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Biden Issues Alternative Pay Letter for 2024 Federal Pay Raise

Biden Issues Alternative Pay Letter for 2024 Federal Pay Raise


By Ralph R. Smith

President Biden has issued the alternative pay plan letter to bring the 2024 federal pay raise one step closer to reality. This is a required step in the procedure for the pay raise for federal employees in any given year unless there is an intent to implement the Federal Employee Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (FEPCA). That has never happened since the bill was passed. Congress could also pass legislation to determine the amount of the pay raise. As that has not been done earlier this year, and there were several opportunities where Congress could have done so in legislation that was under consideration, that is unlikely to happen for the 2024 federal pay raise.

As expected, the annual pay plan letter proposes the same pay raise for federal employees next year that was initially put forth in the White House’s 2024 budget proposal. The 2024 federal pay raise will be an across-the-board base pay increase of 4.7% and locality pay increases averaging 0.5%. This will put the overall average pay increase at 5.2% for civilian Federal employees, consistent with the assumption in the president’s 2024 budget proposal.

We have created an estimated 2024 GS pay scale of the General Schedule (GS) base pay rates to give readers a general idea of how the 2024 federal pay raise will impact their base pay.

In effect, this means that federal employees in some areas will get a larger raise than others. Locality pay areas such as the Washington, DC metropolitan area and San Francisco pay areas get a larger pay raise because of the locality pay rate applied to their area.

In 2023, federal employees in Seattle-Tacoma came out ahead of all the others with a raise of 5.15%. With a pay raise of 4.35%, Corpus Christi was at the bottom of the list in 2023.

About 40 years ago, Congress passed the Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA). This law intended to change the way pay is set each year for the General Schedule and to maintain pay comparability by locality. It also called for establishing several special pay plans.

In short, FEPCA created a two-part annual pay adjustment for General Schedule federal employees. Each year, there is to be an across-the-board pay adjustment and a locality pay adjustment that varies by various locality pay areas.

The annual pay adjustment was to be an automatic adjustment based on a formula. Time has rendered this automatic adjustment irrelevant. No president has followed this formula since the law was enacted. As the formula would result in a large pay raise for the federal workforce again this year, that will not happen.

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