What pay systems cover senior positions?
The largest is the Senior Executive Service (SES), a cadre of high-level supervisors (some are politically appointed). The SES pay system features a pay range with a minimum rate of basic pay starting at 120 percent of the rate for grade 15, step 1, of the base General Schedule, and ranging pay up to Level II of the Executive Schedule (Level III if the agency’s performance evaluation system does not meet certain standards). SES members do not receive annual across-the-board or locality pay adjustments. Pay adjustments for SES members must be based on the employee’s individual performance and/or contribution to the agency’s performance.

Senior Level or Senior Scientific and Professional systems, generically called senior professional positions, are at roughly the same level as the SES but involve either no or only limited supervisory responsibilities. Pay is set within a range in the same way as for the SES, and increases similarly are performance-based. The SES and SL/ST pay systems are nationwide; rates do not vary by locality.

Administrative law judges are paid under a three-level system whose lowest level in turn is divided into six rates, A-F. The minimum rate for ALJ positions is 65 percent of Level IV of the Executive Schedule, and the maximum is Level III. Because ALJs receive annual locality-based raises equivalent to those paid under the General Schedule, pay varies by locality. A similar system applies to administrative appeals judges, who review decisions by ALJs.
There are also some separate systems unique to certain occupations or agencies.

2020 Digital Almanac

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