(a) Effective as of the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or after January 1 of each calendar year, the rates of basic pay for each statutory pay system shall be increased by the percentage (rounded to the nearest one-tenth of 1 percent) equal to one-half of 1 percentage point less than the percentage by which the ECI for the base quarter of the year before the preceding calendar year exceeds the ECI for the base quarter of the second year before the preceding calendar year (if at all).
(1) If, because of national emergency or serious economic conditions affecting the general welfare, the President should consider the pay adjustment which would otherwise be required by subsection (a) in any year to be inappropriate, the President shall-
(A) prepare and transmit to Congress before September 1 of the preceding calendar year a plan for such alternative pay adjustments as he considers appropriate, together with the reasons therefor; and
(B) adjust the rates of pay of each statutory pay system, in accordance with such plan, effective on the same day as the increase under subsection (a) would otherwise take effect.
(2) In evaluating an economic condition affecting the general welfare under this subsection, the President shall consider pertinent economic measures including, but not limited to, the Indexes of Leading Economic Indicators, the Gross National Product, the unemployment rate, the budget deficit, the Consumer Price Index, the Producer Price Index, the Employment Cost Index, and the Implicit Price Deflator for Personal Consumption Expenditures.
(3) The President shall include in the report to Congress under paragraph (1)(A) his assessment of the impact that the alternative pay adjustments under this subsection will have on the Government's ability to recruit and retain well-qualified employees.
(c) The rates of basic pay that take effect under this section-
(1) shall modify, supersede, or render inapplicable, as the case may be, to the extent inconsistent therewith, any prior rates of basic pay under the statutory pay system involved (as last adjusted under this section or prior provisions of law); and
(2) shall be printed in the Federal Register and the Code of Federal Regulations.
(d) An increase in rates of basic pay that takes effect under this section is not an equivalent increase in pay within the meaning of section 5335.
(e) This section does not impair any authority pursuant to which rates of basic pay may be fixed by administrative action.
(f) Pay may not be paid, by reason of any provision of this section (disregarding any comparability payment payable), at a rate in excess of the rate of basic pay payable for level V of the Executive Schedule.
(g) Any rate of pay under this section shall be initially adjusted, effective on the effective date of the rate of pay, under conversion rules prescribed by the President or by such agency or agencies as the President may designate.