John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks Upon Signing the Postal Service and Federal Employees Salary Act of 1962

October 11, 1962

I am delighted to approve H.R. 7927, which is a bill adjusting postal rates, reforming Federal white-collar statutory salary systems, and establishing a standard for adjusting annuities under the Civil Service Retirement Act.

The new postal rates will yield on an annual basis about $600 million of new postal revenues. This is consistent with the fiscal principles I have advocated and is an important step toward a self-sustaining postal system and toward a substantial reduction in the postal deficit.

The new pay legislation is the most comprehensive and significant salary revision in nearly 40 years. It establishes for the first time a basic salary policy, a method for annual review and updating of salaries, coordination among major statutory salary systems, and broad reforms and increased flexibility's under the Classification Act.

It is not merely a salary-increase statute. It furnishes a foundation for adjusting and continuously maintaining Federal salaries comparable to levels of equal difficulty and responsibility in private enterprise. Ultimately it will permit us to prevent large scale attrition of Government employees due to more attractive private industry salaries. At the same time, it should not have an unsettling effect on private enterprise salary rates. By helping to reduce turnover, by attracting more capable people into the Federal service, and by improving employee morale, this legislation will make an important contribution to increased productivity.

The provision of higher salaries for Federal employees and the plan to maintain these salaries at a level comparable to the salaries paid in the private economy places an added obligation upon Federal managers to make certain that the Government's business is carried on with the minimum number of personnel. To this end I am separately issuing to all Departments and agencies of the executive branch a memorandum which will set forth a program to achieve better manpower controls and utilization.

This legislation also establishes objective standards for adjusting annuities payable in the future under the Civil Service Retirement Act. This is a long overdue reform.

As Congress recognized in enacting this legislation, a number of items now require further attention and I am instructing the executive agencies to pursue these matters promptly. Of first priorities for the executive branch are completion of the partial adjustment in the top career salaries made by the Congress and the pay revision of the highest executive salaries, so that sound relationships among all pay levels are achieved. In this connection, I believe that corresponding reforms in salary structure are desirable in the congressional and judicial branches of Government and should be accomplished early in the next Congress.

I want to express my appreciation to all the Members of the House and Senate who were involved. Some of those who were most active are here today. We are also glad to have 'represented today the leaders of many of the organizations which help serve the interests of the employees of the Federal Government. I think that because the power to strike is denied, quite properly, to Federal employees, I think it is most important that we recognize our responsibility, the Congress and the Executive, to them.

As I said, as these salaries become more in keeping with the salaries in private industry, it is also important that we maintain a comparable rate of productivity increase possible to the extent that Government work permits. I hope that the statement we issue later in the day will stimulate action by responsible officials in the National Government.

Note: The President spoke at 9:15 a.m. in his office at the White House. As enacted, H.R. 7927 is Public Law 87-793 (76 Stat. 832).

John F. Kennedy, Remarks Upon Signing the Postal Service and Federal Employees Salary Act of 1962 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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