The White House announced a plan for a 2-year freeze on all federal civilian pay; essentially putting a hold on annual raises and cost of living increases through 2012. Last year’s pay increase for civilian federal workers was 2 percent. The last such pay freeze occurred 25 years ago. The White House claims the freeze will save the Federal Government up to $2B in FY2011 and $60B over the next decade.
During a Nov. 29 press conference, White House Communications Director, Dan Pfeiffer, said that the proposed freeze will not affect military pay. However, when asked if that meant that a military pay freeze was off the table, Pfeiffer was not willing to say what would be done about military pay. He did say that the President’s 2011 budget includes a 1.4 percent across-the-board increase in military base pay and the President plans to work closely with Defense Secretary Gates to determine how to approach military pay.
It is important to note that Secretary Gates has indicated he would rather cut troops than pay and benefits. But Gates has not publically indicated his position on a military pay freeze. Gates has signaled that he likes the idea of doing away with the current trend of annual across-the-board pay raises and move to a more targeted plan wherein certain servicemembers would get raises based on expertise, duty location, or experience. Changing the current trend could have a similar pay freezing effect for many members who are not in the targeted demographics.
During the Nov. 29 press conference, US Chief Performance Officer and OMB Deputy Director for Management Jeffrey Zients, stated federal hiring and promotions were not included in the freeze. Only annual raises and cost of living increases are to be frozen.
The WH has avoided the subject of military pay in their proposed federal pay freeze. But, with two high-profile bipartisan groups of advisors – the President’s Blue Ribbon Panel and the Debt Reduction Task Force – calling for changes to military pay and benefits, it seems a military pay freeze may be next.