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Federal Eye
Posted at 06:00 AM ET, 01/27/2012

The defense budget and civilian federal pay

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta speaks about future military budget cuts at the Pentagon earlier this month. (Mark Wilson - GETTY IMAGES)
The Defense Department budget released Thursday would slash the size of the Army and Marine Corps, trim the number of military jets and ships and push Congress to consider another round of base closures.

Eye Opener

But it won’t slash the salaries of civilian federal employees. At least the White House doesn’t want you to think so.

As The Federal Times first noted, the Pentagon budget document released Thursday said the Defense Department plans to save $60 billion between fiscal 2013 and 2017 by cutting “operations expenses and personnel costs” with some of the cuts coming from “reductions in planned civilian pay raises.”

Wait — what?! Pay reductions for civilian federal workers?

Not necessarily, according to the White House.

“For planning purposes, [the DOD budget] needs to assume a level of civilian pay,” Office of Management and Budget spokeswoman Moira Mack explained Thursday. “The assumptions they use are just that, assumptions. Federal civilian pay is determined on a year-to-year basis, and will continue to be.”

In plain English: The Pentagon had to make a guess on federal pay in order to write its budget, but the rate of civilian federal pay is proposed each year by the White House and set by Congress. (In this case, the military’s bean counters guessed low — but that’s probably a smart guess considering the government’s current financial condition.)

Remember — as The Federal Eye first reported three weeks ago — President Obama plans to propose a 0.5 percent pay raise for civilian employees in fiscal 2013 — and inevitably some lawmakers might push to give workers a bigger raise.

Advocates of pay parity, or compensating civilian workers on par with military troops, will likely keep up that fight through at least fiscal 2014, because the Pentagon said Thursday that military troop pay raises would continue through then. Raises might be smaller beginning in fiscal 2015, DOD said.

Then again, they might not. For now, it’s just a guess.

Follow Ed O’Keefe on Twitter: @edatpost

Further reading:

Graphic: The Pentagon’s shifting priorities

Son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood barred from leaving Egypt

For more, visit PostPolitics and The Fed Page.

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By  |  06:00 AM ET, 01/27/2012

Categories:  Eye Opener, Workplace Issues, Military

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