Superior Qualifications Appointments

In conjunction with the cited policies, the following guidelines provide information for using the discretionary authority in title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.), section 5333, and 5 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), part 531.212, to set the rate of basic pay, including locality or special rate, of a newly appointed employee at a rate above the minimum rate of a General Schedule (GS) grade because of the candidate's superior qualifications or a special need for the candidate's services. These are commonly referred to as advanced in-hire rates.

Authority to approve advanced in-hire-rates is delegated through the Components and command channels to officals who exercise personnel appointing authority (DoDI 1400.25, V531). Each determination must be in writing and should be reviewed by the appropriate Civilian Personnel Advisory Center for compliance with related policies. Each determination must be reviewed and approved by an official at a level above the employee's supervisor prior to the employee entering on duty.

This discretionary authority applies to employees appointed to any GS position, including permanent and temporary positions in the competitive or excepted service, upon first appointment as a Civilian employee of the Federal Government or reappointment to a GS position after a 90-day break in service. Exceptions to the break-in-service rule include time limited or non-permanent appointments, employment in a work-study program, employment as an expert or consultant, and provisional appointments.

Employees moving from a non-appropriated fund (NAF) position to a GS position with a break in service of 3 days or less and without a change in agency are not eligible to have pay set under the advanced in-hire rate authority. Otherwise, NAF employment does not block application of this authority.

Approving officials must first consider the possibility of a recruitment incentive under 5 CFR part 575, subpart A, in determining whether to use the advanced in-hire rate authority and in setting the higher rate of basic pay.

As each applies to the case at hand, the following factors, as well as other relevant factors, may be considered in determining the appropriate step at which to set the rate of basic pay.

  • Candidate's level, type, or quality of skills or competencies.

  • Candidate's existing salary, recent salary history, or salary documented in a competing job offer, taking into account the location where the salary is, was, or would be earned, compared to rates payable (including locality or special rates) in the same location.

    The monetary value of housing and subsistence benefits may be considered part of a military member's existing pay, or a separated member's recent salary history, for the purposes of a superior qualifications appointment.

    The candidate's existing or recent salary history is a factor considered in determining the step at which to set the employee's pay only after a determination is made that the candidate meets the superior qualifications or special agency need criteria and after considering the possibility of using a recruitment incentive. Special care must be exercised to not use the authority solely to match any candidate's earnings outside the Federal civilian sector.

  • Significant differences in the Federal and non-Federal salaries for the skills and competencies required in the position to be filled.

  • Labor market conditions and employment trends, including recent turnover and the availability and the quality of candidates based on recent efforts to recruit individuals for the same or similar positions.

  • Importance/criticality of the position to be filled and the effect on the agency or mission if the position is not filled or there is a delay filling it.

  • Desirability of the geographic location, duties, and/or work environment associated with the position.

  • Workforce needs, as documented in the agency strategic human capital plan.

Approving officials must document each determination sufficiently to allow the reconstruction of the action taken, including a description of the:

  • Candidate's superior qualifications or the special agency needs for the candidate's services that justify a higher than minimum rate.

    Officials may determine that a candidate has superior qualifications based on the type, level, or quality of the individual's skills or competencies demonstrated or obtained through experience and/or education, or the quality of accomplishments compared to others in the field.

    The candidate's skills, competencies, experience, education, and/or accomplishments must be relevant to the requirements of the position to be filled. The qualities must be unusually high, and/or unique or more specialized.

    Officials may determine that a candidate fills a special agency need if the type, level, or quality of skills or competencies, or other qualities and experiences possessed by the candidate are relevant to the requirements of the position and are essential to accomplishing an important agency mission, goal, or program activity, or the candidate meets workforce needs documented in the agency's strategic human capital plan.

    A special need situation will ordinarily occur in a position involving direct program management or operation, rather than in a position providing administrative support. The special need may relate to an entire agency or a major activity within the agency. It may exist in a particular project of the agency if that project is part of the agency or activity's basic mission.

  • Factors used in the pay rate determination, including how these specifically relate to the rate approved.

  • Reasons for using the higher pay rate instead of, or in addition to, a recruitment incentive.
  • Written approval of the advanced in-hire rate is filed permanently in the employee's official personnel folder. All supporting documentation, including the verification of existing pay, competing job offers, or salary history, should be retained by the approving official for the period of three years.

    Comparable authority exists to set advanced in-hire rates for Federal Wage System (FWS) employees. The rules governing these appointments are contained in the Office of Personnel Management's Operating Manual for the FWS.

    Content last reviewed: 6/8/2006-SWL

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    This page was last revised: 7/14/2011