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CPM 2008-24
Office of the Director
United States
Office of Personnel Management
Washington, DC 20415-1000


Michael W. Hager
Acting Director

2008 Annual Review of Special Rates

The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has completed the 2008 annual review of existing special rates authorized under 5 U.S.C. 5305.  As a result, we will increase 229 special rate schedules in tandem with the 2.9 percent across-the-board General Schedule (GS) base pay increase effective on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or after January 1, 2009 (January 4, 2009).  The 229 special rate schedules cover approximately 33,500 employees.  To view the 2009 special rate schedules or to find an individual special rate schedule by occupation and agency, please use OPM’s Web application located at .

2008 Annual Review of Special Rates

The 2008 annual review of special rates, which OPM conducted under 5 CFR 530.307, determined the amounts by which special rate schedules will be adjusted in January 2009.  In conducting the annual review, we relied on the reviews conducted by agencies employing special rate employees.  (See Memorandum for Chief Human Capital Officers, July 2, 2008, at .)  Schedule adjustments result in a corresponding adjustment in each employee’s special rate, as provided by 5 CFR 530.321-322.

Terminated Special Rate Schedules and Special Rates

Under 5 U.S.C. 5305(h), an employee’s entitlement to a special rate ends if the employee is entitled to a higher rate of basic pay, such as a locality rate under 5 U.S.C. 5304.  In 2009, pay rates on the GS locality pay tables will increase by 3.35 to 4.78 percent (depending on location and subject to the applicable locality pay cap), while special rates will increase by 2.9 percent.  As a result, certain special rate schedules will terminate effective January 4, 2009, because higher locality rates apply at all steps of each covered grade. 

In addition, certain special rates will terminate where the 2009 locality rates are higher at certain or all steps of a grade.  In some special rate schedules that cover multiple geographic areas or locality pay areas, certain geographic areas will be removed from coverage because the locality rates in those areas are higher than the special rates at all grades and steps.  The termination of special rates in these situations will not result in a loss of pay for any covered employees because all affected employees will continue to receive the higher locality rate to which they are entitled.

We also will terminate certain other special rate schedules effective January 4, 2009, covering zero employees (i.e., zero population special rate schedules) based on agency input during the special rate annual review.  Please notify OPM by February 27, 2009, at if your agency finds that a terminated zero population special rate schedule should be restored because conditions have changed since providing input for the annual review (e.g., your agency now has employees covered by the terminated schedule).  

Attachment 1 lists the 67 special rate schedules that have been terminated because higher locality rates apply at all steps of each covered grade or the special rate schedules cover zero employees.

Replacement of Worldwide and Nationwide Special Rate Schedules

OPM has split each nationwide and worldwide special rate schedule into multiple special rate schedules with more specific geographic coverage.  We have divided each nationwide and worldwide special rate schedule into (1) a schedule covering the 48 contiguous States and the District of Columbia, (2) schedules covering certain nonforeign areas, and, for worldwide schedules, (3) a schedule covering all foreign areas.  These changes allow OPM and agencies to use the special rate program to respond to staffing and labor market situations on a more localized basis.  Attachment 2 provides a list of the new special rate schedules that will replace each nationwide and worldwide schedule effective January 4, 2009.  (Note that we are establishing replacement schedules only in those nonforeign areas which had employees covered by the nationwide and worldwide schedules as of June 2008.  Please notify OPM by February 27, 2009, at if your agency finds it needs a special rate schedule to replace a nationwide or worldwide schedule for a nonforeign area not listed in Attachment 2 .) 

Capped Special Rates

Under 5 U.S.C. 5305(a)(1), the maximum special rate is the rate payable for level IV of the Executive Schedule ($153,200 in 2009).  As a result, effective in 2009, the payable special rates at the higher steps of grade GS-15 are capped at $153,200 on special rate schedules 565 (steps 8, 9, and 10) and 566 (steps 9 and 10) for Department of Defense air traffic controllers and 576 (steps 7, 8, 9, and 10) for selected Patent and Trademark Office employees involved in patent examination.

Additional Information

For additional information, agency Chief Human Capital Officers and/or Human Resources Directors should contact their assigned OPM Human Capital Officer.  Employees should contact their agency human resources offices for assistance.

Thank you for your cooperation and assistance in conducting the 2008 annual review of special rates.

cc:           Chief Human Capital Officers

                Human Resources Directors

Attachment 1: Terminated Special Rate Schedules

Attachment 2: Replacement of Worldwide and Nationwide Special Rate Schedules Our Mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a
World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People
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