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News Release

Friday, August 06, 2004
Contact: Michael Orenstein
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Associate Director Briefs Key Stakeholders on Pay-for-Performance Rules for the SES and Senior Professionals

Director Kay Coles James says with the rules, "the federal government has significantly strengthened its commitment to excellence and results..."

Washington, D.C. -- The U.S. Office of Personnel Management conducted a briefing on regulations that create a results-oriented, performance appraisal structure for senior executives in the federal government and reward the best-performing executives with higher salaries.

The advancement of the Senior Executive Service (SES) to a pay-for-performance compensation program fulfills a key component of President George W. Bush's Management Agenda. Members of the SES and senior professionals manage the federal government's most important programs in national security, defense, agriculture and medicine.

OPM Director Kay Coles James said: "President Bush's Management Agenda is about achieving real and measurable results on behalf of the American people, and these new rules mark substantial progress and accountability on their behalf." James added that "with pay levels and pay adjustments for thousands of executives now determined by the evaluations they earn under appraisal systems that make ‘meaningful distinctions' in performance, the federal government has significantly reinforced its time-honored tradition of delivering excellence, services and results to the American people."

At the briefing, Ron Sanders, OPM's Associate Director for Strategic Human Resources Policy, told representatives from more than a dozen organizations representing federal executives, including the National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives and Senior Executives Association, that the rule changes will reward the best-performing executives and professionals, and help the government retain a superior work force.

The interim final regulation on executive performance were published in the Federal Register on July 29 and prescribes nine specific criteria agencies must meet to obtain OPM's and the Office of Management and Budget's certification of performance appraisal systems for the SES and senior professionals.

Also reviewed at the recent briefing were OPM's proposed regulations on SES pay and performance awards, which prescribe rules for setting and adjusting basic pay for senior executives and for applying the higher aggregate limitation on pay for senior executives and senior professionals. Sanders thanked the executive groups for their extensive and thoughtful input.

When issued later this year, the final regulations will allow an agency possessing an OPM-/OMB-certified performance appraisal system to set basic pay up to level II of the Executive Schedule (currently $158,100) for the best-performing senior executives. In addition, the final rules will allow agencies with certified systems to apply a higher aggregate limitation on pay in a calendar year, up to the rate of pay for the Vice President (currently $203,000), for senior executives and senior professionals.

Those executive groups represented were:

o Blacks in Government

o Executive Women in Government

o Federal Managers Association

o National Association of Public Administration

o National Association of Hispanic Federal Executives

o Partnership for Public Service

o Senior Executives Association

o Court Services and Offender Supervisory Agency

o American Foreign Service Association

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OPM leads and serves the Federal Government in enterprise human resources management by delivering policies and services to achieve a trusted, effective civilian workforce. By Empowering Excellence in Government through Great People, we provide leadership and support to U.S. agencies on issues including human resources policy and oversight, background investigations, federal employee benefits, retirement services, guidance on labor-management relations, and programs to improve workforce performance. For more information, visit or follow OPM on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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