The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) is calling on Federal agencies to send in their requests for special salary rates (SSRs) for typically hard-to-fill positions by Oct. 13.

OPM is setting this deadline ahead of President Biden’s pending 5.2 percent pay raise for Federal civilian employees, which would take effect in January. Under the president’s plan, the across-the-board base pay raise will be 4.7 percent and locality pay increases will average 0.5 percent, resulting in an overall average increase of 5.2 percent.

However, if agencies want a special rate adjustment in January 2024 that is different from President Biden’s proposed pay raise, they will need to let OPM know within the next few weeks.

“All requests for special rate adjustments greater than the January 2024 [General Schedule] base pay adjustment must address the existing or likely significant recruitment or retention difficulties justifying the proposed increase,” OPM Director Kiran Ahuja said in a memo last week to agency chief human capital officers.

“The cost of using these flexibilities should be weighed against the benefits to be gained in supporting agency mission and program needs,” she added.

Notably, OPM approved an SSR for the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in January of this year to increase the basic bay for thousands of its IT and cybersecurity employees. However, the VA officially launched the SSR in July under its new PACT Act authority.

The VA was the first government agency to roll out the new pay model, which has elevated the salaries of nearly 99 percent of the VA’s tech and cybersecurity team by an average of 17 percent.

Other government agencies have looked to implement similar pay raises, including the Department of Defense (DoD).

In May, the DoD approved a pay raise for STEM and cyber positions within its intelligence components, such as the National Security Agency (NSA), Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA).

Nevertheless, any agencies looking to implement their own SSR in January must reply to OPM’s data call. OPM also reminded agencies that the Oct. 13 deadline only applies for adjustments agencies would like to take effect in January, and agencies can submit SSR requests at any time throughout a calendar year.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.