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U.S. Office of Personnel Management - Ensuring the Federal Government has an effective civilian workforce

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Federal Wage System

The Federal Wage System (FWS) is a uniform pay-setting system that covers Federal appropriated fund and nonappropriated fund blue-collar employees who are paid by the hour.  The system's goal is to make sure that Federal trade, craft, and laboring employees within a local wage area who perform the same duties receive the same rate of pay.  The FWS includes 132 appropriated fund and 125 nonappropriated fund local wage areas.  Successful labor-management partnership is the hallmark of the FWS, with labor organizations involved in all phases of administering the pay system.

Under this uniform pay system –

  • Your pay will be the same as the pay of other Federal jobs like yours in your wage area, and

  • Your pay will be in line with pay for private sector jobs like yours in your wage area.

Pay Limitation

On December 18, 2008, OPM issued Compensation Policy Memorandum 2008-23 to notify agencies that the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2008 (Public Law 110-161, December 26, 2007) (the fiscal year 2008 Act), contains two provisions that affect the determination of pay adjustments for certain prevailing rate (wage) employees. The Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance, and Continuing Appropriations Act, 2009 (Public Law 110-329, September 30, 2008) (the FY 2009 Act), contains the floor pay adjustment provision under section 142 and extends into FY 2009 the pay limitation provision of section 712 of the FY 2008 Act.

Operating Manuals

The FWS Appropriated Fund and Nonappropriated Fund Operating Manuals are available in HTML and Adobe Acrobat formats. Select the manual you need below. The FWS Operating Manuals contain information about the history of the FWS program, how wage surveys are conducted, setting pay for FWS employees, premium pay guidelines, special rates and schedules, and set-aside schedules. The FWS Operating Manuals are useful tools for personnel specialists and FWS employees.

For more information on the Federal Wage System, call (202) 606-2848; FAX:  (202) 606-4264; or email