If you’re one of the 187,000Â employees under the Defense Department’s performance-based pay system, figuring out how much your raise is going to be next year is sort of like doing your taxes — only worse. There’s no Turbo Tax equivalent for the National Security Personnel System.
Luckily (we think), the helpful folks at the Pentagon have just come out with a fact sheet that attempts to bring clarity to the complex pay formula that’s used to determine raises.
The raise is divided into three parts: an general salary increase, which is equal to 60 percent of the across-the-board pay raise provided to federal employees under the General Schedule; a local market supplement, which is equal to the GS locality pay rates; and a performance-based payout, which can be added on to base salary, paid as a bonus or some combination of the two.
For 2009, the General Schedule across-the-board pay raise is 2.9 percent, so NSPS employees who receive a performance rating of 2 or higher (out of 5 levels)Â will receive 60 percent of that total as a general salary increase. That amounts to 1.74 percent.
Still with us? Next, add to that the locality portion, which ranges from 0.49 percent in the Raleigh-Durham area of North Carolina and 0.62 percent in the rest of U.S. locality zone to 1.41 percent in San Francisco and 1.88 percent in the Washington-Baltimore metro area.
OK, here’s where the fun really begins. The final piece of the NSPS trilogy is the performance-based component, which is paid to employees who earn a performance rating of 3 or higher. The actual amount depends on the rating level earned, the amount of shares each employee receives and the dollar value of each share.Â The Defense Department hasn’t announced how much each share will be for 2009, so coming up with actual performance increases is impossible right now.
However, the Pentagon issued a theoretical example of how the raise could play out for an employee in the Washington area who earns a rating of 3, or valued performer, which is the most common given. Under this scenario, the employee would receive a 6.3 percent pay raise in January, in addition to a cash bonus of $1,080. That’s far above the 4.78 percent pay raise GS employees in the Washington area will receive.
Still, we can’t help but wonder whether there are NSPS employees out there who would trade a couple thousand dollars a year in potential salary and bonuses for the assurance of getting the same raise as every other federal employee — without the numbers-crunching headaches.