Human Capital: The Department of Health and Human Service's and Environmental Protection Agency's Use of Special Pay Rates for Consultants and Scientists Page: 4 of 23
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to 30 persons at any one time through fiscal year 2015. HHS has used
sections 209(f) and (g) and EPA has used section 209(g) to appoint
individuals from the private sector and academia as well as to convert
federal government employees under other pay systems-such as the
General Schedule-to Title 42.
In implementing Title 42, HHS and EPA can set higher pay limits than
those provided under typical civil service hiring authorities. According to
HHS and EPA officials, the pay setting flexibility is needed to compete
with the private sector and academia to recruit and retain critical
personnel. For example, the highest base pay amount in the General
Schedule in 2012 is $155,500. In comparison, per HHS policy, the annual
base salary for many appointments under Title 42 at HHS cannot exceed
$250,000 per calendar year, with total compensation not to exceed
$275,000 unless approved by the Secretary.4 Similarly, EPA policy caps
annual base salary for Title 42 employees at $250,000, with total
compensation that may not exceed $275,000. As discussed below, under
certain types of Title 42 appointments, statutory pay caps may apply.
To obtain a better understanding of the appointment and compensation
practices under sections 209(f) and 209(g), we were asked to review the
extent to which HHS and EPA have (1) used the authority under sections
209(f) and (g) to appoint and set pay for employees since January 2006,
and (2) followed applicable agency policy, guidance, and internal controls
for appointments and compensation.5 We were also asked to determine
whether there are any statutory caps on pay for consultants and scientists
appointed under sections 209(f) and (g). This testimony is based on our
report (GAO-12-692) and related legal opinion (B-323357) issued in July
2012 that both addressed the questions above.
4The salary and compensation limits were lowered in HHS policy issued in February 2012.
In March 2007, HHS limited annual base salary for employees hired under section 209(f)
to $350,000 and $375,000 in total compensation. These higher limits were in place during
most years of our review of HHS's Title 42 use (2006 through 2010). Total compensation
at HHS includes base pay; recruitment and retention incentives; and cash awards, such
as performance bonuses.
5According to HHS human resource officials, personnel data prior to 2006 were likely not
reliable for our analysis. EPA began using Title 42 in 2006. HHS data are available
through the end of 2010, the last year of complete data available at the time we did our
study; and at EPA, through the end of 2011.
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United States. Government Accountability Office. Human Capital: The Department of Health and Human Service's and Environmental Protection Agency's Use of Special Pay Rates for Consultants and Scientists, text, September 14, 2012; Washington D.C.. (https://digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc298011/m1/4/: accessed March 24, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, https://digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.