We ran across an article in NTEU’s Chapter 60 “Watchdog” newsletter that shines a bright light on the games too many agencies play with their performance award money. Given that the story is written by one of the most thoughtful voices in NTEU and long-time anchor of their national bargaining teams, we are confident he has the facts correct. We have written repeatedly (See “Topics” column) about how unions can get force greater fairness out of agency award systems. We understand the pain NTEU feels in light of the fact that the union lost its contract right to a guaranteed awards budget in the 2015 round of negotiations. But, frankly, we also understand IRS’s need to hang on to its best managers after four years of totally dishonest political bludgeoning by a wing of Congress eager to defund government and reduce audits of wealthy donors. Looks like NTEU’s IRS unit might be following its second largest unit of Customs and Border Protection folks to the ranks of the chronically dissatisfied fed employees.  Here is the story we recommend you read.

We have been upset ever since we were informed that some managers were to receive pay banding raises of 7.7%. We then decided that we would do some research on our own time to find out how much managers have received over the past several years. So we went to the IRWeb and scanned the Pay Banding webpages and what we found was astounding. Looking at the most recent pay banding (PBI) increases that have been approved by the IRS’s Human Capital Board, we found that managers (on pay banding) who received an “outstanding” rating have seen their pay go up by 24.9% in the last 4 years, with increasingly larger raises after sequestration was passed in FY 13. (Source: IRWeb). Even managers who have been rated Exceeds in each of the last 4 years have seen their pay go up by 12% since 2013. No, that is not a misprint.

The PBI increases for “Outstanding” ratings: for the past four (4) years are as follows:

  • FY 13 – 4.5%
  • FY 14 – 5.9%
  • FY 15 – 6.8%
  • FY 16 – 7.7%

While this may seem outrageous on its face, it is even more infuriating because of all of the statements made by Agency Executives and attorneys at the contract bargaining table during these periods of time. At the table, IRS proclaimed that, because of budget cuts, there was insufficient money to continue certain programs. Among the many statements of financial woe that were uttered across the table: (Note: Most are direct quotes, and some are paraphrased).

  • “There has to be a ‘paradigm shift’ in terms of cost cutting and lower spending.”
  • “We cannot afford to pay for BU awards or QSIs at the current levels. They have to be cut.”
  • “We have to wait until the end of the FY to determine whether we have any money left for performance awards.”
  • “Business divisions do not have money in the budget to backfill needed positions” (See, e.g., TAC offices, admin support positions)
  • “There has to be a hard cap on steward travel. Once NTEU hits the cap, there will be NO additional money expended for travel.” “There will be no money for Union travel for training in this contract – NONE!!”
  • “We will only be able to train employees to the extent funds permit it.”
  • “We cannot afford to continue the loaner laptop program for recurring teleworkers.”
  • “We can no longer afford to pay for IVTs for retirement planning – it costs too much.”
  • “We will not pay for paper or toner cartridges for Chapters to use with IRS-issued equipment – they should use Chapter funds if they want that equipment.” (This comment despite the fact that management causes all of the work NTEU must do and besides the fact that they pay for these items for our counterpart-HR).
  • These statements, which were heard with our own ears fly in the face of reality and the facts. Obviously, management has no problem taking funds from other areas and dumping the funds into their pay banding trough.

It is outrageous and ridiculous and results in no one believing anything these people say. They certainly take care of their own. They lose 30% of the employees and gain 7.7% in pay. And the employees who actually do the work to make the managers succeed are limited to one (1) percent. That sounds fair doesn’t it? At this rate of growth, pay banding managers rated outstanding will be getting a 10% increase every year, and they are certainly worth it, right?

About AdminUN

FEDSMILL staff has over 40 years of federal sector labor relations experience on the union as well as management side of the table and even some time as a neutral.
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