The Office of Personnel Management approved a 1 percent increase in its special pay rates for 2017, following President Barack Obama's 2.1 pay bump for General Schedule employees.

Acting OPM Director Beth Cobert announced the adjustment in a Dec. 27 memo, outlining the agency's annual review of the special pay rates.

The rates are based on locality and other specific pay grades that are adjusted to higher levels for federal jobs with a history of recruitment and retention difficulties and are governed by Title 5 federal statutes.

"Based on the 2016 annual review of [General Schedule] special rates, I have approved a 1 percent increase for all Title 5 special rate tables equal to the 1 percent increase in GS base rates," she said.

"Both the increased GS base rates and the increased GS special rates will be effective on the first day of the first applicable pay period beginning on or after Jan. 1, 2017."

General Schedule employees had anticipated getting a 1.6 percent pay raise for 2017, but Obama decided on Dec. 8 to use an alternative funding plan underTitle 5, allowing him to increase locality pay to 1.1 percent, combined with a 1 percent base rate hike, for a 2.1 percent overall raise for federal employees.

The special rates are increased at the same level as General Schedule raises, in this case, 1 percent, barring an agency request for an alternate rate. Cobert said that no agency had requested such an accommodation. The move is set to impact some 40,000 federal employees.

OPM said that it would eliminate 16 special rate tables on Jan. 8 since locality pay rates now exceeded each governed grade.

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