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Memorandum on Freezing Federal Employee Pay Schedules and Rates That Are Set by Administrative Discretion

December 22, 2010

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

Subject: Freezing Federal Employee Pay Schedules and Rates That Are Set By Administrative Discretion

On November 29, 2010, I proposed a two-year freeze in the pay of civilian Federal employees as the first of a number of difficult actions required to put our Nation on a sound fiscal footing. As I said then, Federal workers are not just a line in a budget. They are public servants who, like their private sector counterparts, may be struggling in these difficult economic times.

Despite the sacrifices that I knew a pay freeze would entail for our dedicated civil servants, I concluded that a two-year freeze in the upward statutory adjustment of pay schedules is a necessary first step in our effort to address the challenge of our fiscal reality. The Congress responded to my proposal by including such a freeze in the Continuing Appropriations and Surface Transportation Extensions Act, 2011 (H.R. 3082), which I signed into law today (the "Act"). The Act freezes statutory pay adjustments for all executive branch pay schedules for a two-year period. It also generally prohibits executive departments and agencies from providing any base salary increases at all to senior executives or senior level employees, including performance-based increases.

While this legislation will prevent adjustments in executive branch pay schedules that are made by statute, some laws allow such adjustments to be made by agency heads as an exercise of administrative discretion. In order to ensure consistent treatment of executive branch employees and to promote the fiscal purposes of my original proposal, agency heads who have such discretion should not provide any upward adjustments in Federal employees' pay schedules or rates during the two-year period covered by the statutory pay freeze.

Accordingly, you should suspend any increases to any pay systems or pay schedules covering executive branch employees that could otherwise take effect as a result of an exercise of administrative discretion during the period beginning on January 1, 2011, and ending on December 31, 2012. You also should forgo any general increases (including general increases for a geographic area, such as locality pay) in covered employees' rates of pay that could otherwise take effect as a result of the exercise of administrative discretion during the same period. To the extent that an agency pay system provides performance-based increases in lieu of general increases, funds allocated for those performance-based increases should be correspondingly reduced to reflect the freezing of the employees' base pay schedule.

This memorandum shall be carried out to the extent permitted by law and consistent with executive departments' and agencies' legal authorities. This memorandum is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.

The Director of the Office of Personnel Management shall issue guidance on implementing this memorandum, and is also hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.


NOTE: This memorandum was published in the Federal Register on December 29.

Barack Obama, Memorandum on Freezing Federal Employee Pay Schedules and Rates That Are Set by Administrative Discretion Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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