The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 (Public Law 108-136, November 24, 2003) established a new performance-based pay system for members of the Senior Executive Service. The SES pay range has a minimum rate of basic pay equal to 120 percent of the rate for GS-15, step 1, and the maximum rate of basic pay is equal to the rate for Level III of the Executive Schedule. However, for any agency certified under 5 U.S.C. 5307(d) as having a performance appraisal system which, as designed and applied, makes meaningful distinctions based on relative performance, the maximum rate of basic pay will be the rate for Level II of the Executive Schedule.
The President's Executive order adjusts the minimum rate of basic pay for the SES rate range to be consistent with the increase in the minimum rate of basic pay for senior-level positions under 5 U.S.C. 5376 ($114,468 in 2008). The applicable maximum rate of basic pay for the SES is $172,200 (EX-II) for SES members covered by a certified SES performance appraisal system and $158,500 (EX-III) for SES members covered by an SES performance appraisal system that has not been certified.
Agencies with certified performance appraisal systems for SES members and SL/ST positions must also apply a higher aggregate limitation on pay--up to the Vice President's salary ($221,100 in 2008). (See 5 U.S.C. 5307 and 5 CFR part 530, subpart B.)
Critical position pay up to Level I of the Executive Schedule may be authorized only in rare exceptional cases under 5 U.S.C. 5377. Critical position pay may be granted only for positions that require expertise of an extremely high level in a scientific, technical, professional, or administrative field, and are critical to the agency's accomplishment of the agency's mission, and only to the extent necessary to recruit or retain an individual exceptionally well qualified for the position.