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Federal Pay Freeze for 2011 - 2012 Signed Into Law


President Obama signed into law today the continuing resolution bill that funds the federal government through March 4, 2011.

The bill included the White House's Nov. 29 proposed federal pay freeze for two years -- through December 31, 2012.

According to the White House, the federal pay freeze will save $2 billion for the remainder of FY 2011, $28 billion over the next five years, and more than $60 billion over the next 10 years. It will apply to all civilian federal employees, including those in various alternative pay plans and those working at the Department of Defense -- but not military personnel.

In February, the president had proposed a 1.4 percent 2011 federal pay raise for both civilian and military employees in the fiscal year budget.

Groups representing federal employees have given sharp criticism for the federal pay freeze.

Jackie Simon, Public Policy Director for the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE) told today, "it was entirely gratuitous by President Obama and Congress. It will have no impact on the deficit if reducing the deficit were an important economic priority right now."

The National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) stated today: "During these tough economic times, federal employees are ready to do their part, but cancelling a modest 1.4 percent pay raise this year and a projected 1.1 percent pay raise next year because of deficit concerns rings particularly hollow in light of the recent tax compromise between the administration and congressional Republicans that will give hundreds of billions of dollars to America's wealthiest citizens. This pay freeze unfairly singles out hard-working, middle-class federal employees and casts them as scapegoats for the nation's economic difficulties."

President Obama signed three documents on December 22, 2010, that relate to pay rates for federal civilian employees. 

First, the president signed legislation to prohibit statutory pay adjustments for most federal civilian employees for a two-year period.  (See section 147 of the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (Pub. L. 111-242), as amended by section 1(a) of the Continuing Appropriations and Surface Transportation Extensions Act, 2011 (Pub. L. 111-322).) 

Second, the president issued a memorandum asking that agencies suspend similar increases to pay schedules and rates that are set by administrative discretion.  The law and the president's memorandum cover pay adjustments that would otherwise take effect during the period beginning on January 1, 2011, and ending on December 31, 2012. 

Third, the president signed an executive order documenting the 2011 frozen pay rates for certain civilian employee pay systems and establishing the 2011 increased pay rates for the uniformed services.  (Members of the uniformed services are not covered by the pay freeze.)

The president's memorandum on the federal pay freeze is posted at:

The executive order is posted at:

The president has directed the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) to issue guidance on implementing the federal pay freeze.  In the coming days, OPM will provide guidance on the law, Presidential memorandum, and Executive order and the impact of those documents on federal pay rates in 2011.