SES pay scale kicks in

Memo on SES paybanding

High-level federal employees who are paid as part of the Senior Executive Service got a rude awakening Jan. 1: Their pay scale had changed and so had their geographic differentials.

The Office of Personnel Management issued interim regulations setting up a pay-for-performance system for the SES, replacing a six-tier system with an open-range pay band for compensation. The new pay scale went into effect for nearly 6,000 executive-level employees, linking their pay to

performance.

On one hand, the new system allows a higher annual maximum rate for basic pay. However, SES employees now will be judged on their performance and their contribution to an agency's overall performance to get a raise. Under the new rules, the current pay and locality differential were converted into the new system.

"In assessing an individual's performance and/or contribution to the agency's performance, the agency may consider such things as unique skills, qualifications or competencies that the individual possesses and their significance to the agency's mission," a memo from Office of Personnel Management officials said.

The SES was established in 1979 to bring executives into government and pay them wages competitive with the private sector. But the Bush administration has been backing a new way of paying many federal workers that eliminates automatic, across-the-board pay raises and links raises to performance.

According to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal 2004, the bottom of the SES pay scale may not be less than $103,700, and the maximum basic pay may not exceed $144,600, or $154,700 for the highest-ranked SES executives.

"The new system assures a clear and direct linkage between SES performance and pay, a cornerstone of the President's Management Agenda," said OPM Director Kay Coles James.

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