Is Uncle Sam's Salary System Decayed and Ineffective?

An opinion piece in Government Executive argues that the General Schedule’s demise is past due. 

Outside of the U.S. government, no other employer in the world — in any sector — has relied on the same salary system for six decades. The armies of clerks who were prevalent in 1949 have been replaced by technical “knowledge workers.” Management practices that were dominant then were rejected by most employers long ago. Pay programs are decidedly different today.

With the exception of locality differentials, the General Schedule has been static. With salaries frozen, this is the best time to make the tough decisions about pay. Then a new program could be in place when agencies are allowed to grant salary increases. Agreement now on replacing the GS system could avert unnecessary wrangling in next year’s political debate.

Here are 10 reasons why a new system is needed:

  • A prominent trend in other countries is increased emphasis on accountability and results. A corollary trend is the delegation of workforce planning to front-line supervisors. Several countries hand off salary management to local offices. The GS system precludes giving that responsibility to managers.
  • The General Schedule differs from salary systems in other sectors on two key issues — pay for performance and market alignment. Outside of government, employers rely on separate systems for professionals, office support and technician jobs, as well as for engineers and technology specialists. This helps employers respond to hiring and salary trends. Government has several separate systems, but it needs more.

 Read on for the other reasons…

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1 Comment »

  1. dave said,

    November 29, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Should all government employed personnel get payed the exact same and no mare than the average private working sector of the district they govern? would this not make the government ensure the private sector plenty of work and competitive pay. would this not also significantly reduce lack of productivity in gov offices.I thought people worked in the gov to help others not themselves!

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