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No, agencies are no longer required to consider using the superior qualifications and special needs pay-setting authority before they authorize a recruitment incentive. However, under 5 CFR 531.212(d) (as in effect on and after May 1, 2005), an agency must consider the possibility of authorizing a recruitment incentive when determining whether to use the superior qualifications and special needs pay-setting authority. The reason for the distinction is that agencies should first consider whether they can attract a candidate by using an authority which has limited implications for the agency budget because it does not increase the employee’s basic pay (e.g., a recruitment incentive) before using a flexibility that increases basic pay (e.g., the superior qualifications and special needs pay-setting authority) which has longer term cost implications.
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