Bush approves 3.1 percent pay raise

President Bush has formally approved a 3.1 percent average pay raise for white-collar federal employees next year.

The raise is included in the fiscal 2006 Transportation-Treasury appropriations measure (H.R. 3058), which Bush signed Wednesday.

The 3.1 percent increase provides pay parity between civilians and military service members. The Bush administration had proposed a 2.3 percent civlian increase, but as in previous years, the president ultimately accepted a larger raise backed by both the House and Senate.

Now President Bush must decide how the raise will be divided between an across-the-board increase and locality pay differentials. Earlier this year, the Federal Salary Council recommended that 2.1 percent be allocated to across-the-board pay and 1 percent to locality raises. Historically, the president has followed the council's advice.

Colleen Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, Thursday called on President Bush to issue an executive order immediately detailing how the raise would be divided. Such an action, she said, "would send not only an important message to federal workers about the value of their efforts on behalf of the American people, it would send the right message."

The Transportation-Treasury measure also includes provisions designed to help federal employees whose jobs are placed up for competition with private firms under the Bush administration's competitive sourcing initiative.

Under the legislation, agencies must let in-house employees form a team and defend their jobs against outside bidders any time more than 10 positions are at stake. In those contests, federal employee teams will be granted a cost advantage amounting to either 10 percent of personnel-related costs or $10 million--whichever is lower.