SEA's Legislative Accomplishments

Over the last decade, SEA's involvement on policy issues affecting the SES has been instrumental in raising the profile of Senior Executives and driving the conversation in Congress on SES policies. Through extensive outreach and education efforts to Congress and the Administration, SEA has a significant voice in policy discussions that cover a range of issues, including pay reform, diversity in the SES, hiring reform, and career leadership issues. Many of these discussions are on-going and SEA continues to push forward on its legislative agenda.

For 2013 and into the future, SEA remains the only voice of the SES and equivalent systems addressing executive issues with the administration, Congress, and where appropriate, public opinion. As Congress continues to push legislation that would negatively impact Senior Executives, SEA is successfully blocking many of the most harmful proposals and countering with positive legislation to strengthen the career senior leadership corps and government operations.

The following are just a sampling of the recent legislative successes that SEA has achieved.

Successfully Prevented STOCK Act Internet Posting Provision

On August 2, 2012, SEA joined an ACLU lawsuit as the lead plaintiff seeking an injunction to block the internet posting provision for certain financial disclosure forms. SEA's continued work in the lawsuit and with Congress led to multiple delays in implementation of the provision until Congress ultimately voted against the provision taking effect on April 2, 2013.

Secured Introduction of the SES Reform Act

SEA was successful in securing support and co-sponsors for introduction of companion legislation in the 112th Congress that addresses pressure points within the SES system and offers solutions for strengthening the career senior leadership corps.

Secured Passage of Legislation to Credit FERS Employees for Unused Sick-Leave

SEA was instrumental in introducing the concept for this legislation to Rep. Moran (D-VA) and then working with Members of Congress to secure passage of this legislation.

Pushed Legislation to Allow Agencies to Reemploy Annuitants without Penalty to their Annuity

SEA worked with relevant House and Senate Committees to ensure that this legislation passed as part of the FY2010 National Defense Authorization Act.

Protected Senior Executives in Whistleblower Reform Legislation

SEA worked closely with Senator Collins (R-ME) and the Administration to craft an acceptable compromise to ensure that jury trials were not included in the final version of the whistleblower reform legislation.


SEA successfully fought to provide SL/STs with the same benefits enjoyed by members of the SES. These included:

Getting SL/STs the Right to be Considered for and Receive Presidential Rank Awards

Prior to 2001, SL/STs were not eligible to be considered for the Presidential Rank Awards. SEA introduced legislation to amend the law, which was passed in 2001 and went into effect in 2003. SL/STs are now eligible to be considered for the awards in the same manner as members of the SES.

Lifting the SL/ST Leave Cap

In early 2008, the President signed into law the 2008 Defense Authorization Act. Inserted in this bill was a provision offered by SEA that lifted the SL/ST Annual Leave Cap to the same level as that for the SES. SL/STs can now accumulate up to 90 days (720 hours) of leave each year.

Ensuring SL/STs Receive 8 Hours of Annual Leave per Pay Period

Another provision pushed by SEA that brought SL/STs to the same level as the SES and allows SL/STs to accrue 8 hours of annual leave per bi-weekly pay period.

Lifting the SL/ST Pay Cap

In late 2008, SEA was successful in working with Congress to pass legislation to lift the SL/ST pay cap. The pay cap for SL/STs is now at Level II for a certified agency, up from Level III of the Executive Schedule.

Past Accomplishments:

  • Successfully pushed legislation that contained a provision granting 8 hours of leave per biweekly pay period for SES and certain Senior-level positions.
  • Ensured that DHS and DoD did not eliminate all SES structure and protection and give the Secretaries of Defense and Homeland Security complete authority to restructure the career SES. This was a real threat at the time DHS was created and a year later when NSPS was established.
  • Succeeded in 2003 in ensuring that the new SES system included an increase in the pay cap for Senior Executives working in certified agencies.
  • When federal executive pay was set each year by the President, SEA played a key role in raising pay each year but one for a total increase of 167 percent. From 1981 to 2003, ES-4 pay went from $50,112 to $133,800, an increase of $83,688.
  • Secured the passage of legislation making SL (Senior Level) and ST (Scientific and Professional) positions eligible for Presidential Meritorious and Distinguished Rank Awards.
  • Secured passage of legislation raising the Presidential Meritorious and Distinguished Rank Awards from $10,000 and $20,000 to 20 percent and 35 percent of pay, respectively, thus restoring the awards to their original value. For a member of the SES making the average rate of basic pay at the end of FY 2006. $154,960, a Meritorious Rank Award became worth $30,992, and a Distinguished Rank Award, $54,236.
  • Supported Regulations to Continue the MSBP - The MSPB system was at risk for DHS and DoD employees. SEA took a strong position on this and the result was the issuance of DHS regulations that continue appeals to the MSPB for adverse actions and revision of NSPS legislation to keep MSPB appeals for DoD employees.
  • Secured the initial inclusion, in 1994, of career executives in locality-based pay adjustments. In 2003, with locality pay, an ES-4 received $142,500; without it, ES-4 would have received only base pay ($133,800). (The Defense Authorization Act of 2004 eliminated locality pay for the SES; however, former locality amounts are now included in basic pay.)
  • Secured passage of the Frequent Flyer Legislation making mileage accrued on Federal travel available for private use.
  • Secured passage of legislation removing the cap on the number of Senior Executives in each agency who may receive a bonus.
  • Initiated and secured the passage of a law that dramatically increases the pool of money available for SES performance awards from 3 percent of SES payroll in each agency to 10 percent of SES payroll.
  • Secured significant benefits and protections in the SES performance-based recertification process. (The recertification process was legislatively eliminated in 2003.)
  • Proposed and secured legislation for fall-back to GS-15 or above positions for career senior executives caught in a reduction in force.
  • Originated and secured "last-move-home" benefits for senior executives (and the spouses of deceased executives) geographically relocated within five years of their eligibility for an annuity.
  • Helped defeat a pay raise recall in 1987 and an attempted 5-percent pay reduction in 1992, and filed a brief in Humphrey v. Baker in support of the pay increase and pay-setting process for executives.
  • Developed and secured legislation that allows executives to appeal adverse actions after retiring in the face of action.
  • Developed and secured legislation allowing the Merit Systems Protection Board to mitigate overly harsh agency penalties in SES conduct appeals.
  • Secured passage of legislation limiting agency authority to detail executives during the 120 day "get acquainted" period and the issuance of the Office of Personnel Management's regulations limiting agency authority to reduce executive rank and pay.
  • Proposed and secured legislation requiring agencies to reimburse executives for up to one half the cost of their liability and legal defense insurance.
  • Designed beneficial provisions that were incorporated in Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) legislation, including the tax-deferred savings plan for both FERS and Civil Service Retirement System employees. SEA actively represents Senior Executives on the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board Advisory Council.
  • Led the establishment of a coalition of management and executive groups to provide a stronger voice for federal supervisory issues on Capitol Hill, the Government Managers Coalition.
  • Created the Public Employees Roundtable to inform Americans about the quality and contributions of public.

For 2011 and into the future, SEA continues to be the only voice of the SES and equivalent systems addressing executive issues with the administration, Congress, and where appropriate, public opinion. When passed, our proposed SES Reform Legislation will further improve the system, necessarily within the constraints of today's budgetary shortfalls and the highly politicized atmosphere which unfortunately exist.

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