2019 federal pay raise in final stages, Trump administration says

The executive order and associated tables that will make the 1.9 percent federal pay raise official for civilian employees in 2019 is nearing completion, the Trump administration said Wednesday.

“We’re in the final legal clearance stage,” Margaret Weichert, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, told reporters. “I know that sounds like you’ve heard that before. To me this is an object lesson in the complexity of our pay systems.”

The 1.9 percent retroactive pay raise was part of the 2019 spending bill President Donald Trump signed into law back on Feb. 15. Federal employee unions and members of Congress have been asking for updates on the timing of the raise for weeks.

Weichert, who also serves as the acting director of the Office of Personnel Management, said she understands that federal employees are frustrated that they haven’t seen the raise, or a lump sum representing retroactive pay for the first three months of the year, reflected in their checks yet.

“[We’re] dealing pay tables that are so highly complex that it is exceedingly legalistic how we actually have to get this squared away,” she said. “Some people have thought that it’s [a problem] with the payroll process; it’s nothing to do with that. It is purely a lawyering activity that is near its end.”

Before the federal pay raise becomes official, Trump must first sign an executive order that provides a 1.4 percent across-the-board bump with an additional 0.5 percent in adjusted locality pay. OPM will issue new pay tables that describe federal employees’ adjusted salaries based on General Schedule level and locality pay area.

Part of the “highly complex” nature of finalizing these tables may lie in the fact that the Trump administration approved six new locality pay areas in late 2018. Whenever the 2019 raise becomes official, nearly 72,000 employees in Birmingham, Alabama; Burlington, Vermont; Corpus Christi, Texas; Omaha, Nebraska; San Antonio, Texas; and Virginia Beach/Norfolk, Virginia, will see their pay adjusted at different rates with the addition of these six new locality areas.

Weichert did not provide a specific timeline for when the federal pay raise would be made official. A spokeswoman for Rep. Mike Quigley (D-Ill.), the chairman of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government, previously told Federal News Network could come as soon as the March 22 pay check or as late as the April 5 check.

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