New Localities Still a Possibility

Another issue to be decided is whether the administration will follow through on the council’s recommendation of last year to create two new localities in 2017, in the Norfolk, Va., and Burlington, Vt. areas. That would remove employees working in those areas from the “rest of the U.S.” locality outside the metro areas with their own rates, and provide them raises somewhat larger than they would receive if remaining in that catchall locality. Last year the administration accepted a similar recommendation resulting in the creation of 13 new localities for 2016, the largest expansion in the GS locality pay program’s two decades of existence. However, there is no guarantee that the two new localities will be accepted: the administration so far has said nothing about the proposal, and the rules needed to create the 13 localities already had been proposed by this time last year. The number employees benefitting from creating the proposed two additional would depend on how the boundary lines would be drawn but likely would be in the tens of thousands, given the large federal presence in the Norfolk area alone. Also possible is a further expansion of some existing localities by loosening the policies for attaching outlying areas to the core city zones, which similarly would benefit employees working in those areas.