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Frequently Asked Questions Senior Executive Service

  • The pay freeze precludes such increases because they do not meet the criteria for the exception in section 147(c) of the Act. Additionally, the underlying pay rates that determine the SES rate range will remain unchanged until the pay freeze ends - i.e., 120 percent of the minimum rate of basic pay payable for GS-15 of the General Schedule and the rates of basic pay for level III and level II of the Executive Schedule. Since the SES pay rate range will not change, agencies will not need to adjust a senior executive's rate of basic pay to maintain his or her relative position within the rate range.
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  • No, the pay freeze does not apply to these awards.  However, agencies should be cognizant of the current political and economic environment and how it may affect their awards programs.
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  • Yes. The pay freeze legislation does not affect performance appraisal requirements or restrict performance awards.
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  • To meet the certification criteria, agencies are expected to make distinctions in rates of pay, pay increases, and/or performance awards. The Act only freezes pay adjustments, and does not affect the agency's ability to grant performance awards to career executives. Therefore, agencies can make the pay distinctions required for performance appraisal system certification in their bonus decisions. OPM is aware the Act prohibits agencies from making pay increases and would consider this in applying the certification criteria.
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  • Under section 147(c) of the Act, an agency may grant a basic pay increase to an SES member upon voluntary or involuntary reassignment only if the change of position results in a substantial increase in responsibility and consistent with any other applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. For example, such a pay increase would be subject to the 12-month restriction at 5 CFR 534.404(c). Therefore, when such an increase is granted within 12 months of the senior executive's most recent pay increase, it would require an exception under 5 CFR 534.404(c)(4)(ii) in addition to the exception under section 147(c) of the Act. Once granted, the pay adjustment would initiate a new 12-month restriction. If more than 12 months have passed since the senior executive's last basic pay adjustment, the agency may determine whether a pay increase is justified under section 147(c) under such procedures as the agency head may establish. The procedures should include, as appropriate, review by an official at a higher level than the agency official otherwise authorized to take the pay action and must ensure verification and objective comparison of the positions' relative responsibilities.
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  • Yes. For purposes of pay and benefits, a senior professional on detail continues to encumber the position from which he or she is detailed. Agencies may not grant a pay increase to a senior professional detailed to another position because no position change has occurred for purposes of pay and benefits. The same is true of a senior professional assigned to "act" in a position of substantially greater responsibility rather than reassigned to that position.
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  • Public Law prohibits statutory pay adjustments for most federal civilian employees as well as basic pay increases for employees in senior executive (SES), senior level (SL) and scientific or professional (ST) and equivalent positions, except as permitted in rare instances under specific circumstances (see Section 147 of the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2011 (Pub. L. 111-242, September 30, 2010), as amended by section 1(a) of the Continuing Appropriations and Surface Transportation Extensions Act, 2011 (Pub. L. 111-322, December 22, 2010) and section 1112 of the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (Pub. L. 113-6, March 26, 2013) and Attachment 1 of Compensation Policy Memorandum 2010-24).
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