by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The top “1 percent” of the federal civil service will be eligible for much bigger pay bonuses next year, according to a new Office of Personnel Management (OPM) advisory.
Agencies can now give bonuses to top executives from a pool amounting to 7.5 percent of their total spending on Senior Executive Service (SES) salaries, up from 4.8 percent. An individual can get an annual bonus of more than that percentage. SES employees earn base salaries of up to $181,000, and 7.5 percent of that is $13,500.
Members of the SES represent less than 1 percent of the federal workforce, and are generally permanent career civil servants. In some ways, this makes them more influential than political appointees who often stay in a government job only about 18 months.
The SES was created by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 as the federal government’s top career managers. They received higher pay in return for agency heads having more flexibility in assigning SESers to new jobs.
In the decades since, however, SESers have been represented by a powerful lobbying force, the Senior Executives Association (SEA). SEA has lobbied to give them the pay and power of at-will managers at major corporations, but with the job security of a unionized blue-collar worker or tenured college professor.