NTEU Letter on Fiscal Year 2017 Awards Policy

NTEU National President Tony Reardon (left) and NTEU Chapter 254 President David Arvelo at the 2016 NTEU Congressional Reception in Washington, D.C.
NTEU National President Tony Reardon (left) and NTEU Chapter 254 President David Arvelo at the 2016 NTEU Congressional Reception in Washington, D.C.

Today, NTEU National President Tony Reardon wrote to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regarding Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 awards policy for frontline federal employees. Last Friday, the Administration issued an instructional memorandum to agencies regarding the policy for awards provided in Fiscal Year 2017 to senior executives (SES) and other senior level employees (SL/STs). In December 2015, the President issued an Executive Order (EO) implementing a series of reforms for the Senior Executive Service, which included a new evaluation system and a focus on awards. The new policy, now being implemented at the employing agency level, overturns an earlier policy established in 2010 that placed a cap on the amount of awards for senior executives—both in terms of the individual limits and in terms of aggregate agency salary.

Unites States Office of Personnel Management sealFollowing the release of the EO, NTEU discussed the necessity with OMB and OPM to institute a corresponding lift in the awards cap for all other federal employees—who make up more than 99 percent of the federal workforce. Tony’s letter to OMB and OPM reiterates the federal government’s obligation of addressing FY 2017 awards policy for its entire workforce. As we know far too well, federal employees have suffered a general lack of wage increases stemming from the three-year pay freeze, furlough days at some agencies, and the cumulative 3.3 percent raise (depending on exact locality pay area) over the last three years, and are not immune from increase food, utility, and insurance costs. Additionally, the recovering national economy and resulting job market had led to increased private-sector wages and recruitment and retention incentives, which have not ensued in the federal sector. While all of these arguments are valid, the main reason for implementing awards equity for all employees is that the federal government should act as a model employer, and not solely reward its highest paid employees for the work that is performed by the entire workforce.

We often hear about a concern on how best to increase employee morale across federal agencies—and reserving increased and meaningful employee awards solely for members of the SES flies in the face of any of these efforts.

I will keep you updated on any developments regarding FY 2017 pay and awards.