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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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Federal Pay
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General Schedule Pay
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Most Federal employees fall under the "General Schedule" or "GS" pay scale. The General Schedule is the pay scale for professional or "white collar" employees, and is comprised of 15 "grades." The lowest grade is 1, and the highest is 15. Each grade has 10 "steps." Employees advance from one grade to another as they are promoted and their responsibilities increase. Employees move to higher steps within their grade based on the length of their tenure and acceptable job performance. Advancement to either a higher grade or step means an increase in pay.

There are three kinds of pay schedules in the General Schedule-the regular, nationwide pay schedule; locality pay schedules that supplement the regular pay schedule; and special salary rate schedules.

  • Nationwide Pay Schedule - The nationwide pay schedule (also called base pay schedule) is used for all GS positions except those covered by a special salary rate schedule. The nationwide pay schedule is supplemented by locality pay schedules.

    You can view the Nationwide Pay Schedule (Base Pay) at: http://www.opm.gov/oca/09tables/html/gs.asp

  • Locality Pay Schedules - In certain geographic areas employees receive a locality adjustment tied to local labor markets. The locality adjustment is intended to reduce the differential between non-Federal and Federal pay.

    You can view definitions of the Locality Pay Areas at: http://opm.gov/oca/09tables/locdef.asp

    You can view the Locality Pay Tables at: http://opm.gov/oca/09tables/indexGS.asp

  • Special Salary Rate Schedules - Special salary rate schedules (also called special rates) may be established when the government is having significant problems with recruiting and retaining well-qualified employees.

    You can view the Special Salary Rate Schedules at: http://apps.opm.gov/ssr/Tables/index.cfm

  • Senior Executive Service
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    The Senior Executive Service (SES) includes most managerial, supervisory, and policy positions classified above General Schedule grade 15 or equivalent positions in the Executive Branch of the Federal Government. 

    You can view the SES Pay Schedules at: http://www.opm.gov/oca/09tables/indexSES.asp

    Federal Wage System
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    The Federal Wage System covers federal "blue collar" workers. The system was developed to make the pay of these workers comparable to prevailing private sector rates in each local wage area.

    You can view the Federal Wage Schedules at: http://www.cpms.osd.mil/wage/


    Last Modified: 1/6/2009
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