America’s senior civil servants in line for wage increase and bigger bonuses

By on 23/12/2015 | Updated on 25/09/2020

America’s senior civil servants could see their wages and bonus payments increased, according to a new presidential executive order.

The order, published by the White House last week, told officials in charge of government agencies to implement new pay policies to ensure that senior civil service pay exceeds that of their subordinates.

Currently, higher ranks often don’t pay more than those lower down – a factor which has frequently discouraged some high-level employees seeking promotion. The proposed change “may increase the competitiveness of senior executive service (SES) positions with comparable positions outside of government,” the order says.

The order also told agency heads to lift the spending limit on performance awards for senior civil servants from the current 4.8% of their aggregate spending to 7.5%, starting in March 2017.

Heads of agencies have until May 31, 2016, to produce a two-year plan to increase the number of senior officials “who are rotating to improve talent development, mission delivery and collaboration,” according to the order.

The document states that, “while agency specific targets will not be required, this order establishes a government-wide goal of 15 percent of SES members rotating for a minimum of 120 days, including to different departments, agencies, subcomponents, functional areas, sectors, and non-federal partners, during the financial year 2017, and thereafter, in order to ensure the mobility of the corps while also maintaining stability of operations.”

Interim president of the Senior Executive Association Tim Dirks said: “This is a step in the right direction.

“While we still have some concerns – most notably that the administration has not yet addressed agency funding for the reform initiatives – we hope these issues will be addressed in the administration’s budget request to Congress and/or executive order implementing guidance.

“When designing new programs, it is imperative that we account for the needs and resources required for their success.

“The reforms contained in the order hold the potential to improve the development and operation of the career senior executive and professional workforce to more effectively serve the American public.

“We look forward to working with this Administration and the next on implementing, assessing, and improving these initiatives.”

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough announced the order last week.

He said that in 2016, more than 60% of the federal government’s SES leaders will be eligible to retire and that “the impending SES ‘retirement wave’ provides a unique opportunity to recruit and develop the next generation of leaders.”

The changes contained in the executive order will ensure that the federal government “remains competitive in attracting and retaining world-class talent to serve the American people,” he said.

About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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