scale say the debate will not prove to be impact on their salaries.

In March, President Biden proposed an average salary increase of 4.6% for federal employees, the largest since 2002. Biden did not specify how the 4.6% figure would explode between increases to the basic salary and average salary increases. local pay, although 0.5% is traditionally set aside for the latter.

But some lawmakers, including more than 60 in the House, are calling on embezzlers to repeal the president’s plan and implement a 5.1% pay rise next year. Legislation introduced in January by Gary Connolly, D-Va., Will increase the basic salary by 4.1% and provide an average 1% increase in local wages.

However, for a growing number of federal managers and other technical staff, the debate is controversial: they are likely to receive only a 4.1% increase in basic pay, no matter what. This is because the federal wage cap prevents them from receiving more than the total basic wage increase.

For employees on a general schedule, the federal pay ceiling for the basic and local pay, combined, is set at level IV pay on the executive schedule, which in 2022 is $ 176,300. According to a February report from Research Service of Congressthe wage ceiling has led federal workers in 30 different pay districts to see less than the 2.7% increase in wages introduced by Biden in January.

The long-standing problem no longer affects those at the top – GS-15 step 10 – too. There are 18 different areas where multiple steps within the GS-15 pay make all $ 176,300 this year, and in the San Francisco Bay Area, not only do all steps 4 to 10 of the GS-15 reach the pay ceiling, so and GS-14 Class 10 employees.

The Federal Association of Managers has been working to alleviate this problem for years, but so far without success. And in 2020 briefing document the organization noted that the GS-15 step 10 in Washington, DC, already earns $ 15,000 less per year than they would have without a pay ceiling.

“While federal officials in areas such as San Francisco, New York and Washington have been affected for many years, officials in North Carolina, Georgia, Oregon and elsewhere across the country are also feeling the effects and the problem is growing every year.” “This issue can and will play a role in recruiting and retaining the federal workforce, which is already having problems recruiting. If an employee is offered a promotion to a higher level, with more responsibilities, but without a corresponding salary increase, will he take on a new role? Technology workers, who are now restricted, may be tempted to leave government and take up the private sector, where there is no pay ceiling. “

An FMA member and IRS manager who declined to be named because he was not authorized by his agency to speak to a reporter, he said. Government executive that he has been at the top of the payroll for several years and now thinks of the local paycheck as “a flat tire that almost falls off the steering wheel.”

“We see it in high-priced cities like San Francisco and New York – the GS-15 is just not as attractive as it used to be because it’s almost the same pay as the GS-14, but with more responsibilities,” he said. “The 15th grade are senior managers or people in high-tech positions, and those people now have to decide if they want more responsibilities without a pay incentive.”

The IRS manager acknowledged that at this point Congress could not simply get rid of the pay ceiling without giving some federal five-figure raises, but suggested finding a way to at least give those federal services the same pay increases as everyone else. the rest.

“So if President Biden has a 5% increase and that’s taking into account the pay of the area, so maybe on average [the locality pay] is 1% of that, “he said.” So 4% is what everyone gets, and people who are limited will only get 4%, and it gets worse and worse every year. So at least give them 1% so as not to widen this gap further, because it will be too late in the end. ”

But it is unclear whether there is an appetite in Congress to adjust how the pay ceiling set out in the statute works, except for the annual one-off increases to account for the base pay increase. Connelly, a sponsor of the bill to provide a possible further 0.5% increase in local wages, declined to comment.

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