Locality pay and NAF-to-GS transition

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Q. In August 2006, I was hired as a marketing/outreach/sponsorship director (nonappropriated funds). My responsibilities grew to include a supervisory role of the graphics department (two employees).

In August 2012, I had the opportunity to apply — and was selected for — public affairs specialist (1035-9). I am now the deputy public affairs officer. I was told that, with an NAF-to-GS transition, my pay would rise only to the next step. My concern is that the human resources office included locality pay as part of the equation in determining my GS pay. I didn’t receive locality pay at NAF and the cost-of-living adjustment was frozen. My annual pay at NAF was $53,000. My basic pay now is $44,333 but adding $9,217 in locality boosts the total to $53,550.

When I questioned the HR person, she said that was the way the rules were set up. Yet, the job announcement listed the salary for position at $50,000 to $65,000. This still doesn’t make sense to me. Can you help me understand the effect of locality pay on determining salary for NAF who transition to GS?

A. You moved from a NAF position to a GS position. Your new employer put you into the nearest step that would assure that you received at least as much basic pay as you had in your previous position. Although the base pay for that position was lower than you had been receiving, with locality pay, it was more. What you may not have understood is that in the GS system, locality pay is considered a part of basic pay. Therefore, the listed salary advertised for your position included basic pay, with the lower number applying to Step 1 and the upper to Step 10. If you stay at that grade level and perform satisfactorily, your pay will increase as you rise through the steps.

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Reg Jones was head of retirement and insurance policy at the Office of Personnel Management. Email your retirement-related questions to fedexperts@federaltimes.com.

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