The Office of Personnel Management yesterday posted unofficial salary tables that reflect President Bush's plan to give a 3.1 percent pay raise next year to civil service employees.

The rates of pay will not become official until Bush issues an executive order later this month to implement the salary change for the General Schedule, OPM said. Agencies may use the draft tables for payroll planning purposes, OPM said.

The General Schedule covers about 1.8 million white-collar federal employees, including nearly 300,000 in the Washington-Baltimore area.

In the Washington-Baltimore region, civil service pay will range from $16,961 (GS-1, step 1) to $123,388 (GS-15, step 10), according to OPM.

Pay for a GS-13, a common grade level in headquarters buildings here, will range from $68,283 to $88,770.

Employees may go online to check out their proposed 2003 salary at the OPM Internet site (www.opm.gov/oca/payrates/index.asp). Separate salary tables for law enforcement officers also are posted on the Web site.

The administration's pay tables, however, may not be the last word on 2003 civil service salaries.

A bipartisan group of Washington area lawmakers, including Reps. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.), Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) and Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), said they will work in the House next month to provide federal employees with a 4.1 percent raise, similar to the increase Bush approved for the military.

Yesterday, Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes (D-Md.) said he would urge Senate colleagues to support a 4.1 percent raise. "I am deeply disappointed that President Bush has chosen not to provide our hard-working federal civilian employees with a pay raise equal to that of our military personnel," Sarbanes said. "While citing a national emergency, he has failed to acknowledge that these civilian employees, many of whom are part of the new Department of Homeland Security, are on the front lines during this national emergency."

Before it adjourned, Congress appeared on track to provide a 4.1 percent raise for federal employees, but the spending bills containing the pay raise were among several that stalled over disputes about spending priorities.

Asked by reporters if Bush had cut the pay increase for federal employees, White House spokesman Ari Fleischer pointed out that the president's plan included a pay raise and noted that "alternative pay plans" also were issued during the Clinton administration.

"So this is not surprising, this is not anything new," Fleischer said. "This has happened many times before, as federal managers deal with the various intricacies of the laws that govern the pay increases and the alternative pay plans that are available."

But Bush's plan, released Friday, breaks with past practice in one respect.

Bush froze employee "locality pay" adjustments, which are supposed to track private-sector wage changes in cities where GS employees work.

In recent years, Congress and the White House have designated a small part of the annual raise as a locality adjustment, despite concerns about the methodology used to calculate pay gaps with the private sector.

Locality pay percentages authorized for 2002 will remain in effect in 2003, and the 32 locality pay areas will remain unchanged from 2002, Donald J. Winstead, OPM's acting director for workforce compensation and performance service, said in a memo to federal agencies.

Health Benefits Symposium Rep. Thomas M. Davis III (R-Va.) and the National Association of Retired Federal Employees are sponsoring a Federal Employees Health Benefits Symposium from 10 a.m. until noon tomorrow at the Ernst Community Cultural Center on the Northern Virginia Community College's Annandale campus, 8333 Little River Turnpike.

The program will include speakers from NARFE and OPM, and Walton Francis, the principal author of Checkbook's Guide to Health Plans for Federal Employees. No preregistration is necessary. For more information, call 703-437-1726.

Federal Diary Live Carroll E. Midgett, chief operating manager of the American Postal Workers Union Health Plan, will take questions on the 2003 open season for the federal employee health insurance program and APWU's new "consumer-driven option" at noon tomorrow on www.washingtonpost.com.

Stephen Barr's e-mail address is barrs@washpost.com.