Big-ticket federal pay, pension and investment items will be settled this week by Senate-House conferees working on a deficit-cutting bill and a continuing resolution that will allow agencies without approved budgets to keep operating.
Tucked in both measures are options that would help, or hurt, the checks of 5 million federal workers and retirees. Congress and the White House want both measures wrapped up this week.
Here's a rundown of what is at stake and the outlook for each item. Safe List January's 2 percent raise for rank-and-file white collar federal workers seems safe. Less certain is whether those raises will go to 10,000 higher paid employes, including members of the Senior Executive Service.Government retirees will get their 4.2 percent January cost-of-living adjustment. Conferees have apparently rejected an earlier plan to reduce or delay the adjustment.Within-grade raises due 400,000 federal workers are on the safe list. Conferees have tentatively killed a White House plan to freeze those semiautomatic 3 percent longevity increases.Full lump-sum pension payments for federal retirees will continue. Conferees have tentatively rejected the plan to halve those lump-sum payments.Hit List
Still to be decided is whether to give the 2 percent January raise to executives if Congress excludes itself from the general pay increase. Also to be decided are House-passed options that would make the new Federal Employees Retirement System less attractive to people seeking to get full survivor or spousal benefits under Social Security. Investment Options
The Senate version of the continuing resolution has good news for $50,000-a-year-plus federal workers. It would exempt the Thrift Investment Plan from so-called nondiscrimination rules covering similar tax-deferred savings plans for private sector workers.
If conferees accept the Senate version upper income federal workers can continue next year to invest up to 10 percent of pay into the savings plan. If the Senate language is knocked out in conference those employe contributions would be limited to no more than 2 percent above the average amount contributed to the plan by lower-income workers.
Because so many federal employes have failed to invest in the plan the amount that upper-income workers can contribute will be trimmed next year unless the Senate language is approved. People
If the Labor Department's budget jumps this year, blame it in part on the added cost of printing extra-long business cards for the new deputy director of its public affairs office, Robert Zachariasiewicz. Understandably, he's told colleagues to call him Bob Z. The GEM Jinx?
Making the cover of Government Executive Magazine may lose some of its appeal for up-and-coming federal workers. Hours after the most recent issue hit the stands, the man on the cover, Office of Personnel Management's James Colvard, announced he was leaving government.
GEM editors, who once considered a man-with-a-future cover story on Judge Robert Bork, have sent their crystal ball back to the shop while they seek out next month's feature person.