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Pay System for Certain Senior Level Positions

The Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (FEPCA) established a pay system (5 U.S.C. 5376) for certain senior-level positions to replace GS-16, 17 and 18 of the General Schedule, which were abolished. Most executive positions at those grades had previously been placed in the Senior Executive Service (SES) under the Civil Service Reform Act (CSRA) but there were still some positions classified above GS-15 in SES agencies based upon non-executive work, as well as some executive and non-executive positions classified above GS-15 in agencies not subject to the SES. FEPCA authorized OPM to establish pay rules for these positions with a rate range from 120 percent of the rate payable for GS-15 step 1 to the rate payable for level IV of the Executive Schedule (EX-IV), supplemented by locality pay subject to a cap of EX-III.

The Senior Professional Performance Act of 2008 revised 5 U.S.C. 5376, effective April 12, 2009, so that covered senior-level employees would no longer receive locality pay but could receive a rate of basic pay up to a maximum of EX-III (with an aggregate pay limitation equal to EX-I); or, if subject to an appraisal system certified by OPM as making meaningful distinctions based upon performance, a rate of basic pay up to a maximum of EX-II (with an aggregate pay limitation equal to the Vice President’s salary). Since the revision offered higher rates of pay based on the quality of appraisal systems, OPM revised 5 CFR 534 subpart E to provide for agencies to set and adjust pay for covered employees based on individual performance, contribution to the agency’s performance, or both, as determined through administration of the agency’s performance appraisal system. Positions or employees not subject to performance appraisal, e.g., Presidential appointees, were exempt from performance-based pay rules but limited to the EX-III maximum for covered employees not subject to a certified appraisal system. 

Covered Senior-Level Positions

The pay system established under 5 U.S.C. 5376 applies to two categories of positions established under title 5:

(1) positions that are classified above GS-15 pursuant to section 5108; and

(2) scientific or professional positions established under section 3104;

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