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OPM to develop strategy to tackle gender pay gap

President Obama has given the Office of Personnel Management six months to develop a government-wide strategy for addressing any gender pay gap in the federal workforce.


President Obama has given the Office of Personnel Management six months to develop a government-wide strategy for addressing any gender pay gap in the federal workforce.

A May 10 memorandum to agency and department heads outlined details of the directive.

"While salary ranges in the federal workforce are generally determined by law, the fixing of individual salaries and other types of compensation can be affected by the exercise of administrative discretion," the memo stated. "Such discretion must be exercised in a transparent manner, using fair criteria and adhering to merit system principles, which dictate that equal pay should be provided for work of equal value."

According to the memo, the new strategy OPM develops must include an analysis of whether changes to the General Schedule would help address a gender pay gap; offer proposed guidance to promote greater transparency regarding starting salaries; and include recommendations concerning any additional administrative or legislative actions or studies that may be required to narrow any gender pay gap.

To aid OPM's development of the strategy, the memo directs agencies and departments to provide OPM with information on and analysis of all agency-specific policies and practices that may affect a gender pay gap, including those used to set starting salaries for new employees; those that may affect the salaries of individuals returning to the work after extended time off to care for children or other family members; those used to evaluate individuals for promotions—particularly individuals who work part-time schedules—and any others that may affect pay equality.

The memo also asks agencies to report any best practices they have used to improve gender pay equality. Agencies have 90 days to provide OPM with the required information and analysis.

The administration has tackled the issue before. In 2011, OPM and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission issued a joint memorandum  on the federal gender pay gap; and in 2010, President Obama established a National Equal Pay Task Force, which brought together OPM, EEOC, the Department of Labor and the Department of Justice to address the issue.

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