Question: President Trump wants pay for performance for federal employees. Doesn’t the government already reward employees for good performance?
Answer: Senior executives and certain other employees at high levels are under such systems. In 2016, almost all executives received ratings-based raises, averaging about 2 percent of salary — nearly $4,000 — and 81 percent also received a cash award, averaging almost $12,000.
Most other employees can receive performance-based raises through “quality step increases,” which speed their advancement up through their pay grade. Those are worth about $1,700 on average, but they are not common — only 3 percent of employees received one in 2015.
Meanwhile, nearly half received rating-based cash awards, averaging just over $1,000; a quarter received time-off awards for performance, averaging 19 hours; and smaller numbers received other types of recognition, such as suggestion awards and group performance awards.
The White House has not explained how its proposal would work, other than to slow the frequency of regular step increases and to create a central $1 billion fund to provide “targeted pay incentives to reward and retain high performers.” Such systems typically combine pay grades into “bands” and replace all in-grade increases with performance-based raises.