Daily Dose: White House Caps Federal Pay Awards

In an effort to further trim the fat from the federal budget, the White House is capping the amount of money available for employee awards, according to the Washington Post. The new policy limits the total amount of money available for performance awards, not how much can be awarded to an individual. Specifically, the award money for SES level workers cannot exceed 5% of the agency’s aggregate SES salaries, and the award money for workers in all other positions cannot exceed 1% of the agency’s aggregate salaries.

The memo indicates the dissatisfaction administration officials have with the current awards process: “In many cases, awards are broadly and inconsistently allocated, and some Federal employees have come to expect awards as part of their compensation. At the same time, recent survey results show that a large number of both agency managers and employees do not perceive the current employee performance management/award systems to be fair or accurately reflect differences in performance levels.”

Administration limits total federal pay awards

For employees in non-senior positions, awards are already quite small, so this new policy may not have a huge impact on the budget. Additionally, if the awards system is unfair or inconsistent, it may not be encouraging federal employees to work harder. Taken from another perspective, do you expect to receive an end-of-year bonus or award? Is it an important performance incentive for government employees?


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Carol Davison

At the SES Forum today, OPM Director John Berry explained that they were protecting and preserving this benefit for Federal employees. I trust them to protect our jobs even more so.

Doniele Ayres

Why only consider SES bonuses? Why not retention pay? In my opinion the issue of reducing bonuses for performance is directly related to expectations. If employees don’t perform why should they get a bonus? If a manager signs a plan that says an employee performs but in fact they don’t then the manager should not get a bonus. Accountability is the issue-along with the fact that ‘free money’ has been handed out.

Will Saunders

This is good, but I also think there should be limits on how often – or how frequently – the same person can get an award. I sometimes believe that while awards are certainly based on some measure of the employee’s merit, there is a great deal of bias involved. At award ceremonies, I have seen a few people keep showing up as recipients fairly often. So for instance, if “Employee A” can’t get but 1% this time, she could get another 1% next time, and then another 1% the next time, and so on, and so on, and so on.

I would propose having a limit on the receipt of monetary awards. Employees could only receive up to the 5% or the 1% every two years. That would help to encourage spreading of the wealth. Furthermore, I love monetary awards as much as anyone else, however, the more important thing for me is being recognized for my contributions. Getting a non-monetary award such as a Plaque or a “Letter of Appreciation” or maybe a “Time off Award” would be just as meaningful sometimes.