Within-grade increases “should never be viewed as automatic or routine” John Berry, Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) told agency heads in a memo last week.  Berry reminded agencies that in order to be able to receive a within grade increase, “a GS employee’s performance must be at an acceptable level of competence,” (Fully Successful or higher) before they can be granted a within-grade raise.

Berry urged agency heads to review pay and performance policies and practices to ensure that within-grade increases are paid only in accordance with the law and regulations and to make appropriate corrections and improvements, if necessary.  For assistance, he referred agencies to additional information provided by OPM on eligibility and payment requirements.

Earlier, the administration determined that within-grade increases were allowable under the two-year pay freeze adopted into law in December when the FY2011 Continuing Resolution was extended until March 4, 2011.  Some House members have criticized the pay freeze policy because it allowed with-in grade raises.  And, in a move to further limit federal civilian pay increases, the House-passed FY2012 Defense Authorization bill would prohibit annual pay raises for employees who receive a “below satisfactory” performance rating.