OPM: Within grade increases are not automatic

Friday - 6/10/2011, 4:11pm EDT

By Jason Miller
Executive Editor
Federal News Radio

The Office of Personnel Management is reminding agencies that General Schedule employees who are rated poorly do not automatically get within-grade step increases.

OPM Director John Berry sent a memo to agency heads June 8 reminding them that within grade increases should never be considered automatic or routine.

"I urge you to work with your human resources staff to review the performance management and pay policies and practices in your agency to ensure within-grade increases are paid in accordance with the law and regulations and to take any appropriate corrective actions and make any improvements that may be needed," Berry wrote.

Berry said agencies should not give within-grade increases to employees who do not receive a rating of "full successful or equivalent."

The memo comes after Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), chairman of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, criticized agencies use of within grade increases and introduced a provision (Sec. 1104) in the fiscal 2012 Defense authorization bill to stop giving poorly performing federal employees automatic raises.

Issa also introduced an amendment to one of the fiscal 2011 spending bills that didn't get passed to freeze all within-grade increases. He said at a March hearing that the federal employee pay freeze is not a real freeze if workers still receive these increase in salary.

Berry told Issa and other Oversight and Government Reform Committee members at the March hearing that the administration would not support a freeze to within-grade increases.

Berry also is reminding agency managers about this issue ahead of a proposed memo the OPM and the Office of Management and Budget are reportedly working on. According to news reports, OPM and OMB plan to tell agencies to improve how they manage and limit the amount of money they give for performance bonuses to Senior Executive Service members and non-SES members.

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