Executive Order on Adjustments of Certain Rates of Pay (calendar year 2023 edition)

The Omnibus was silent on Federal Pay for 2023, so Biden’s previously announced 4.6% alternative pay plan will stand. The above Executive Order gives formal effect to the pay plan.

And, OMG, OMB actually has the various pay schedules online in a timely manner. A miracle. I was expecting to wait the usual week or more. :smile:

Level I . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $235,600 (Level I is Cabinet members and Directors of Independent Agencies)
Level II . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $212,100
Level III. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $195,000
Level IV . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $183,500
Level V . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $172,100

The Vice President has increased to $272,100. Members of Congress and Officers of Congress are unchanged.

I would note that the following judicial pay rates are subject to a mandatory cost of living increase that neither Congress nor the President can block, due to a court decision a few years back.

Chief Justice $298,500
Associate Justices $285,400
Circuit Judges $246,600
District/Trade Judges $232,600

The General Schedule, Military pay and locality rates are at the second link, along with other pay rates.

Chart of Judicial Pay going back to 1968.

Last years Article III judicial pay.

Chief Justice $286,700
Associate Justices $274,200
Circuit Judges $236,900
District/Trade Judges $223,400

Indicating, respectively, raises of:


The issue of pay compression is raising its head again.

Members of the Senior Executive Service are capped at Level II of the Executive Schedule if their agency has a Certified Performance Appraisal System and capped at Level III if the agency does not have such a system.

Employees on the General Schedule are capped at Level IV of the Executive Schedule.

Military pay is effectively capped when an officer reaches the grade of O-9 (Lieutenant General/Vice Admiral) and has 26 years of service. Neither additional service in grade nor promotion to O-10 (General/Admiral) will result in any further pay raise.

For employees on the General Schedule, the issue arises in those areas that have substantial locality adjustments.

Link to all the locality specific General Schedule tables.

If you live in the catch all “rest of United States” locality area which has the lowest locality pay, there is no compression, nor is there in many low cost of living areas.

But in New York City, pay is starting at Step 6 of Grade 15, which, of course, contains your most valuable General Schedule employees. Employees the Federal Government desperately needs to recruit and retain. Employees in GS-15 typically hold top level degrees and have a high degree of knowledge and skill in highly technical fields. Even without pay compression, recruiting these people to federal service is very difficult as they can typically make significantly more in the private sector. Pay compression exacerbates this problem.

The Senior Executive Service is the highest level of the Civil Service System, representing the highest levels of career managers and executives and certain high level technical people. People the Federal Government needs to retain in the worst way. Pay compression is particularly bad at this level.

In the short term, answer is to remove the arbitrary Level II and Level IV pay caps, which would end the pay compression.

In the long term, however, serious consideration is needed to completely revamping the pay structure of the Civil Service and replacing the outdated General Schedule with agency specific career ladders.

Just curious, this isn’t a Biden thing or anything like that, how do presidents get around spending must originate in Congress for the likes of payroll?

Isn’t cost of labor “spending”?

Congress puts a line item for salaries in the appropriations bills. Existing Federal law provides for automatic raises, but permits the President to issue an “alternative pay plan”, which is typically LOWER than what the default pay raise would be. This year, the average raise was 4.6%. That power is specifically granted to the President by statute and the funds for the salaries have been appropriated by Congress, this year in the Omnibus. Congress can technically override the President’s alternative pay plan by specifying a different level in the spending bill, but I don’t remember this happening, at least not in recent years.

There is an exception to this and it involves Article III Judicial Salaries.

In a case called Beer v United States, decided in 2012 and a subsequent case decided in 2014, the United States Court of Federal Claims, upheld by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, ruled that Congress unlawfully denied Article III Judges cost of living pay raises in numerous years since 1989 and further ruled that failing to raise Article III Judicial pay to account for inflation was a violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of salary protection for Federal Judges. Thus Federal Judge pay raises are now automatic and beyond the control of either the President or Congress.

Thank you for the explanation. I figured there had to be some reason that it was a thing, and I also generally like your explanations of things cause there’s generally very little BS.

Speaker Pelosi increased the limit for House staff pay to $212,100, which is directly equivalent to Executive Schedule Level II, from Biden’s pay order and also reflects the current maximum for Senior Executive Service members working at agencies with a certified appraisal system. Minimum staff pay is set to $45,000.

So senior staff will significantly out earn most Members, whose pay is $174,000.