Comments on H.R. 5743
B-207219, Aug 11, 1982
In response to a congressional request, GAO commented on H.R. 5743. If enacted, this bill would amend title 5 of the U.S. Code to restore full comparability and within-grade increases to all employees in General Schedule grades 13 through 15 and to use quality step and incentive award funds to provide lump-sum performance bonuses. Since the bill would apply to all persons in these grades, not just to supervisors and management officials who are now covered, the difficulties of defining covered employees, a classification created by the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA), would be eliminated. The bill would provide performance bonuses similar to the cash award program under CSRA or the performance awards for Senior Executive Service (SES) employees, neither of which becomes a permanent part of base pay. Unlike SES, H.R. 5743 does not limit the number or percent of employees that can receive these bonuses. The initial GAO estimate indicates that additional funding would be required to give more or larger bonuses. Although H.R. 5743 may contain some worthwhile provisions for a merit pay system, GAO believes that no changes should be made before a thorough assessment is made of how well the merit pay program is currently working and specific improvements are identified. Such an assessment has not been made because the 1981 government-wide experience with merit increases was not fully funded. The Office of Personnel Management plans to fully implement merit pay this year and use part of the comparability adjustment to fund merit pay increases.