On Key Issues, It’s See You in September

Empty vintage congress hall with seats and microphones.

Congress has gone on a recess through Labor Day without resolving a number of key compensation and workplace issues for federal employees, some of them in budget bills and some in other legislation. The only partial action on spending bills for the fiscal year that starts in October almost certainly means that Congress will need to enact some form of stopgap budget measure in September. Options include extending spending authority only until the late November-early December timeframe or extending it into sometime early in the new year for the new Congress and new administration to handle. One of those bills, the general government appropriation, typically is the vehicle for various policy decisions affecting federal employees. The House has passed its version but the Senate version has progressed only through the committee level. Both say nothing about a January 2017 federal raise, leaving room for the White House to set a figure, most likely 1.6 percent, by default. The House version meanwhile contains language not in the Senate version to bar performance awards to SES members at the individual agencies it funds—most notably the IRS, the central management agencies and financial regulatory agencies—to bar the IRS from paying awards unless the employee’s conduct and personal tax compliance are considered, and to allow the government to restart Circular A-76 contracting out studies. The Senate version does not contain similar provisions and it specifically backs keeping the A-76 moratorium in place.