Federal Pay:

Changes to the Methods of Comparing Federal and Private Sector Salaries

GGD-87-8: Published: May 14, 1987. Publicly Released: May 14, 1987.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reported on the changes to the methods of comparing federal and private-sector salaries, focusing on: (1) recent and proposed changes to the survey and pay comparability determination process; (2) the impact of the changes on pay comparability determinations; and (3) the appropriateness of the changes.

GAO found that the federal pay agent: (1) added occupations, including systems analyst and general clerk, and occupational levels to make the survey more representative; (2) expanded the 1986 survey to include smaller establishments with 50 employees, instead of limiting the survey to firms with 100 or more employees; (3) included only permanent, regular-rate employees, rather than all GS employees, in the pay determination process; and (4) calculated the pay gap using median, rather than mean, salary averages. GAO also found that: (1) 1987 revised survey plans include obtaining only general information on state and local salary schedules and expanding the survey to include new service industries and establishments with as few as 20 employees; and (2) the annual survey's future is uncertain, since Congress has directed the Bureau of Labor Statistics to develop a national white-collar salary and benefits survey to serve the needs of the President's pay agent and provide information on white-collar compensation.

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