Human Resources and Security Specialists should use this tool to determine the correct investigation level for any covered position within the U.S. Federal Government.
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A QSI is a faster-than-normal WGI used to reward employees at any GS grade level who display high quality performance. To be eligible for a QSI, employees must:
A QSI does not affect the timing of an employee's next regular WGI unless the QSI places the employee in step 4 or step 7 of his or her grade. In these cases, the employee becomes subject to the full waiting period for the new step--i.e., 104 weeks or 156 weeks, respectively--and the time an employee has already waited counts towards the next increase. The employee receives the full benefit of receiving a WGI at an earlier date and has not lost any time creditable towards his or her next WGI.
See 5 U.S.C. 5336, 5 CFR part 531, subpart E, and http://www.opm.gov/perform/articles/1999/apr99-7.asp for additional information on QSIs.
Within-grade increases (WGIs) or step increases are periodic increases in a General Schedule (GS) employee's rate of basic pay from one step of the grade of his or her position to the next higher step of that grade. For WGI purposes, an employee's rate of basic pay is the rate of pay fixed by law or administrative action for the position held by the employee before any deductions and exclusive of additional pay of any kind.
(Note: Employees designated as "GM" whose rate of basic pay is less than the maximum rate of their grade also may receive WGIs. See 5 CFR part 531, subpart D, for additional information.)
See the fact sheet on General Schedule Within-Grade Increases for the required waiting periods for advancement to the next higher step of a GS grade for employees with a scheduled tour of duty. (See 5 CFR 531.405(a)(2) for the required waiting periods for employees without a scheduled tour of duty.)
A WGI waiting period begins upon (1) first appointment in the Federal service, (2) receiving an "equivalent increase," or (3) after a period of nonpay status and/or a break in service in excess of 52 calendar weeks.
Fact sheet available at http://www.opm.gov/oca/pay/html/wgifact.asp
An "equivalent increase" is considered to occur at the time of any of the following personnel actions:
Note: For example, in 2009 a GS-13, step 3, employee ($75,323 GS rate) accepts a voluntary demotion to a GS-12 position. The agency sets her pay using the maximum payable rate rule at GS-12, step 10 ($77,194 GS rate). The increase in pay is not an equivalent increase because the employee's pay was set at the lowest step that exceeded her rate of basic pay before promotion.
For information on equivalent increases for non-GS employees who move to the GS pay system, see Q10, which includes an example for an employee moving to the GS pay system from the Department of Defense (DoD) National Security Personnel System (NSPS).
For an employee who performs service under a non-GS Federal pay system which is potentially creditable towards a within-grade increase waiting period, an equivalent increase is considered to occur at the time of any of the following personnel actions in the non-GS pay system:
A non-GS pay system is one that does not meet the definition of "General Schedule" or "GS" in 5 CFR 531.403. The personnel actions above must have occurred within the same pay system. That is, even if an employee receives an increase in pay moving between pay systems, that "promotion" or other pay increase is not considered an equivalent increase. See Note 1.
For example, the DoD NSPS pay system is a non-GS pay system. The following NSPS pay events would be considered equivalent increases under 5 CFR 531.407(b):
Note 1: OPM has a general policy that a pay increase resulting from a change in pay system does not count as an equivalent increase. However, the NSPS WGI adjustment and WGI adjustment equivalent are pay adjustments made under the NSPS system after conversion or placement (although effective on the same date). Under the NSPS regulations, employees are converted with no change in pay. The WGI adjustment under 5 CFR 9901.371(j) is a mandatory adjustment following that conversion. The WGI adjustment equivalent under 5 CFR 9901.351(c)(1) also is a mandatory adjustment, and the WGI adjustment equivalent under 5 CFR 9901(c)(2) is a discretionary adjustment, both made following placement in an NSPS position.
Note 2: To the extent that DoD establishes any control point that serves as a maximum rate for all positions within a defined subcategory within a band based on labor market factors (without regard to performance rating), a pay increase denied solely because of such control point would not be considered to be an opportunity for an increase and thus would not be considered to be an equivalent increase.
Note 3: Consistent with 5 CFR 531.407(c), a local market supplement adjustment under NSPS would not be considered an equivalent increase. Also, an adjustment resulting from being placed in a subcategory of positions to which a higher supplement applies would not be an equivalent increase.
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