Update on Fiscal Year 2017 Employee Awards Policy

100 dollar bill Benjamin gift or presentThe administration has issued an instructional memorandum to agencies regarding the policy for awards provided in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 to frontline employees. In 2010, a cap was instituted that limited awards for both senior executives and frontline employees, which has resulted in significantly lower awards for all federal employees in recent years.
In December 2015, the President issued an Executive Order (EO) implementing a series of reforms for the Senior Executive Service (SES), which included a new evaluation system, and which also raised the awards cap for these individuals’ awards for FY 2017. Following the release of the EO, NTEU discussed the need with both the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to correspondingly increase the awards cap for all other federal employees, who as you know, make up more than 99 percent of the federal workforce. In August, NTEU shared a follow-up letter to these conversations, which reiterated the federal government’s obligation to address FY 2017 awards policy for all employees, particularly at a time when across-the-board pay raises and locality pay have either been non-existent or tiny.

This latest memorandum instructs agencies to raise the current 1% cap on awards in place since 2010 for non-SES and non-SL/ST employees to 1.5% for FY 2017. This means that for FY 2017 agencies will be authorized to spend up to 1.5% of their aggregate salary spending levels on individual performance and contribution awards, as well as for any recruitment, retention, relocation incentives (the so-called three Rs) and Quality Step Increases. Additionally, SES and SL/ST salaries will no longer be included in the 1.5% of agency aggregate salaries for the purposes of awards calculation for frontline employees.

I believe this is a good first step to starting to restore federal employee compensation and to ensuring overall workplace fairness and employee morale.

NTEU will continue its legislative and bargaining efforts to secure higher pay raises on our behalf.