The Foreign Service Journal - November 2014 - page 82

AFSA Files Cohort Grievance on State OCP Adjustments
On Aug. 22, the State
Department announced that
it had overpaid Overseas
Comparability Pay in Fiscal
Year 2014 and would adjust
OCP for one pay period to
avoid exceeding the statu-
tory cap.
The FY 2014 Appropria-
tions Act changed the basis
for the State Department’s
payment of Overseas Com-
parability Pay from 16.52
percent of base pay to “no
more than two-thirds of
Washington, D.C., Locality
Pay,” which works out to be
16.14 percent of base pay.
Employees were not
informed until Aug. 22 that,
to avoid exceeding the
statutory cap in FY 2014,
OCP would be reduced to
9.1 percent of base pay for
Pay Period 18—starting on
Sept. 7. Going forward from
Pay Period 19, OCP would be
paid at 16.14 percent.
AFSA agrees that the
department has an obliga-
tion to correct the OCP so
as not to exceed the newly
authorized cap (see State
001596). However, AFSA
maintains that the adjust-
ments for individual employ-
ees should be in line with the
amounts needed to recover
the excess payments.
The department’s pro-
posed mechanism exceeds
actual overpayment by
amounts ranging from $15
to $248, depending on how
long the employee has been
overseas. It is particularly
egregious for those employ-
ees who recently joined the
department, or who recently
arrived at their overseas
post; they are being treated
as if they had received OCP
for the entire year.
AFSA proposed, prior to
the Aug. 22 announcement,
that the most equitable
implementation would be for
the department to calculate
actual repayment amounts
for all of the approximately
11,000 employees affected,
as it did for the 2,000
employees who received
OCP for part of the year but
are now receiving appropri-
ate locality pay in the United
Accordingly, AFSA will file
a cohort grievance with the
department on behalf of For-
eign Service employees who
may have their pay reduced
in Pay Period 18 in amounts
larger than they were over-
paid since Jan. 1.
Going forward, AFSA
continues to seek legislation
from Congress for perma-
nent authorization and full
funding of Overseas Compa-
rability Pay. This is a top leg-
islative priority in the AFSA
2013-2015 strategic plan
and a
major focus of congressional
advocacy (see
AFSA is working closely
with the department on the
shared objective of full OCP
authorization and funding.
Earlier this year, before pas-
sage of the FY 14 Appropria-
tions Act, AFSA President
Robert J. Silverman reit-
erated AFSA’s request in
letters to appropriators (see
and, in September, to
authorizers (see
AFSA looks to Secre-
tary of State John Kerry
for leadership to achieve a
permanent OCP authoriza-
tion, as part of his legacy to
the department. It is Sec.
Kerry who, while in the Sen-
ate, introduced the Foreign
Service Overseas Pay Equity
Act of 2008, which became
the basis for the authorizing
language appearing in the
2009 Supplemental Appro-
priations Act.
–Compiled by Debra
Blome, Associate Editor
For the fifth year in a row, AFSA received the high-
est possible commendation after its annual audit:
a clean (unmodified) opinion. The accounting firm
of Clifton Larson Allen LLP found no deficiencies
in AFSA’s financial operations.
During 2013, AFSA continued to steadily
upgrade its financial management and related
governance procedures. The renewed attention to
such matters was sparked several years ago and
has been carried through into 2014. AFSA’s finan-
cial strength has enabled it to deepen services
and professionalize as an organization.
AFSA Executive Director Ian Houston lauds the
financial oversight roles that former AFSA Trea-
surer Andrew Winter and current AFSA Treasurer
Charles Ford played in achieving this rating.
“The Finance, Audit and Management Com-
mittee that the treasurer chairs has played a vital
fiduciary role,” Houston says. “The entire leader-
ship team executed a superb transition in 2013.”
AFSA continues to seek legislation from
Congress for permanent authorization and
full funding of Overseas Comparability Pay.
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