Special salary rates may be authorized by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) whenever OPM finds that the Government's hiring or retention efforts are, or are likely to become, significantly handicapped due to factors such as the higher rates of pay being offered by non-Federal employers, the remoteness of a duty location, or the nature of the work or undesirable working conditions (i.e., exposure to occupational or health hazards).
Special rates may be established for specific occupations, grades, and locations. The agency initiating the request must submit complete supporting data through its headquarters to OPM. The data must include a survey of prevailing non-Federal pay rates in the relevant labor market. The highest rate at which the minimum rate of a special rate schedule may be set is 30 percent above the maximum rate of a grade. The pay limitation on special rates is level IV of the Executive Schedule, same as the pay limitation on locality rates.
Special rates generally are basic pay for the same purposes as locality rates. An employee is entitled to the higher of a special rate or locality rate of pay, or other applicable pay entitlement. Like a locality rate, a special rate consists of a base rate and a supplement.