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

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Special Rate Requests

OPM Authority

The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) may establish higher rates of basic pay—special rates—for a group or category of General Schedule (GS) positions in one or more geographic areas to address existing or likely significant handicaps in recruiting or retaining well-qualified employees. OPM may establish special rates for nearly any category of employee—i.e., by series, specialty, grade-level, and/or geographic area.


OPM may establish special rates to address staffing problems caused by—

  • significantly higher non-Federal pay rates than those payable by the Federal Government within the area, location, or occupational group involved;
  • the remoteness of the area or location involved;
  • the undesirability of the working conditions or nature of the work involved; or
  • any other circumstances OPM considers appropriate.

Additional information on establishing and adjusting special rates is contained in OPM regulations at 5 CFR 530.304.

Agency Headquarters Approval

Special rate requests must include the information required by OPM's Worksheet for Special Rate Requests, Form 1397 PDF formatted document. The requests must come to OPM through agency headquarters (list of agency headquarters contacts).


5 U.S.C 5305 and 5 CFR part 530, subpart C