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Frequently Asked Questions Senior Executive Service

  • The pay freeze will be in effect during the period beginning on January 1, 2011, and ending on December 31, 2013 (see Compensation Policy Memorandum 2013-05).
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  • Such pay increases are precluded by the pay freeze. Under section 147(c) of the Continuing Appropriations and Surface Transportation Act, basic pay adjustments that would otherwise be granted by an authorized agency official based upon performance during the most recently completed appraisal period are restricted because this basis does not meet the criteria in that section for the exception to the pay freeze.
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  • In January of 2011, 2012, and 2013, these pay adjustments will be precluded by the pay freeze. Under 5 U.S.C. 5376(b)(2) and 5 CFR 534.504, the agency head is required to adjust the rate of pay for SL/ST positions by such amount as the agency head considers appropriate in January of each year at the same time an adjustment is made in the General Schedule. However, section 147(c) of the Continuing Appropriations and Surface Transportation Act applies the pay freeze “notwithstanding any other provision of law” and restricts any senior professional employee from receiving an increase in his or her rate of basic pay during the designated period (which has been extended until December 31, 2013). The Act also includes the criteria for an exception in that section - i.e., an increase based on "a change of position that results in a substantial increase in responsibility, or a promotion." An agency may not grant any pay increase during the pay freeze, including an annual pay adjustment otherwise required by 5 U.S.C. 5376(b)(2), unless the increase meets the stated criteria for this exception.
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  • No, the pay freeze does not apply to these awards.
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  • Since the rate range is not increasing, an SES member's rate will not fall below the range minimum as a result of a range adjustment.
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  • No. An agency may involuntarily reduce a senior professional's rate of basic pay under 5 CFR part 752, subpart D. The pay freeze only addresses and prevents increases in pay, not pay reductions. However, an agency should take the duration of the pay freeze into account when assessing the appropriate reduction for a senior professional. Under 5 CFR 534.503(c), a senior professional whose pay is reduced but who resolves any problems and demonstrates stronger performance has the opportunity for a pay increase after 12 months, but the pay freeze can impose a significantly longer waiting period. For example, a pay reduction done during the period of the pay freeze is fixed until the end of the pay freeze-absent a change of position that meets the criteria in section 147(c) of the Act for an exception.
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  • No. An agency may involuntarily reduce a career senior executive's rate of basic pay under 5 CFR 534.404(j) for performance or disciplinary reasons subject to restrictions on reducing the pay of senior executives in 5 CFR 534.404(b) and 534.404(c) or on setting pay below the minimum rate of the SES rate range in 5 CFR 534.403(a). However, an agency should take the duration of the pay freeze into account when assessing the appropriate reduction for a senior executive. Under 5 CFR 534.404(c), a senior executive whose pay is reduced but who resolves any problems and demonstrates stronger performance has the opportunity for a pay increase after 12 months, but the pay freeze can impose a significantly longer waiting period. For example, a pay reduction done during the period of the pay freeze is fixed until the end of the pay freeze-absent a change of position that meets the criteria in section 147(c) of the Act for an exception.
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  • Under section 147(c) of the Act, an agency may grant a basic pay increase to an SES member who transfers from another agency only if the change of position results in a substantial increase in responsibility and consistent with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. Once granted, the pay adjustment would initiate a 12-month restriction. The agency determines 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 set pay and must ensure verification and objective comparison of the positions' relative responsibilities.
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  • An agency may grant a basic pay increase to a senior professional upon voluntary or involuntary reassignment only if the increase is based on a position change resulting in a substantial increase in responsibility, consistent with applicable statutory and regulatory requirements. For example, such a pay adjustment would be subject to the 12-month restriction at 5 CFR 534.503(c). Therefore, an agency may not grant such a pay adjustment within 12 months of the senior professional's most recent basic pay increase. An agency may still determine whether a pay increase is justified under section 147(c) of the Continuing Appropriations and Surface Transportation Act through 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. If at the time of the reassignment the agency documents the basis for the exception under the criteria in section 147(c) of the Act, and specifies the pay adjustment that was prevented by the 12-month restriction, then the agency may properly grant the basic pay increase when the 12-month period expires.
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  • Yes. For purposes of pay and benefits, a senior executive on detail continues to encumber the position from which he or she is detailed. Agencies may not grant a pay increase to an SES member detailed to another position because no change of position has occurred for purposes of pay and benefits. The same is true of an SES member assigned to "act" in a position of substantially greater responsibility rather than reassigned to that position.
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