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HR Order DOJ 1200.1: Part 2. Compensation: Chapter 2-2, Highest Previous Rate (August 25, 1998)

A.   References.

Statute 5 U.S.C. 5334

5 U.S.C. 5343 (c)(5)

Code of Federal Regulations 5 CFR Part 531, Subpart B
(5 CFR 531.202, 203(c), and 203(d))

5 CFR 532.401

5 CFR 532.405

Key terms

Appointing officer

Highest previous rate

Maximum payable rate

B.   Policy.

  1. General. Consistent with the provisions of this order, and except as provided in paragraph B.2., appointing officers may set the salary rate of a GS or prevailing rate employee at a level above the minimum established by law or regulation. Note:   The highest previous rate may be based on a regular tour of duty at any rate of basic pay received by an individual while serving under an appointment not limited to 90 days or less, or for a continuous period of not less than 90 days under one or more appointments without a break in service, except as otherwise provided in 5 CFR 531.203(d).
  2. Voluntary Reassignments Within the Department. For voluntary reassignments of eligible employees between positions in the Department, the authority in 5 CFR 531.203(d)(2)(vii) to use a special salary rate established under 5 U.S.C. 5305 as the highest previous rate is redelegated to the gaining Bureau Head. This authority may be redelegated within the bureau to a designated official who occupies a position which is organizationally no lower than the position of the Bureau Personnel Officer.

    Note: This authority may NOT be used to set the pay of an employee transferring from another Federal Agency.

  3. Change to Lower Grade at Employee's Request.   When an employee is demoted or changed to a lower grade at his or her own request for his or her own personal benefit or convenience (e.g., to acquire competitive status or a desired duty station), with the probability of promotion as soon as possible under merit promotion rules, any windfall that could occur when the employee is promoted must be taken into consideration when setting the employee's pay at a rate in the lower grade. For purposes of this policy, unless one of the conditions for pay retention under 5 CFR 536.104 is satisfied, application under merit promotion procedures for a lower grade position constitutes a request for change to lower grade for the employee's personal benefit or convenience.

C.   Documentation and Reporting.

Whenever it is determined, as a matter of discretion, that an employee should not be given the benefit of the highest previous rate, a brief statement setting forth the reasons for the determination must be prepared and filed on the right side of the OPF.

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Updated May 7, 2021