The Office of Personnel Management said “within-grade increases” are still not allowed, warning that personnel actions for such benefit have been processed in violation of a 2001 suspension. OPA said that effective immediately, it will return any such personnel action to the originating department or agency because of the “continued suspension of the benefit.”
“These violations create an inconsistency in enforcement that cannot be allowed. The suspension of within-grade increases must be enforced until the governor determines and announces otherwise,” acting Personnel director Joseph M. Pangelinan said in an April 7 memo to departments and activity heads.
OPM also sent copies of the memo to Gov. Eloy S. Inos and the Legislature. Lawmakers said yesterday they have yet to read the memo.
Pangelinan said OPM continues to receive requests for personnel action for employee within-grade increases, a subject that he personally discussed with the Civil Service Commission. CSC has been reviewing employee benefits.
He said the commission pointed out that the within-grade increase is “still under suspension due to Governor Pedro P. Tenorio’s determination in 2001 that there was insufficient public funding for WGIs.”
Such determination has been continuously upheld and maintained by subsequent governors.
Pangelinan, in his one-page memo, said Gov. Eloy S. Inos recently stated that the CNMI still does not have sufficient funding to restore within-grade increase benefit.
“Accordingly, within-grade increases cannot be approved and processed,” he said.
Pangelinan said in OPM and CSC’s review, they have noted that “some personnel actions for WGIs have been processed in violation of the governor’s suspension.”
“The suspension of WGIs must be enforced until the governor determines and announces otherwise,” he said.
The continued suspension of within-grade increases applies to all Executive Branch departments, their subordinate activities, and all other activities that OPM services.
OPM’s Pangelinan added that approval of within-grade increases by the governor’s office, Office of Management and Budget, or the Department of Finance “does not override the governor’s determination.”
In previous years, some lawmakers attempted to fund within-grade increases but the bills either failed to reach the governor’s desk or if they did, they were vetoed.
The Civil Service Commission, during its first meeting in 2014, noted the need to review personnel issues as the frozen annual within-grade increase and promotional increase programs and other matters within the Personnel Service Systems Rules and Regulations, among other things.