For most federal employees covered by the General Schedule (GS) pay system, the annual across the board raise is automatic. It is not automatic at GAO, however, absent a negotiated agreement. A negotiated MultiYear Compensation Agreement [DM] was implemented in 2011 that provided an annual across the board raise equivalent to the GS across the board by locality and processed in the first pay period of the year. The Multiyear MOA also recognized the existing GAO geographic zones, salary ranges covering analysts and specialists, the timing of annual PBC negotiations, and the amount of pay raises upon promotion or placement to a higher band level. Since 2011, we have had more experience with the compensation system and heard from employees about various pain points that we believe are important to address now.
GAO began discussing a market compensation study around the time notice was given to reopen and negotiate the MultiYear MOA in 2014. Nearly a year and a half later, GAO is planning to execute a market study and has not addressed the 2016 annual adjustment. As a result, the GAO Employees Organization is actively pursuing both the timely processing of the 2016 Across the Board raise and other aspects of the compensation system on behalf of Analysts and APSS colleagues (as noted in the bullets below). Ideally, this will be done while also negotiating the PBC Pay Mechanism [DM] (the initial PBC Mechanism MOA expired after 2 cycles under the new competency models):
- GAO Geographic Pay Zones: When the zones were established in 2006, the salary ranges were delinked from the GS locality pay that was established annually by OPM’s annual compensation study methods. GAO field offices were grouped into zones and new salary ranges were established. Since then, adjustments to the salary ranges for the zones generally have been based on the GS across the board increase for the Washington-Baltimore locality. Over the years, this has resulted in pay in some field offices that is out of step with federal colleagues in the same GS localities.
- GAO Salary Ranges: When new salary ranges were established in 2006, some of the salary range minimums and maximums were lowered. Over time, employees have observed differences in compensation relative to their federal peers under the General Schedule in the executive branch.
- Timing of PBC Negotiations: The annual PBC pay negotiations current process is to schedule negotiation sessions after GAO receives an appropriation for the fiscal year. Under the best of circumstances, this results in PBC pay that is processed well after the first of the calendar year, and long after the end of the appraisal cycle that the raise is based upon. This delay is a continuing source of frustration for employees waiting for the PBC raises they have earned.
Annual Adjustments Before the GAO Employees Organization
This timing issue is not new in the history of salary raises at GAO. For a number of years prior to the establishment of the GAO Employees Organization, GAO provided annual adjustments that (1) frequently were less than the GS across the board raises provided to the rest of the federal government, and (2) sometimes were not effective in the first pay period of the calendar year. When GAO and the GAO Employees Organization began bargaining pay in 2007, the annual adjustment and PBC were addressed together in our annual pay negotiations. In 2010, during bargaining over the master collective bargaining agreement, we negotiated a MultiYear Compensation Agreement that provided an annual across the board raise that was equivalent to the GS across the board, by GS locality and processed in PP #1 of the calendar year. The parties agreed to extend the term of this agreement through January 2015 so all GAO compensation matters, including the annual across the board raises and PBC pay, could be considered in negotiations at the same time.
We will provide additional updates on these important compensation matters as negotiations proceed. Please share your thoughts with us by contacting your local representative or sending an email.