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Classification and Compensation

A compensation plan is a set of pay levels set within pay bands and performance management system that is intended to improve employees’ performance management for frequent feedback. Reform areas in compensation and performance management, workforce management, labor and employee relations are apart of government pay systems. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) ensures that reform goals and program goals make it accessible for new initiatives of the organization.

Position classification uses types of job evaluations, job analysis, factors, position, job, class, class series, and occupational group.

Classifications and grade level for a particular job through introduction, major duties and responsibilities, controls over the position and special qualification requirements. The Classification Act of 1949 created the general schedule GS pay plan with 18 categories to cover white collar workers. The 1970s behaviorist critique scientific management -oriented principals of traditional classification were counterproductive for more highly skilled, knowledge-oriented employees. Jay F. Atwood applied behavioral science principles to position classification.

Using broader position/organizational data, examining critical factors in individual - position relationships and applying behavior science/ organizational dynamics to position classification.

Frank J. Thompson’s influential study of personnel policies and politics in Oakland, CA. Categories were focused, differentiated, elemental, and blurred. Job evaluation policy act of 1970 made congress a coordinated classification system for all civilian positions and the US civil service commission. The Philip M. Oliver report declared the federal government’s classification and ranking systems obsolete. The federal wage system (FWS) required equal pay for substantially equal work. Job factors are usually categorized within the following five groupings (job requirements, difficulty of work, responsibility, personal relationships, other factors).

Adapting the general factor evaluation for the federal government based on nine factors: 

  1. Knowledge required by the position

  2. Supervisory controls

  3. Guidelines

  4. Complexity

  5. Scope and effect

  6. Personal contacts

  7. Purpose of contacts

  8. Physical demands

  9. Work environment



OPM in 1983 found that at least 14 percent of jobs were misclassified or over graded.


In 1986 the OPM made new initiatives to more toward more-flexible and simplified standards.

Salary Reform Act of 1962 required the president to submit an annual report to congress evaluating federal wage rates against those in the private sector. Pay gap was further exacerbated the cost-of-living differentials in different parts of the country.


Job evaluation and ranking in the federal government 1968 report made the grade reduction was proposed as a solution to problems of rigidity and arbitrariness.

1989 Banding system

Advantages were the best staff were rewarded more than before, able to vary annual awards instead of automatic yearly step increases, managers had greater flexibility to base staffing on institutional needs and individual desires.

Disadvantages were the annual review process was lengthy, labor intensive, and stressful for managers and staff, managers found it too time consuming and burdensome, and somewhat more expensive than the GS system.

Federal pay reform in the 1990s focused its greatest impacts on new linkages to local private sector wage rates or locality pay. The reform initiative of the 1990s broad banding had an advantage of broad or pay banding which came from combining grade levels and simplifying occupational categories.

Pay for performance (merit pay) agencies must have modern, effective, credible, and validated performance management systems capable of supporting pay and other personnel decisions.

Key practices for merit pay agencies: 

  • Aligning individuals performance expectations with organizational goals

  • Connecting performance expectations to crosscutting goals

  • Providing and routinely using performance information to rack organizational priorities

  • Requiring follow-up actions to address organizational priorities

  • Using competencies to provide a fuller assessment of performance

  • Linking pay to individual and organizational performance

  • Making meaningful distinctions in performance reviews

  • Involving employees and stakeholders to gain ownership of performance management systems

  • Maintain continuity during transitions for work promotions

Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act (FEPCA) of 1990

The FEPCA of 1990 was intended to provide locality pay adjustments based upon the cost of labor in metropolitan areas. The federal government wanted to make pay adjustments across the United States to provide equality to areas that were similar in economic status. For example, if San Francisco, California made a mean annual wage estimate for full-time employees than employees in Tallahassee, Florida would make similar mean wages. It was due to the pressing political issues that were created by public service workers arguing that there was not equal pay between the federal pay rates and the private sector. 

However, we have been receiving reports that many state metropolitan cities have been rising their standard of living costs. These living costs have been rising due to housing, insurance, food costs, child care services, transportation, utility costs, internet, education, and other public services. We must promote legislators that want to build new laws and appropriate organizations that help reduce the costs of living. 

What can we do to promote compensation and classification reform in public services? 

We need to get the news out about the types of benefits that are available to different public service workers. I strongly believe that if we advocate for these classifications and compensations then we will be able to provide better workers rights within our public organizations. Many times, public organizations are the foundation for many of social services that citizens need on a daily basis. It is important to build equality within the public sector by investing in our employee workforce through raises and other compensations. The types of legislations that I have included below were life changing for many people across the country however, there is still so much work to be done. Many of the commonly provided benefits are provided for full-time public service workers yet there are still benefits missing or limited for long-term care and disabilities. Certain benefits for education, flexible spending accounts, employee assistance programs, wellness programs, child care assistance, elder care assistance, alternative work arrangements. 

Mandatory benefits

  • Social security - old age, survivors, disability, health insurance 

  • Unemployment insurance 

  • Workers compensation 

Commonly Provided

  • Healthcare 

    • Traditional

    • Health Maintenance Organizations (HMO) 

    • Preferred Provided Organizations (PPO) 

    • Health Savings Accounts (HSA) 

  • Other 

    • Dental Insurance ​

    • Vision 

    • Long-term care 

    • Health care costs


  • COBRA (Consolidated Omnibus Reconciliation Act of 1985) ​

  • Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Obamacare) 

  • Time-off benefits

  • Life Insurance ​​

Other Benefits 

  • Education ​

  • Flexible Spending Accounts 

  • Employee assistance Programs 

  • Wellness Programs 

  • Child Care Assistance 

  • Elder Care Assistance 

  • Alternative Work Arrangements

We need to promote legislation that gives back to workers and communities that need government financial funding to create new positions, classification bands, and compensation packages. I am a firm believer in the right to gain benefits for all workers in public service no matter the hourly wage or hours completed each week/month. In the private sector working for big companies like Apple, you are given the opportunity for compensation benefits like healthcare (primary care, eye care, dental care, specialist), flex time off, sick time off, vesting stocks, and education benefits as a part time employee only working 20 hours a week. Unfortunately, in the public service sector you do not get these benefits for helping restore the lives of everyday Americans. In many public service part time positions you are given the same hourly wage with limited or no benefits compared to a major private sector company. Many people get into public administration work to make their communities a better place. Public sector workers do various tasks that keep our communities functioning. For instance, public city workers make roads, buildings, operate police stations, part time firefighters, public nurses, legal secretaries. tax collectors, part time public school teachers, and other administrative positions. These individuals starting out in an entry level position do not have the luxuries of compensation benefits like many big private company entry level workers. Although, human resource managers evaluate the job position and salary there is so much work to complete in public services that builds our communities. Public service has been falling drastically behind the private sector when it comes to compensation benefits packages. We the people must make a decision on the next steps to gaining equality within the public and private sector positions. 

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