While Congress has directly addressed some pay and benefit issues for federal employees and retirees, most of the proposals made by the White House have advanced only a little or not at all.
The budget proposal in February contained a host of proposals including raising the required FERS employee contribution toward retirement, and lowering the government contribution, until the two are equal, resulting in about a 6 percent of salary increase for most; basing future annuities on a high-5 salary average rather than the current high-3 under both FERS and CSRS, and eliminating the FERS “special retirement supplement,” both to be effective for those retiring after a future unspecified date; and shaving 0.5 percentage points off COLAs for CSRS retirees and eliminating the COLA on FERS civil service annuities.
Other proposals included reducing the TSP’s G fund rate of return; adding a year to within-grade waiting periods; combining sick and annual leave into one category to be called paid time off; creating a short-term disability benefit; creating a $1 billion fund to reward performance and to incentivize recruitment and retention for high-demand occupations; and making the government contribution toward FEHB premiums variable depending on a plan’s quality ratings.
Later documents sent to Congress in support of those proposals contained some, but not full, details that would be needed to write such proposals into law.
The House later drew up a budget blueprint seeking cuts of $32 billion over 10 years in programs under the control of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which oversees federal pay and benefits. Like similar past plans, it recommended achieving those savings through steps such as increasing employee contributions toward retirement and ending the special retirement supplement, although specifics would be up to the oversight committee.
The Senate did not produce a counterpart plan, however, and at this point it is virtually certain that it will not, leaving those recommendations with little authority behind them. Even the House oversight panel has not moved to carry them out.
The congressional focus on the budget has been on writing bills needed to keep agencies funded in the fiscal year starting in October. Those bills so far contain none of the White House’s proposals.