Shows & Panels
- The 2014 Big Picture on Cyber Security
- AFCEA Answers
- Ask the CIO
- Connected Government
- Consolidating Mission-critical Systems
- Constituent Servicing
- Continuous Monitoring: Tools and Techniques for Trustworthy Government IT
- The Data Privacy Imperative: Safeguarding Sensitive Data
- Eliminating the Pitfalls: Steps to Virtualization in Government
- Federal Executive Forum
- Federal Tech Talk
- Government Cloud Brokerage: Who, What, When, Where, Why?
- Government Mobility
- Mission-critical Apps in the Cloud
- Mobile Device Management
- The Modern Federal Threat Landscape
- The Path from Legacy Systems
- Understanding the Intersection of Customer Service and Security in the Cloud
Shows & Panels
COLA? Maybe. Pay raise? Maybe not!
Monday - 8/5/2013, 2:00am EDT
Federal workers, for example, get pay raises based on fiscal considerations and, more often than not, politics. That is, when they get them!
Once retired, however, federal workers (like military retirees and people who get Social Security) are under an automatic pilot plan. They get cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) designed to keep pace with inflation. In the private-sector, pensions (much less inflation-adjusted pensions) are as rare as passenger pigeons.
Thanks to a three-year pay freeze, higher taxes and rising health insurance premiums, take-home pay for most nonpostal federal workers has been shrinking every year. The White House originally proposed a two-year freeze which Congress happily extended to three. But for federal retirees, it is a very different story.
Pay raises are dependent on Congress and the White House. But benefits for federal and military retirees, and people who get Social Security, are linked to inflation. And although inflation has been low — largely due to the recession — retirees got a 1.7 percent raise in January 2013. And another may be in order for 2014.
With a couple of months left in the countdown, federal-military-Social Security retirees are looking at a potential cost-of-living adjustment of 1.3 percent in January 2014. It could be more if the Consumer Price Index increases during this third quarter, which ends in September.
While a COLA of 1.3 percent isn't enough for that dream vacation, it is better than standing still as working feds have done for the past several years. And may continue to do in the future.
It is entirely possible that federal white collar workers may be in for another year of frozen pay. It is highly unlikely (because they are linked to Social Security recipients) that any COLA due retirees will be scuttled by politicians. But the amount of the January 2014 COLA is still to be determined via a complex formula. This is how the National Active and Retired Federal Employees explains it:
"Relevant to the cost-of-living-adjustment to civil service annuities for 2014, the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W) increased by 0.3 percent in June.So, for retirees, any January 2014 COLA depends on the inflation rate for July, August and September of this year.
"As determined in October, federal retirees received a 1.7 percent cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) to their civil service annuities beginning in January 2013, the same increase for Social Security benefits and military retirement annuities.
"The new CPI-W figure for June 2013 was 230.002, 1.35 percent higher than the average CPI-W for the third-quarter of 2012, which was 226.936. The 2012 third-quarter average is the reference figure for determining the 2014 COLA.
"Under current law, COLAs for federal retirement annuities, as well as for military retiree annuities and Social Security payments, are determined in reference to the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers (CPI-W), which is calculated by economists and statisticians with the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The CPI-W is the current index used for measuring increases in the prices of consumer goods throughout the economy. It includes prices on all consumer goods, including food and beverages, housing, clothing, transportation, medical care, recreation, education, communication, and more."
For federal workers, the likelihood of a pay raise depends on politics and, maybe, prayer.
NEARLY USELESS FACTOID
Compiled by Jack Moore
It seems like everything is getting more expensive these days — and that includes crime fighting. The price of being Batman in 1939 (when the superhero was created) was $10,253. That includes $5,600 for the Batcave as well as $600 for the Batmobile, according to the website Laughing Squid. In 2013, Batman's costs rose to more than $134 million.
MORE FROM FEDERAL NEWS RADIO
Obama picks restructuring expert Koskinen to take over IRS
President Barack Obama is nominating a retired corporate restructuring expert to take over the Internal Revenue Service, which is under fire for its screening of political groups. In a statement, Obama says John Koskinen "knows how to lead in difficult times, whether that means ensuring new management or implementing new checks and balances."
DoD scrounges for cash to cancel civilian furloughs
As the end of the fiscal year gets closer, the Pentagon says it's looking in every area of its budget for unexpended funds that could help cancel out civilian furloughs. Lower than expected oil prices and lower costs for the war in Afghanistan may help. About 650,000 of the Defense Department's 800,000 civilians are currently scheduled for one unpaid furlough day per week through the end of the fiscal year that ends Sept. 30. DoD says it desperately wants to end those furloughs early, though officials have not made any final decisions yet.
TSP funds rebound thanks to strong July market
Funds in the Thrift Savings Plan rebounded last month from a June dip. All TSP funds posted in positive territory for the first time since April, and some funds boasted their biggest monthly increases of the year. The government-securities G Fund ticked up to 0.18 percent - its strongest showing in nearly two years.
House to halt bonuses, increase transparency of feds
The House is cracking down on government waste and abuse, passing a slew of bills yesterday aimed at improving government accountability. Today, lawmakers want to keep the ball rolling. The House will consider the Stop Government Abuse Act (H.R. 2879). The bill passed the House Oversight and Government Reform committee and the Judiciary committee yesterday.