Annual Adjustments--The Key to Federal Executive Pay

FPCD-79-31: Published: May 17, 1979. Publicly Released: May 17, 1979.

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Top federal executives paid under the Executive Schedule (ES) are supposed to receive the annual comparability salary adjustments given to General Schedule (GS) exployees, but these executives have been denied all but one such adjustment. Quadrennial assessment and adjustment of executive salaries have been denied. This has been partially due to a linkage between congressional and executive level II salaries. ES salaries have increased an average of only 28 percent since 1969, as compared with increases of 87 percent in GS, and even higher for some top positions in the private sector. Salaries for federal executives are much lower than those received by many executives in private industry, large labor unions, government-related organizations, and educational institutions.

Since the executive level V pay rate serves as a ceiling limit for pay rates of GS and other statutory pay systems, salaries for about 12,400 employees in the top levels of these schedules are not restricted. The top two steps of GS-15, the top seven steps of GS-16, all GS-17's and 18's, executive level V, and equivalent positions receive the same salary despite wide differences in their levels of responsibility and performance. This situation leads to morale and retention problems. The Senior Executive Service (SES) may help temporarily to alleviate some problems for top career executives by placing most GS-16 through GS-18 positions into a separate pay system. The President sets the pay rates for SES levels. The basic pay range could be narrowed, however, if annual comparability increases are given to GS but not to ES.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should allow the annual adjustments under the Executive Salary Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 1975 to take effect. This law provides that positions under the jurisdiction of the Quadrennial Commission are to receive an annual cost-of-living salary adjustment equal to the average of the rates by which GS salaries are increased for annual comparability purposes. In addition, Congress should discontinue the practice of linking congressional and executive level II salaries.


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