Seal of the U.S. Senior Executive Service
Flag of the U.S. Senior Executive Service
The Senior Executive Service (SES) is a position classification in the civil service of the United States federal government, equivalent to general officer or flag officer ranks in the U.S. Armed Forces. It was created in 1979 when the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 went into effect under President Jimmy Carter.
According to the Office of Personnel Management, the SES was designed to be a corps of executives selected for their leadership qualifications, serving in key positions just below the top Presidential appointees as a link between them and the rest of the Federal (civil service) workforce. SES positions are considered to be above the GS-15 level of the General Schedule, and below Level III of the Executive Schedule. Career members of the SES ranks are eligible for the Presidential Rank Awards program.
Up to 10% of SES positions can be filled as political appointments rather than by career employees. About half of the SES is designated "Career Reserved", which can only be filled by career employees. The other half is designated "General", which can be filled by either career employees or political appointments as desired by the administration. Due to the 10% limitation, most General positions are still filled by career appointees.
Senior level employees of several agencies are exempt from the SES but have their own senior executive positions; these include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Central Intelligence Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, Transportation Security Administration, Federal Aviation Administration, Government Accountability Office, Members of the Foreign Service, and government corporations.
|Agencies with a Certified SES Performance Appraisal System||$127,914||$192,300|
|Agencies without a Certified SES Performance Appraisal System||$127,914||$176,900|
Unlike the General Schedule (GS) grades, SES pay is determined at agency discretion within certain parameters, and there is no locality pay adjustment.
The minimum pay level for the SES is set at 120 percent of the basic pay for GS-15 Step 1 employees ($126,148 for 2018). The maximum pay level depends on whether or not the employing agency has a "certified" SES performance appraisal system:
Prior to 2004, the SES used a six-level system. It was replaced with the current open band system on January 1, 2014.