President Trump announced Aug. 30 that he plans to reverse his formerly proposed pay freeze for federal employees and recommended a 2020 pay across-the-board pay raise of 2.6 percent.
“I have determined that for 2020 — while across-the-board base pay will increase by 2.6% — the locality pay percentages shown in Schedule 9 of Executive Order 13866 of March 28, 2019, will remain at their 2019 levels,” Trump wrote in the letter to congressional leadership. “This alternative pay plan decision will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well‑qualified federal workforce.”
It should be noted that the White House’s 2020 civilian pay proposal would only affect base pay. The lack of an increase in locality pay will be a challenge for those in areas such as Washington, DC and San Francisco which usually see locality pay adjustments of more than 2 percent per year.
President Trump proposed a pay freeze for next year in the White House’s fiscal 2020 budget. While the Senate has not made a 2020 pay proposal in its spending bills, in March the House passed an average 3.1% pay increase which includes a 2.6% across-the-board raise plus an average 0.5% increase in locality pay.
The final determination of the 2020 federal pay raise will likely be made later this fall, and the Office of Personnel Management will publish the official pay tables in mid-December.
The full text of Trump’s Aug. 30 letter regarding the federal pay increase is below;
Dear Madam Speaker: (Dear Mr. President:)
I am transmitting an alternative plan for pay adjustments for civilian Federal employees covered by the General Schedule and certain other pay systems in January 2020.
Title 5, United States Code, authorizes me to implement alternative plans for pay adjustments for civilian Federal employees covered by the General Schedule and certain other pay systems if, because of “national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare,” I view the increases that would otherwise take effect as inappropriate.
Under current law, locality pay increases averaging 24.01 percent, costing $24 billion in the first year alone, would go into effect in January 2020, in addition to a 2.6 percent across-the-board increase for the base General Schedule.
We must maintain efforts to put our Nation on a fiscally sustainable course; Federal agency budgets cannot sustain such massive increases in locality pay. Accordingly, I have determined that it is appropriate to exercise my authority to set alternative locality pay adjustments for 2020 pursuant to 5 U.S.C. 5304a.
Specifically, I have determined that for 2020 — while across-the-board base pay will increase by 2.6 percent, as prescribed under 5 U.S.C. 5303(a) — the locality pay percentages shown in Schedule 9 of Executive Order 13866 of March 28, 2019, will remain at their 2019 levels. This alternative pay plan decision will not materially affect our ability to attract and retain a well‑qualified Federal workforce.
As noted in my Budget for Fiscal Year 2020, our pay system must reform to align with mission-critical recruitment and retention goals, and to reward employees whose performance provides value for the American people. My Administration will continue to support reforms that advance these aims.
The adjustment described above shall take effect on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or after January 1, 2020.
DONALD J. TRUMP