On Wednesday, May 18, GAO announced that the agency will be compensating non-bargaining unit employees with a 1.0 percent salary raise in performance-based compensation (PBC). In light of this announcement, perhaps it is more obvious why we have not yet reached agreement on PBC. The GAO Employees Organization wanted to take the opportunity to re-emphasize the importance of negotiating a fair PBC amount for our bargaining unit colleagues, even as we navigate a world of constrained, albeit not entirely flat, budgets.
GAO has received an increase in its appropriations each fiscal year since 2012, though the amounts have been small (for example, an increase of about $17 million for FY 2015 and $9 million for FY 2016). We agreed to a PBC budget factor that was much lower, 0.8%, for 2012, a year when GAO faced a large cut in its appropriation, and an additional reduction due to sequestration.
Prior PBC Budget Factors
2013 2.0% (under the former PBC pay mechanism)
2016 ? (1.0% for non-bargaining unit colleagues)
Given the continued excellence in the work you produce for the agency and the public, we have not agreed to the budget factor the agency is implementing for non-bargaining unit employees. For further information about GAO’s budgetary priorities described in its 2016 appropriations request, please see the ‘When Will I Get my PBC’ section of our April 27, 2016 newsletter (second section).
We urge your patience and understanding as we go through this difficult, complex negotiation process. We hope to reach agreement with management through a third-party process soon, and we remind you that any agreed-upon PBC amount will be retroactive to January, 2016. Please feel free to reach out to us at email@example.com for with any thoughts, questions, or concerns.
HQ, Metro Track Work, and Telework
There has been a lot of media coverage of the upcoming Metro planned track work that will begin very soon. Understandably, employees in the DC metro area who commute using Metro have been asking questions about GAO’s plans during the planned schedule, which is set to take about a year, and is subject to change. The GAO Employees Organization will be working with GAO management to introduce alternatives for HQ commuters for the long haul.
In the meanwhile, Metro riders know that when one portion of the system is either closed, or slowed due to single-tracking, the performance of the entire system is affected. Management recently has indicated in meetings with employees that it is the Agency’s intent to be flexible with telework and the amount of time employees will be required to spend at the official duty station. We recommend that everyone consider applying for several or all types of telework arrangements as a preemptive tool for providing the most flexibility to accomplish your work. This is particularly important since the first phase of track work begins in 2 weeks. Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Applying for multiple types of approved telework agreements results in greater flexibility. At a minimum, it would be a good plan to have both an approved continuing arrangement and an episodic arrangement. A continuing arrangement for the maximum amount of telework under the current policy at HQ would provide up to 39 hours in telework status for a full time employee (assuming an additional 41 hours in the office). Having an approved episodic telework arrangement in addition will provide the flexibility to telework additional days, or to change those days easily, when appropriate.
- Consider applying for a short term telework agreement. It may make sense to consider applying for a short term telework agreement for certain timeframes during the planned Metro surge. Short term telework is an option to address special circumstances for limited periods of time. According to Metro’s statement, “When a surge is underway on a particular line, Metro riders who have the ability to do so may be asked to use alternate travel options and avoid Metro until the project is complete.” For HQ commuters who depend on Metro, these work surges may present special circumstances.
- Discuss your preferences with your supervisor now. One of the concerns that management has raised during recent assessments of employee compliance with telework policy is related to managers not being aware of or approving employee telework plans. We suggest that you initiate a discussion with your manager right away if you are considering any of these telework arrangement alternatives during the planned Metro track work. Ask them how they would prefer you to seek their approval in each instance. Initiate discussions about the work you will be doing when you are in telework status. Of course, this will vary depending on the nature and length of your relationship with your telework and/or WebTA approving manager, but it will be useful if there is a clear understanding. It is not required that approval be provided in writing, but sometimes an email assures a shared understanding.
- Apply now. Approval Takes Time. All telework agreements must be applied for and approved in the online system. The approving officials vary depending on the type of telework application. Employees may submit new telework agreements for approval at any time. We expect that the system will soon be flooded with new applications which will slow down the overall approval process. Apply for each type of telework agreement now so that they will be approved and available to use when you need them. Remember that HQ colleagues who are approved to be in telework status may come into the office when it makes sense, or is necessary for the work. Simply inform your manager.
We will keep you posted on any new information, particularly regarding changes in the amount of time you will be required to report to the office each pay period. Please let us know if you encounter any problems in the approval of new telework agreements. For answers to telework policy questions, employees in the analyst bargaining unit should always begin with Article 11 of the CBA; APSS bargaining unit colleagues should refer to Order 2300.5.