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This Directive was canceled March 10, 2010.

Order
Subject
FHWA Personnel Management Manual; Part 1: Personnel Systems & Procedures, Chapter 6: Pay, Allowances, and Other Payments, Section 1: Determining Rate of Basic Pay Subsection 1: Advanced-in-Hiring Rates Based on Superior Qualifications
Classification Code Date
M3000.1C July 1, 2005  

Par.

  1. What is the purpose of this subsection?
  2. Does this directive cancel an existing Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) directive?
  3. What are the references used in this subsection?
  4. What is the FHWA's policy regarding the use of advanced-in-hiring rates based on superior qualifications?
  5. When should you use advanced-in-hiring rates based on superior qualifications?
  6. How are superior qualifications determined, and what factors are used for determining and making superior qualifications appointments?
  7. What is the required approval authority and what documentation is necessary for advanced-in-hiring rates based on superior qualifications?
  8. What are the procedures for implementing an appointment for advanced-in-hiring rates based on superior qualifications?
  9. What are the evaluation procedures for implementing an appointment for advanced-in-hiring rates based on superior qualifications?

 

  1. What is the purpose of this subsection? The purpose of this subsection is to provide the policies, requirements, responsibilities, and procedures for authorizing an advance-in-hiring rate appointment for a candidate based on his/her superior qualifications.

  2. Does this directive cancel an existing Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) directive? Yes. This directive cancels Personnel Management Manual (PMM), Part 1, Chapter 6, Section 1, Subsection 1, dated June 28, 1996.

  3. What are the references used in this subsection?

    1. Title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.), Section 5333(a);

    2. Public Law 101-509, Federal Employees Pay Comparability Act of 1990 (FEPCA), Section 101(a) and Section 106;

    3. Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), Part 531;

    4. Departmental Personnel Manual (DPM) Bulletin 338-9, dated November 5, 1991, Authority To Make Appointments Above Minimum Rates; and

    5. FHWA Delegations and Organization Manual, M1100.1A, Part I, Chapter 4, Appendix 1-1, and paragraph 121.

  4. What is the FHWA's policy regarding the use of advanced-in-hiring rates based on superior qualifications? The FHWA policy regarding the use of advanced-in-hiring rates based on superior qualifications is to appoint individuals consistent with the authorities and requirements in paragraph 3. Title 5, U.S.C., Section 5333(a), is the primary reference for the FHWA's policy regarding the use of advanced-in-hiring rates based on superior qualifications. It gives the Department of Transportation (DOT) and designated Federal agencies the authority to use advanced-in-hiring rates to appoint an individual to a position at a pay rate above the minimum allowed, based on the candidate's superior qualifications, and on at least one of the "special conditions" listed in paragraph 4a. The Office of the Secretary (OST) has delegated its authority to the DOT operating administrations which, in compliance with FEPCA, allows Federal agencies to approve appointments above the minimum step at any grade level within the General Schedule.

    1. Special conditions. The advanced-in-hiring rate can be used only if at least one of the following special conditions applies:

      1. (1) The position for which the candidate is being considered falls within a pre-established category of difficult-to-fill positions;

      2. (2) The candidate's qualifications are unusually high or unique; or

      3. (3) A special need exists within DOT or FHWA for the candidate's services.

    2. Advanced-in-hiring rates. The advanced rate should not exceed the pay the candidate would currently receive in non-Federal employment. If this rate falls between two steps of a grade, the candidate may be paid the higher step.

  5. When should you use advanced-in-hiring rates based on superior qualifications? Advanced-in-hiring rates based on superior qualifications appointments should be used by the FHWA in order to: (1) retain existing employees who possess skills that are difficult to find; (2) recruit potential employees and compete with the private sector for top-quality candidates; and (3) match a potential candidate's actual annual earnings.

  6. How are superior qualifications determined, and what factors are used for determining and making superior qualifications appointments? In determining what constitutes the candidate's superior qualifications, the servicing human resources office should assess the overall quality of candidates available in the specialty field of the vacant position and the qualities that distinguish the best candidates for the position being filled.

    1. Distinguishing criteria. The distinguishing criteria for the superior and uniquely qualified candidate may differ from the well-qualified candidate in factors such as readiness, adaptability, exposure, accomplishment, and relative expertise in the field.

    2. The vacancy. The position for which the candidate is being considered must be shown to merit the needed expertise of the superior or uniquely qualified candidate.

    3. Factors used for determining and making superior qualifications appointments include:

      1. (1) Whether there is a scarcity of qualified candidates in the occupation and/or whether the FHWA has experienced difficulty in filling vacancies in the occupation within a specific locale;

      2. (2) The number of well-qualified candidates, both in experience and education, and in relation to the well-qualified candidates, whether the candidate has an outstanding reputation, advanced degrees, published articles, unusual skills, or interdisciplinary training in the specific projects or programs associated with the vacancy;

      3. (3) Whether the specialty is new and emerging and for which persons with pertinent education or high-level experience are scarce;

      4. (4) Whether the candidate, without advanced degrees or unusual attainments, has been found superior based on his/her ability to perform the needed work; or

      5. (5) To what degree the qualifications of the candidate are rated as immediately valuable to the mission or strategic direction of the organization.

  7. What is the required approval authority and what documentation is necessary for advanced-in-hiring rates based on superior qualifications? The required approval authority and documentation necessary for advanced-in-hiring rates based on superior qualifications include the following:

    1. Prior to requesting the use of an "advanced rate", the selecting official, with the counsel of the servicing human resources office, must consider and provide documentation that other recruitment incentives have been considered.

    2. Prior to any firm offer of advance rate or commitment to hire, the servicing human resource office must request and receive for verification from the candidate written documentation representing the candidate's current earnings, leave, and benefits. Acceptable examples of official documentation include:

      1. (1) A letter from a company official on company stationery confirming the candidate's current salary;

      2. (2) Earnings and leave statements, accompanied by the most recent W-2 form or other support documentation to verify actual yearly earnings;

      3. (3) A letter from the candidate's employer confirming its firm offer of a salary increase; or

      4. (4) A letter confirming any other earnings on which the advanced rate would be based.

    3. For purposes of this subsection, actual annual earnings include:

      1. (1) The candidate's salary from his/her present position;

      2. (2) Income from any outside employment that forms a regular, continuing portion of the candidate's total income which the candidate will not be able to continue to receive after becoming a Federal employee;

      3. (3) Regularly received bonuses;

      4. (4) Current firm offers of a salary increase or other employment at a higher salary; and

      5. (5) Fringe benefits that are substantially superior to those offered by the Federal government.

    4. For purposes of this subsection, actual earnings do not include:

      1. (1) Projected earnings a candidate could have earned if he/she had been paid for volunteer services;

      2. (2) Projected earnings for a full year when an individual has been paid for working less than a full year (i.e. a school teacher or college instructor who has worked 9 out 12 months during a school year);

      3. (3) Projected earnings for full-time work when the actual hours worked were fewer than 40 hours a week, unless the candidate had an offer to work full-time;

      4. (4) Earnings from a single contract or consulting assignment that are significantly higher than the candidate's previous pay or other current offers; or

      5. (5) Projected income, such as military retired pay forfeited under the dual compensation law, which the FHWA is barred from matching by law or executive order.

    5. Fringe benefits. In comparing fringe benefits, the total benefits package must be considered. The fact that one or more individual fringe benefits are in excess of comparable Federal government fringe benefits does not necessarily mean that the total benefits package is in excess of the Federal government's overall fringe benefits package.

  8. What are the procedures for implementing an appointment for advanced-in-hiring rates based on superior qualifications? The following represents the procedures for implementing an appointment for advanced-in-hiring rates based on superior qualifications:

    1. The servicing human resources office has the authority to approve and to make appointments to positions at rates above the minimum rate but equivalent to what the candidate currently receives in non-Federal employment.

    2. The selecting offices must prepare and submit the request for an advanced-in-hiring rate to the servicing human resources office. The request must include:

      1. (1) Position title, series, grade, and duty location;

      2. (2) A written determination that shows the position meets the criteria to qualify for the advanced rate;

      3. (3) Documentation that shows other recruitment incentives were considered;

      4. (4) The candidate's resumé;

      5. (5) A written assessment of the candidate's superior qualifications, or a written assessment showing the Agency's critical need for the services of the candidate, as referenced in paragraph 4a(3); and

      6. (6) The proposed salary and the rationale for the proposed salary.

    3. When competitively required, the unit manager with delegated authority can approve a rate in excess of the salary the superior candidate receives by up to 10 percent of his/her current salary, but not by more than $5,000. The selecting office must obtain the concurrence of the servicing human resources office. The documentation required is the same as indicated in paragraph 7b, to support the rationale for the salary. This documentation is also required for the "superior" or "unique" qualification determination in conformance with criteria contained in paragraph 6a. When a determination has been made regarding the scarcity of candidates for the position, a copy of the Certificate of Eligibles, under the Merit Promotion Program, and/or a Standard Form-39 (Request for Referral of Eligibles), or Office of Personnel Management (OPM) Certificate, will also be maintained as documentation.

    4. When the provision for "special need of the Government for the candidate's service" is involved, and the servicing human resources office proposes to set a rate of pay of more than $5,000 above the candidate's current actual earnings, prior approval must be obtained from the Director, Office of Human Resources (HAHR). (In no case can a request exceed 20 percent of the candidate's actual annual earnings.) This provision can be used only in the extremely rare instances when it is determined that although the candidate does not strictly meet the conditions for an advanced-in-hiring rate, there is a need for the services of the candidate because his/her special experience, knowledge, or skills are essential to the accomplishment of a highly important Agency mission. In such cases, selecting offices must prepare and submit documentation to the Chief, Human Resources Services Group, for submission to the Director, HAHR. Requests from field offices must be submitted through their servicing human resources office. Each proposal must include the following:

      1. (1) The proposed position title, series, grade, step, salary, and duty location;

      2. (2) A resumé from the candidate; and

      3. (3) The justification for the proposed salary that conforms to criteria in paragraph 6, explaining fully the need for the services of the candidate.

    5. The documentation on the kinds of cases outlined in paragraphs 8b, 8c, and 8d must be maintained in a file separate from the Official Personnel Folder for 2 years after the effective date of the personnel action.

  9. What are the evaluation procedures for implementing an appointment for advanced-in-hiring rates based on superior qualifications?

    1. All servicing human resources offices must annually assess the use of the advanced-in-hiring authority through self-evaluation. The field servicing human resources offices shall submit an evaluation report of usage of this authority to the HAHR by December 15 of each year.

    2. Each evaluation report will include the total number of advanced-in-hiring actions taken during the calendar year and a copy of all documentation, as referenced in paragraph 7. Evaluation reports should also describe any irregularities detected in the application of this authority, any corrective measures that have been taken or should be taken, and any benefits or problems that developed resulting from the use of this authority. (NOTE: Any significant problems encountered with the use of this authority should be reported to the Chief, HAHR, immediately.) Self-evaluations should focus in particular on these problem areas:

      1. (1) Determining if a "double standard" pattern exists, i.e., determining whether the authority is being used predominantly for positions in the excepted service as opposed to positions in the competitive service, or whether the criteria being used to authorize above-minimum rates is being applied uniformly;

      2. (2) Determining if use of the authority has adversely affected the morale of employees:

        1. (a) If use of the authority has within the competitive market area created unusual turnover or loss in productivity; or

        2. (b) If there are repeated instances of turnover because of internal pay inequities, which are not supported by distinctions in longevity, ability, or in employee qualifications and their relative value within the organization.

      3. (3) Determining if a pattern of selecting lower-ranked candidates on Delegated Examining Unit (DEU)/OPM certificates or merit promotion certificates has developed. Such a pattern may exist when:

        1. (a) On DEU/OPM certificates, there are repeated instances of selection other than the first-ranked candidate at an advanced-in-hiring rate when the first-ranked candidate would have accepted a lower salary; and

        2. (b) On merit promotion certificates there are repeated instances of selection of a lower-ranked outside candidate with reinstatement eligibility at an advanced-in-hiring rate when a higher-ranked candidate would have accepted a lower salary. This would occur when the highest previous rate rule would not apply because the candidate's current earnings in private industry are higher than what would be allotted to him/her using the highest previous rate rule.

      4. (4) Determining whether constant labor market problems exist in an occupational group or specialty that might best be met by the establishment of a special salary rate. Factors that may serve as indicators include instances:

        1. (a) When the total number of advanced-in-hiring actions taken have also utilized FEPCA recruitment bonuses or other incentives;

        2. (b) When there is repeated and consistent use of the advanced-in-hiring authority within an occupation inconsistent with the levels of qualifications; or

        3. (c) When there is frequent turnover within an occupational field.

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