OPM has put out guidance in question and answer format on the late-2015 executive order on SES policies, focusing on pay, awards and other policies.

It says that while SES pay increases are to be performance-based, under the order it “may be appropriate for the agency to take into consideration” the salaries of their GS subordinates, including their locality pay, when adjusting SES salaries, in order to keep them ahead. That also is to be considered in setting initial pay of new execs, it said.

That consideration applies only to directly reporting GS subordinates, and further not to subordinates under another pay system such as the senior level or senior scientific and technical systems.

Any recruiting and retention payments to execs are not to be taken into consideration in setting initial pay or annual raises, it adds.

Also, the order raised the cap on performance-based payouts to 7.5 percent of SES aggregate salaries; the guidance says that is to first apply for awards reflecting performance in fiscal 2016.

The requirements for an agency to be certified as making “meaningful distinctions” in levels of SES performance—which allows a higher annual salary cap and a higher total compensation limit—have not changed, it added.