Summary: H.R.3979 — 101st Congress (1989-1990)All Information (Except Text)

Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

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Reported to House with amendment(s) (09/21/1990)

Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act of 1990 - Title I: Amendments Relating to Basic Pay - Revises policy objectives under which pay will be fixed and adjusted for employees under the General Schedule to provide for distinctions between different local pay areas and to remove the objective that pay levels for the statutory pay systems be interrelated. Includes the Performance Management and Recognition System as a pay system subject to the Employment Cost Index-based annual pay adjustments and locality-based comparability payments.

Provides annual pay adjustments for employees under each statutory pay system equal to the annual increase in the Employment Cost-Index (excluding sales). Declares that increases resulting from such adjustments are not equivalent increases in pay under provisions regarding periodic step-increases. Limits the rate of basic pay adjusted annually under each statutory pay system to the rate of basic pay for level V of the Executive Schedule.

Abolishes the Advisory Committee on Federal Pay. Directs the President to establish the Federal Pay Council. Includes representatives of major Federal employee labor unions as members of the Council. Revises administrative provisions.

Directs the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) to conduct annual surveys which compare the rates of pay under the General Schedule with the rates of pay generally paid to non-Federal workers for the same levels of work in geographic locations established by the President's Pay Agent in order to determine whether a locality-based comparability payment is needed to eliminate or reduce any disparity in pay resulting in Federal workers receiving less pay than non-Federal workers for the same levels of work in a particular location.

Directs the President's Pay Agent to determine the size of each such pay disparity based on data from such surveys and, in a report to the President, include its recommendations along with those of the Federal Pay Council regarding the level of comparability payments needed to eliminate or reduce pay disparities.

Directs the President to make annual adjustments in locality-based comparability payments by the amount recommended in the Pay Agent's report or by an amount determined by the President. Sets forth provisions governing the computation of such adjustments. Requires a comparability payment to be considered part of basic pay for purposes of retirement, life insurance, premium pay, and for any other purpose provided for by law or as the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) may by regulation prescribe. Prohibits comparability payments from being paid at a rate which, when added to the rate of basic pay otherwise payable to the employee involved, would cause total pay to exceed the rate of basic pay for level I of the Executive Schedule.

Directs the President's Pay Agent to provide for meetings with the Council and consider its views and recommendations and those of the unions not represented on the Council with respect to surveys, the comparison of pay rates, establishment of pay areas, and the comparability payments needed to eliminate or reduce pay disparities.

Prohibits comparability payments from being taken into account for purposes of annual pay adjustments.

Grants the President the authority to extend comparability payments, upon the request of an executive agency head, to certain employees not paid under the General Schedule. Makes prevailing rate employees and employees covered by a special pay authority for critical positions ineligible for comparability payments.

Grants the President the authority to provide for special pay rates if Government efforts to recruit or retain well-qualified individuals are, or are likely to become, significantly handicapped by: (1) the remoteness of the area or location involved; (2) undesirable working conditions; (3) higher rates of pay offered by non-Federal employers; or (4) any other circumstances which the President considers appropriate. Prohibits a minimum special pay rate from exceeding by more than 30 percent the maximum pay rate prescribed by statute for the grade or level. Provides that no special rate may be estabished in excess of the rate of basic pay for level V of the Executive Schedule. Excludes comparability payments from such limitation. Allows comparability payments to be made available to individuals receiving special pay rates to the extent the President considers apropriate. Provides that comparability payments may not be made if such payments when added to basic pay otherwise payable, would cause the total to exceed the rate of basic pay for level I of the Executive Schedule. Prohibits the rate of basic pay payable to an individual under such authority from being less than the rate which would then be payable to such individual if such authority had not been enacted.

Prohibits pay fixed by administrative action from exceeding the rate of basic pay for level V of the Executive Schedule.

Prohibits, except as otherwise permitted by law, the payment of allowances, bonuses, or similar cash payments to certain employees if such payment would cause the employee's total rate of basic pay to exceed the annual rate of basic pay for level I of the Executive Schedule. Provides that any amount which is not paid because of such fiscal year limitation shall be paid in a lump sum at the beginning of the following fiscal year. Subjects any such lump sum payment to the fiscal year limitation. Exempts performance based cash awards, recruitment and relocation bonuses, and retention allowances from the lump sum requirement.

Reclassifies positions at GS-16, 17, and 18 as positions above GS-15 (Senior Level positions). Excludes positions in the Senior Executive Service (SES), the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Drug Enforcement Administration Senior Service from such category. Sets the minimum rate of basic pay for Senior Level positions at 120 percent of the minimum rate for GS-15 and the maximum rate at the maximum rate for level IV of the Executive Schedule. Provides that the payment of a rate of basic pay for Senior Level positions shall not be subject to the limitations with respect to pay fixed by administrative action. Authorizes OPM, for any executive agency, to: (1) establish, and from time to time revise, the maximum number of positions which may at any one time be classified as Senior Level positions; and (2) establish standards and procedures in accordance with which positions may be so classified. Excludes Senior Level positions from provisions relating to General Schedule pay rates.

Authorizes the Director of OPM to grant authority to agency heads to fix the basic rate of pay of up to 400 positions which require scientific technical, professional, or administrative expertise and are critical to the agency's successful accomplishment of an important mission. Provides that such authority may be granted or exercised only to the extent necessary to recruit or retain an individual well qualified for the position. Limits the basic rate of pay for such critical positions to the rate of basic pay for level I of the Executive Schedule, except upon presidential approval. Requires that not more than 30 out of the 400 positions may be Executive Schedule positions. Terminates such authority whenever OPM determines that the criteria for establishing the rate of pay are no longer met or as of such date as OPM may otherwise specify, except that the authority may not terminate before it has been available for at least one calendar year.

Establishes a new pay system for administrative law judges consisting of three or more rates of basic pay set by the President which may not be less than 120 percent of the minimum rate for GS-15 or more than the maximum rate for level IV of the Executive Schedule. Directs OPM to determine which such rates shall be paid to administrative law judges according to procedures which it shall by regulation prescribe.

Amends the Contract Disputes Act of 1978 to increase the compensation for officers and members of an agency board of contract appeals. Ties such compensation to pay rates of the Executive Schedule.

Authorizes OPM to establish special occupational pay systems for those occupations that it determines should not be: (1) classified under current classification authority; or (2) subject to the General Schedule. Limits rates of basic pay under such systems to level V of the Executive Schedule. Prohibits a special occupational pay system from providing for a waiver of any law, rule, or regulation relating to leave, workers compensation, unemployment insurance, retirement, life insurance, or health benefits. Subjects such systems to grade and pay retention provisions.

Eliminates the grade requirement for positions for which agencies may pay new employees above the minimum rate of the appropriate grade in order to attract candidates.

Authorizes agency heads to provide new employees with up to two pay periods' basic pay in advance upon commencement of service.

Authorizes the Director of OPM to waive on a case-by-case basis the application of provisions imposing financial penalties on reemployed civilian retirees under either the Civil Service or Federal Employees' Retirement System or military retirees in positions for which there is exceptional difficulty in recruiting or retaining qualified employees. Authorizes the Director to delegate such authority to agency heads for such reemployed individuals serving on a temporary basis as long as such authority is necessary due to an emergency involving a direct threat to life or property or other unusual circumstances.

Title II: Amendments Relating to Awards, Allowances, Differentials, and Other Related Matters - Authorizes OPM to permit agencies to grant employees time off, without loss of pay or leave, as an incentive award in recognition of superior accomplishment or other personal effort that contributes to the quality, efficiency, or economy of Government operations.

Increases the maximum uniform allowance from $125 per year to $400 per year and permits OPM to adjust the maximum amount by regulation.

Revises provisions which provide differentials for irregular or intermittent duty involving physical hardship or hazard to remove the references to irregular or intermittent duty and to authorize OPM to prescribe regulations applying such differentials to positions the classification of which accounts for the hardship or hazard involved.

Allows employees involved in certain emergency work to receive premium pay without regard to the usual biweekly limit as long as their annual aggregate pay does not exceed the maximum rate of basic pay for GS-15.

Extends the physicians' comparability allowance program from September 30, 1990, to September 30, 1995. Prohibits any service under such program from extending beyond September 30, 1997.

Authorizes OPM to apply provisions concerning health care personnel of the Veterans Health Services and Research Administration of the Department of Veteran Affairs with respect to classification, pay, and hours of work to certain health care employees in other Federal departments and agencies, under certain conditions.

Authorizes Federal agencies to pay: (1) travel and transporation expenses to candidates for Federal employment for job interviews; and (2) travel expenses to new appointees and student trainees, regardless of the nature of their appointment.

Authorizes Federal agencies to pay to an employee whose most recent performance rating was at or above the fully successful level a cash award of up to ten percent of the employee's annual rate of basic pay. Authorizes payment of cash awards of up to 20 percent of such pay for exceptional performance ratings.

Authorizes OPM to permit agency heads to pay lump-sum bonuses of up to 25 percent of basic pay to newly appointed employees or to any employee who must relocate to accept a position if the agency would otherwise encounter difficulty in filling the position. Requires the employee to enter into an agreement to complete a specified period of service with the agency to receive such bonus. Prohibits such bonus from being considered part of basic pay. Requires the employee to repay the bonus on a pro rata basis upon failure to complete the specified period of such service.

Authorizes OPM to permit agency heads to pay retention allowances of up to 25 percent of basic pay to employees who would otherwise be likely to leave the agency and who have unusually high or unique qualifications or if a special need of the agency for the employee's services makes it essential to retain the employee.

Title III: Miscellaneous Provisions - Authorizes the President to establish interim geographic adjustments of up to eight percent of basic pay for payment in January 1991 to employees in the consolidated metropolitan statistical areas of New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island, San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, or Los Angeles-Anaheim-Riverside or any other geographic area which the President considers appropriate.

Provides that nothing in this Act or in any amendment made by this Act shall have the effect of diminishing the basic pay of any individual employed by the United States on the enactment of this Act so long as that individual continues in such position without a break in service.

Requires comparability payments to begin on October 1, 1992.

Requires interim geographic adjustments to take effect on the enactment of this Act.