6/12/07: Late yesterday the full House Appropriations Committee passed the recommendations of the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government which contained a number of NTEU’s priority legislative issues. These measures, included in the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act of FY 2008 are expected to be considered on the House Floor next week.
First, the federal employee pay raise of 3.5 percent for 2008 was approved. This amount is one half percent higher than the President recommended and is equal to the 2008 military pay raise approved by the House and reported in the Senate. President Bush recently issued a statement opposing the additional .5% stating that it was unnecessary. NTEU has advocated for pay parity between the military and federal civilian workforce for many years. This 3.5 percent raise for federal employees will begin to close the pay gap with the private sector and enable federal agencies to compete for the talented and dedicated employees they need. Representative Steny Hoyer applauded the vote, noting that "Pay parity . . . recognizes that pay for civilian and military employees simply has not kept pace with increases in the private sector. I will continue to work to secure a fair pay adjustment for federal employees in recognition of their service to our country."
Second, the committee capped the IRS’s ill-conceived private tax collection program at $1 million. NTEU is pleased with this development because, as NTEU President Colleen Kelley repeatedly testified, tax collection is an inherently governmental responsibility and should remain with the IRS. The IRS’s misguided private tax collection program pays contractors bounties to collect taxes that its own employees could easily do for far less. Members of the Appropriations Committee acted in the interests of taxpayers and federal employees in curtailing the program.
Third, the committee approved language to level the playing field in contracting out competitions throughout the federal government and makes permanent the changes in law. Under the committee-passed bill, employees will be given the opportunity to submit bids for work for which they are qualified and can efficiently perform without facing the unfair obstacles that currently exist. The language precludes private sector companies from reducing health benefits or offering inferior retirement benefits to their employees in order to reduce costs. It also provides an avenue for employee appeals in contracting disputes. Finally, it states that the Office of Management and Budget shall not require or direct agencies to undertake competitions.
While these provisions in the appropriations bill are significant, the bill must still pass the House and Senate. NTEU will closely monitor floor developments and oppose any amendments to change or reduce these positive developments for federal employees.