SEA Expresses Strong Opposition to Provision Passed by House Banning Performance Awards for VA Senior Executives

SEA Expresses Strong Opposition to Provision Passed by House Banning Performance Awards for VA Senior Executives

Washington, D.C. – Today, the Senior Executives Association (SEA) expressed its strong opposition to a provision contained in a measure passed by the House yesterday that bans performance awards for Senior Executives at the Veterans Affairs Department through FY18.

H.R. 357 deals with broad GI tuition fairness issues. The ban on performance awards is unrelated to the substance of the bill and has been included without any policy discussion on the effects of such a measure on the SES pay-for-performance system. Furthermore, the measure appears aimed at using VA Senior Executive compensation to pay for unrelated provisions in the legislation.

Performance awards underpin the concept of a pay-for-performance system. At the urging of the Bush Administration, Congress passed a law in 2004 creating the current pay and performance management system in which all SES pay adjustments are discretionary and based on performance, and Senior Executives are not eligible for locality pay. This system was implemented to make the SES pay system more comparable to the private sector. Capping or freezing performance awards only serves to break the promise of pay-for-performance and removes the incentives for strong performance that are built in to the system. Senior Executives at the VA are crucial to federal operations, especially as the agency faces increasingly complex challenges. H.R. 357 sends a negative message to VA Senior Executives that their work is not valued and that the pay-for-performance system is broken; further, it ties the hands of VA leadership which would be severely limited in its ability to recognize stellar performance.

SEA has continued to work with allies in the House to ensure they understood the impact of this provision, and will continue to work to end outright bans on performance awards in the Senate. Instead, SEA calls upon the Senate and the House to take up a comprehensive discussion of the SES pay and performance management system government-wide and stands willing to work on constructive, fair reforms.

The Senior Executives Association (SEA) is a professional association representing Senior Executive Service members and other career federal executives. Founded in 1980, SEA's goals are: to improve the efficiency, effectiveness and productivity of the federal government; to advance the professionalism and advocate the interests of career federal executives; and to enhance public recognition of their contributions. The SEA Professional Development League (PDL) is a nonprofit educational organization committed to advancing the professionalism of career federal executives through the sponsorship of training, recognition, and research activities.