Government supervisors and managers who get "outstanding" marks from their bosses would get two pay raises and a cash bonus each year under an omnibus bill approved by Congress yesterday.
The merit pay changes, which will affect 50,000 people here, were part of a package of last-minute civil service goodies that sailed through the Senate and House. Included in the compromise is legislation that grants, for the first time, survivor pension benefits and federal health insurance coverage to the ex-spouses of government employes.
The three-part bill also makes it easier for senior career executives to get larger bonuses and gives them more warning time if they are to be transferred out of town.
Merit pay covers more than 100,000 civil servants in Grades 13 through 15. Nearly half the employes, who are paid from $37,000 to $67,000 a year, work here.
Unlike regular civil servants, who get automatic raises and longevity step increases (worth 3 percent) each year, raises for employes under merit pay are linked to their annual performance rating. Many managers and supervisors say they have gotten smaller raises than subordinates under the system, which was established by President Carter.
The last-minute rush of federal employe legislation -- in an otherwise lean legislative year for civil servants -- flowed from a bipartisan agreement committing the Senate to hold hearings early next year on alleged sex discrimination in government.
The "pay equity" proposal, by Rep. Mary Rose Oakar (D-Ohio) could lead to upgradings for many women concentrated in the government's lowest-paying white-collar jobs. Merit pay had been stalled in the Senate because the House linked it to pay equity.
The White House hailed passage of both the merit pay and spouse equity bill and said the president will sign them.
The compromise was the result of long hours of meetings and pleadings by legislators and staffers. Key players included Sens. Alan Cranston (D-Calif.) and Ted Stevens (R-Alaska), and Reps. Bill Ford (D-Mich.) and Oakar. Local members of Congress were heavily involved in the last minute legislative horse-trading.
The merit pay reform package was pushed through the House by Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) and Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), and in the Senate by Virginia Republicans John Warner and Paul Trible.
Key merit pay changes: Employes who are rated "outstanding" will get the full amount of the regular federal pay raise plus a full 3 percent step increase and a cash bonus. Those rated "exceeds fully successful" will get the full pay raise, plus a 1 1/2 percent step raise and, perhaps, a bonus.
A "fully successful" rating opens up the way for a pay raise and a 1 percent longevity raise. Persons rated "minimally successful" would get half the regular annual pay raise and no step increase. Those rated "unsuccessful" -- who now get at least half the regular federal pay raise -- would get nothing. The new system will go into effect next year.
Spouse equity highlights: The government will be required to honor court orders to provide a survivor annuity benefit (of up to 40 percent of pension) to the ex-mate of a civil servant. Former spouses, divorced after Sept. 15, 1978, can get survivor benefits, at no cost to the retiree and no risk to the current spouse. The former spouse must be at least 50 years old, have no other retirement income (except for Social Security), have been married to the government worker for at least 10 years during his or her working career and must not have remarried before age 55.