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General schedule pay issues stymie hiring efforts

Federal agency chief human capital officers say the general schedule that covers civilian employee pay frequently hinders hiring for critical occupations like information technology and cybersecurity.

"Many agencies view the current structure of the General Schedule to be a considerable obstacle when competing with the private sector for new talent and retaining high-performing employees," the Office of Personnel Management stated in a summary of its Fiscal Year 2019 Human Capital Survey report published March 31.

According to OPM, 12 agencies are looking to implement new special rates for certain positions. The Department of Transportation wants to test new pay structures and flexibilities for mission-critical personnel at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, while Housing and Urban Development is drafting a policy proposal for OPM to review concerning alternative pay systems.

OPM said a study is in the works to "obtain market information and analyze the Federal Government's competitive posture in total compensation for civilian employees."

The agency plans to increase compensation options for certain occupations, initially focusing on economists, "with the potential to expand efforts to other occupations not served well by the General Schedule system."

Reader comments

Mon, Apr 6, 2020 Sam USA

Federal Pay levels are far too low in many areas. Cybersecurity experts in the private sector are being paid over $1 million per year and get far better benefits that are paid for in full. Private sector orthopedic surgeons on average earn Over $650, 000 in the private sector, yet VA hospitals can only pay up to $187,000 per year to the top dog running the VA.

Mon, Apr 6, 2020 Sergio CA

We did this at SSA back in 2008 thru 2011. We did audits, provided examples, comparisons and even put in a requirement to test for higher level. It was approved by component Chief and forwarded to OPM. Somehow it got lost. We worked on it for years and proved that we deserved a pay and grade increase. We were only asking for one pay grade increase. Since then we have lost many highly skilled IT personnel to other agencies and private sector because SSA didn't want to recognize and pay its IT personnel. There has some change but some positions are still under paid and Agency higher Mgmt wants more for less.

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