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Old 02-10-2011, 05:02 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,740 posts, read 8,969,149 times
Reputation: 3858

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I'm in a real dilemma and would greatly appreciate informed advice from current Feds.

A few months ago, I (then and still a non-Fed) applied for a job with a DoD agency. The salary listed in the "open to the public" vacancy announcement (which I applied to) was a range from the NSPS system, which I will call XX-02. However, there was a note on the announcement that said "Position will be filled at high end of XX-02 pay band."

In addition, I stumbled upon a separate vacancy announcement for the same position, but open to status candidates (current Feds). This one had the same range but in the additional note said "...will be filled at high end of XX-02 pay band (GS-XX level)."

The pay band range spans about $50,000 from the lowest to highest possible salary. The GS level mentioned in the one listing was just under the top salary in the NSPS band.

It's now several months after my interview. After months of no information, they finally offered me the job--but only after I told them my current salary (at their insistence), which is much less than what they had advertised. And instead of being at the high end of the pay band (as advertised), their offer is in the middle--and that's only if you include the DC locality pay. If you subtract the 22.44%, the salary is in the LOW end of that pay band. Even with the locality pay, it is nowhere close to the GS level mentioned in the Feds-only announcement. It's about $15,000 less.

In other words, they're basically saying that they've chosen to ignore the "high end of XX-02" that was in the all-citizens announcement. The HR guy told me that his boss admitted that the hiring manager had made a mistake, but his HR director is not willing to honor what they had advertised.

What are my options? I'm really stunned. This just seems so unethical and devoid of integrity--and possibly even illegal. At the same time, I don't want to hastily decline what could be a long-term good option (working for DoD). I could bite the bullet and apply for other jobs--but then, this job is a long way from where I live and a lot more work.

Should I take it? Should I decline? Do I have any way to go over the head of the HR director?

I've even thought of informing the DoD IG office--which I'm assuming would punish the HR director who's refusing to honor the vacancy announcement and not the hiring manager (who would be my boss).

You may think that even a small raise is better than nothing--but my current job gives me free healthcare, no micromanagement, and a few additional days of vacation leave. It's also 9-5, very predictable, and is not that much work. They job they are offering is listed as senior level and entails a LOT of responsibility.

I realize I am lucky to have any job and doubly lucky to have this option of a new job. So I am not complaining. At the same time, I expect others to honor their word--especially DoD.

Thanks sincerely for any advice.
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Old 02-10-2011, 05:26 PM
 
10,606 posts, read 12,130,459 times
Reputation: 6498
Welcome to the world of the federal government.

I will tell you my experience.

I was hired in almost 3 years ago under NSPS. I was hired in the XX-02 band also which really spans a GS-12 and GS-13 pay range. Prior to NSPS, the job was under the GS schedule as a 13. When I was hired, before setting pay, HR *demanded* my current pay stub. They do that for everyone. I knew this was coming because I have many friends and co-workers who cross over to "the dark side." Still, as a lifetime private sector worker, it just rubbed me the wrong way and still does. I mean, why does my current salary have any bearing on what you will pay me in a new job. If you like me and I meet the experience required for the job, then I feel you should pay me what the job is worth. But that's not so for most hiring managers.

Our area of the agency has a standard "we will hire in at 5-6% above the applicant's current pay rate." Ridiculous. On very limited occasions, I have seen them go above that, for instance, when an applicant was woefully underpaid for what they were doing in the private sector and they want them in at the 13 level (and they have the experience to back it up). I have seen that happen two times in the past 6 years. They gave one person a 10% raise and another about a 12% raise.

Under NSPS, they did have more flexibility to hire in at various rates because of the pay banding. Our agency is officially under GS on Monday. We have not been able to hire using paybands for the last 6 months and that has put constraints on some people who were in the loop.

Whoever is hiring for this position does have the authority to hire you at the "top of the payband" but they either don't want to do the extra justification or they don't think they have a justification. Just because they advertised that they were going to hire in at that level, doesn't mean they would do it if the applicant was paid way under that currently. It's just the way the Feds do hiring business. They probably expected that they were going to get applicants who were already making that much and they were trying to entice them to apply by showing that they would not lose salary.
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Old 02-10-2011, 05:46 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,740 posts, read 8,969,149 times
Reputation: 3858
Thanks so much, Christine. I completely agree with you on current salary. Exactly--how is it relevant what I make now? Especially when my current job is so much easier? And it's really frustrating that they won't consider benefits as part of my current compensation.

Since you obviously know the NSPS system, could you tell me if they get regular annual step increases?

And do you think reporting this to OIG would achieve anything?

Really appreciate it!
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Old 02-10-2011, 06:36 PM
 
1,261 posts, read 5,614,620 times
Reputation: 553
Quote:
Originally Posted by ChristineVA View Post
Our area of the agency has a standard "we will hire in at 5-6% above the applicant's current pay rate." Ridiculous. On very limited occasions, I have seen them go above that, for instance, when an applicant was woefully underpaid for what they were doing in the private sector and they want them in at the 13 level (and they have the experience to back it up). I have seen that happen two times in the past 6 years. They gave one person a 10% raise and another about a 12% raise.
My experience in federal HR is dated, but I'll share what I observed both as an HR person and a hiring official. When hiring someone who doesn't have status, the "official practice" is to find the current salary in the proper grade and offer two steps over, which is approximately 6% more. To offer a higher salary than that the selecting official has to write a justification as to why the prospective employee would be a terrible loss if not hired and offered a higher salary. For most federal jobs, it's very hard to do so although some do it and prevail.

You ask what your options are. If the vacancy announcement truly had a statement that was inaccurate based on salary, the practice is to cancel the announcement and readvertise the position. Keep that in mind as you try to determine what you want to do. Good luck.
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Old 02-10-2011, 07:13 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,740 posts, read 8,969,149 times
Reputation: 3858
Thanks very much. That is helpful. Wow--I knew I'd get some useful answers on this forum. I was right!

What's extra frustrating about this situation is that I've only been in my current job for about a month, and it pays a few grand less than my old job. I interviewed for the DoD job in November, heard nothing, and then last month started my current job, which pays slightly less than the last one (but has way better benefits and work-life balance). So it's like they're punishing me for their own delays.
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Old 02-10-2011, 08:29 PM
 
696 posts, read 1,498,369 times
Reputation: 178
I thought NSPS has gone away and all parts of DoD that had been in it were reverting back to GS. In any instance, I understand the hiring official normally has the ability to document a justification for setting the selectee's pay within the band (or step level if GS) based on qualifications etc. My guess is that, because it's the easiest and most expedient, the HR person is basically treating you like a fed from the standpoint of setting pay in a new position. That is, your pay would be based on your current pay. You'll need to decide whether you need them to re-assess the starting pay or if you can accept less $ and not be bitter about this obvious bureaucratic situation. Good luck!
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Old 02-10-2011, 08:37 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,740 posts, read 8,969,149 times
Reputation: 3858
Thanks, Seattle. Yeah, this place is also moving out of NSPS (I believe back into GS). So much to think about.

Really appreciate all the replies.
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Old 02-10-2011, 08:49 PM
 
1,261 posts, read 5,614,620 times
Reputation: 553
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlingtonian View Post
What's extra frustrating about this situation is that I've only been in my current job for about a month, and it pays a few grand less than my old job. I interviewed for the DoD job in November, heard nothing, and then last month started my current job, which pays slightly less than the last one (but has way better benefits and work-life balance). So it's like they're punishing me for their own delays.
If your previous job is in a similar line of work then I suggest that you let the HR person know how much you were making in your previous job (assuming you were in it until you accepted this new position last month) and provide documentation to show your previous salary. It's perfectly alright to mention that you accepted your current position for better benefits and work-life balance.
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Old 02-11-2011, 04:13 AM
 
10,606 posts, read 12,130,459 times
Reputation: 6498
Quote:
Originally Posted by Carlingtonian View Post
Since you obviously know the NSPS system, could you tell me if they get regular annual step increases?

And do you think reporting this to OIG would achieve anything?

Really appreciate it!
Well since you would be transitioning out of NSPS it really doesn't matter but, NSPS works like private industry. You get a review every year and based on how you and your supervisor feel you performed, you get a score (1-5). That score equates to "shares". The shares have a value assigned to them and that is based on what the pot of money is in your particular code. Each code has a different pot of money and different share values. Your raise is based on that. You no longer get steps. I loved NSPS (minus all the stinking paperwork and drills) and I did much better on NSPS than on the GS scale. I work my but off and I'm lucky enough to have a fair/objective manager who rewards on performance (there are horror stories of favoritism but I haven't seen it in my code). As we transition back to GS, we will be placed at a step within the GS-13 band based on what we are making today.
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Old 02-11-2011, 05:06 AM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,740 posts, read 8,969,149 times
Reputation: 3858
Quote:
Originally Posted by mlv311 View Post
If your previous job is in a similar line of work then I suggest that you let the HR person know how much you were making in your previous job (assuming you were in it until you accepted this new position last month) and provide documentation to show your previous salary. It's perfectly alright to mention that you accepted your current position for better benefits and work-life balance.
Thanks. They do know; I applied for the DoD job while still in my last job. But I'll remind them (although doing so would sort of suggest I'm buying into their premise that my current salary is relevant to what they should pay me. But then, it sounds from what Christine is saying that there's no dissuading them of that idea.)
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