The President’s Pay Agent, which is the Secretary of Labor and both Directors of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), is authorized to determine General Schedule (GS) locality pay areas. As you may recall, in its December 2016 and 2017 annual reports, the Pay Agent formally approved the establishment of four new locality pay areas: Birmingham, AL; Burlington, VT; San Antonio, TX; and Virginia Beach, VA. However, in order for these new locality pay areas to be created, regulations must first be issued and finalized. OPM is now issuing the proposed regulations for their establishment, triggering the beginning of the required regulatory process.
These proposed regulations also include using updated commuting patterns data obtained from the Census Bureau for the locality pay program and adding San Luis Obispo County (CA) to the existing Los Angeles-Long Beach, CA locality pay area, and McKinley County (NM) to the existing Albuquerque-Santa Fe-Las Vegas, NM locality pay area.
The Federal Salary Council (FSC), on which NTEU National President Tony Reardon serves, makes recommendations to the President’s Pay Agent regarding changes in locality pay areas and locality pay rates. Under the provisions of the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act of 1991, the federal government is supposed to be providing locality pay in each area sufficient to close the gap between GS base pay and private sector pay in each area to within five percent. The FSC had recommended for several years that these locality pay areas be established, and the FSC discussed its concerns about the lack of progress at its most recent meeting earlier this year.
While NTEU is pleased that the regulation process has finally commenced for these four areas, we remain concerned that the President’s planned pay freeze for calendar year 2019 will mean that there will be no locality pay for any employees, regardless of specific locality pay area or status. NTEU will continue our overall efforts to secure both an across-the-board and locality pay increase for 2019, including for these four locality pay areas.