Secretary of Energy Steven Chu announced late last week a two-year pay freeze for the more than 75,000 contractors who work for the Department of Energy.
The move follows President Barack Obama’s proposed two-year pay freeze for federal civilian workers.
Chu said it’s now time for contractors to begin making a sacrifice as well.
“As our nation continues to recover from these challenging economic times, households and small businesses across the country are making sacrifices,” he said. “In this spirit, we are asking our contractor employees, who are doing important research, operations and environmental cleanup work, to join the federal workforce in playing a part.”
The freeze, which takes effect Jan. 1, applies to site and facility management contractor employees, who manage day-to-day operations at DOE’s 28 facilities, including its national laboratories.
If facilities have already approved contractor pay raises, the freeze is set to take effect at the beginning of the next pay cycle and then last two years.
Still, Chu said the sacrifice in pay would not affect DOE’s mission.
“Our national labs, the country’s crown jewels for leading research and development, will continue to attract and retain the nation’s top scientists,” he said, “and pursue some of the most important discoveries that will lead us into the 21st century.”
The move is especially significant as DOE has one of the largest contractor workforces in the federal government. Its outsourced population outstrips its own staff by sizable margins, according to Government Executive.
While the freeze is almost to raise eyebrows in the government-contracting world, Gov Exec reports it’s not the first time DOE’s contractors have been put in the spotlight. The agency’s management of its contracts has been on the Government Accountability Office’s list of high-risk federal programs for 20 years.