With the House of Representatives having passed its version of the FY 2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), as well as a federal budget agreement, both of which establish new guidelines and annual ceilings on allowable government contractor executive salaries, the question is what will the Senate do with both agreements when they address those specific revised caps. Moreover, because the House-passed federal budget and the NDAA have different annual compensation caps and contractor personnel to which these caps would be applicable, will these differences be reconciled in final versions of both budget and NDAA agreement?
Several days ago, House representatives finalized its version of the NDAA and agreed to set the annual compensation which the government would be willing to reimburse under Department of Defense (DOD) contracts, which incorporate the FAR Part 31 Cost Principles, at $625,000. The ceiling would be applicable to all contractor employees (not just top five executives), except for certain classifications to be approved by agency heads, and the basis for future annual escalation adjustments would be based on the Employment Cost Index. The House approved ceiling is substantially lower than the new approved FAR compensation cap of $952,000, established by the OMB for government fiscal year 2012.
When passing its version of the FY 2014 federal budget, however, the House established a different compensation cap at $487,000, ostensibly applicable to all government and subcontractor contractor employees (civilian and DOD), with different labor skill classification exemptions that those stipulated for DOD in the NDAA. Both the NDAA and the federal budget contractor cost limitations would be applicable to government contracts awarded 180 days after both agreements become law.
Assuming that the Senate was to approve both House agreements, with different allowable government contractor employee ceilings an employees to which ceilings are applicable, the legislators have two choices to consider in marrying the two different ceilings and the contractor people to which they would apply: do nothing, leave it to the intuitive thinking of procurement agencies (or the FAR councils) on how to administer two separate compensation caps applicable to the same contractors/contracts, which would undoubtedly turn into a major disaster story for affected contractors, or; compromise and agree to a single cap for both federal budget and NDAA administration purposes, which we believe will occur when the Senate takes up debate on the House bills.
Notwithstanding the House approved bills, the Senate has yet to make up its mind on reasonable employee annual allowable compensation that can be passed on by contractors through cost based government contracts and be shared in by the government. More conservative contractor compensation ceiling proposals pontificated by Senate members are still alive, such as lower annual caps at $400,000 (President’s salary), and $230,700 (Vice-President’s salary).
Beware government contractors: whatever happens, a likely outcome of approved an signed budget and NDAA agreements will be ceilings and subsequent annual increases lower than the current $952,000 annual cap for FY 2012 and beyond and the basis on which escalation adjustments are calculated at this time.