Pay and Term Limits, Exceptions (Form 11B Approvals)


Effective Date: Expiration Date: Chapters:
Aug. 11, 2020 June 1, 2022 2   11  


The District of Columbia provides its employees compensation packages that include competitive salaries and benefits. In setting employee pay, we are guided by our responsibility to be both accountable and fair to the citizens we serve and our employees. For this reason, there are specific limits when establishing an employee’s pay rate for initial appointments as well as competitive reassignments, transfers and promotions. Exceptions to these pay limitations may be authorized by the Director of the Department of Human Resources (DCHR). This issuance outlines pay setting and term appointment limitations, provides guidance on when an exception may be made to these limits, and provides procedures for requesting approval for exceptions. 

Pay Setting Limits

As stewards of the public trust, we have a fiduciary responsibility to residents of the District of Columbia to ensure government accountability and internal salary equity. In setting pay, agencies may set salaries up to prescribed limits.

Limits for Competitive Appointments

When a position is classified, it is assigned a grade with a corresponding salary schedule. When selecting the salary from these schedules, the salary for competitive appointments, which are appointments made through open competition to the general public, cannot exceed the “representative rate.” For salary schedules using steps, the representative rate is step 4 of the applicable grades. For salary schedules using pay ranges, the representative rate is the mid-point salary within the range at the given grade or level.


To properly compensate a candidate who is a new hire or is otherwise being appointed through a competitive process open to the public, it may be necessary to exceed the representative rate salary limit. The Director of DCHR may authorize exceptions to the pay limit for competitive appointments under these circumstances.

An agency seeking to set an initial salary above the representative rate may only do so with the approval of DCHR and only if the appointee possesses “superior qualifications.” Approval of superior qualifications exception is only appropriate when: (1) the appointee possesses unusually high or unique qualifications; (2) the agency has a special need for these unique qualifications; (3) the requested salary is reasonable considering the market value of the job; and (4) the proposed salary is consistent with the candidate’s rate of basic pay or salary history when appropriate. 

NOTE: An agency may only request that a candidate provide his or her salary history after the candidate has raised his or her salary history in connection with salary negotiations. If the candidate raises their salary history through the negotiation process, DCHR must consider the history when authorizing salaries above the representative rate.

Limit on Pay Setting Above $110,297

When an agency competitively appoints or promotes an employee, the agency may provide a salary of no more than Grade 14, Step 3, on the non-union Career Services salary schedule, unless authorized by the Director of DCHR. As of the publication date of this issuance, the pay setting limit based on Grade 14, Step 3, is equal to $110,297 annually.


The $110,297 salary limit does not apply to pay setting for candidates and employees when the minimum rate on the applicable grade equals or exceeds $110,297. In addition, this limit does not apply to employees whose salary is being increased from a salary that is already $110,297, or greater.

The Director of DCHR may approve exceptions to the general $110,297 salary limit. Exceptions to this rule will be approved when the proposed salary is consistent with the market value of the job, taking into consideration the skills and experience of the specific candidate.

Limit on Annual Salary Increases Exceeding $12,000

For existing employees, and subject to limitations imposed by additional applicable regulations, agencies may provide pay increases in conjunction with a competitive appointment, to an amount consistent with the market value for the job, considering the employee’s skills and experience. However, an employee may not receive more than a $12,000 pay increase within any 12-month period.


The Director of DCHR may approve exceptions to the $12,000 pay increase limit. Exceptions to this rule can be approved when the proposed salary is consistent with the market value of the job, taking into consideration the skills and experience of the specific candidate, and giving due consideration to principles of accountability and equity.

NOTE: The $12,000 annual pay increase limit applies to cases where pay increases are recommended or limited to a 10% pay increase, such as pay increases when moving from the Career Service to the Management Supervisory Service.

Time-In-Grade Restrictions (Career Service Only)

Within the Career Service, employees may be promoted to a higher grade only after having met a time-in-grade requirement. Employees may be promoted to the next higher grade when they have served one or more years at a lower grade on the salary schedule per DPM § 838. For example, an employee may be promoted to Grade 12 from Grade 11, when the employee has served one or more years at Grade 11; and, for schedules with two-grade intervals, an employee may be promoted to Grade 11 from Grade 9, when the employee has served one or more years at Grade 9. 


The Director of DCHR may approve an exception to the time-in-grade restriction when the employee meets the qualifications for the position and is the highest-ranking candidate. Waivers of time-in-grade will be based on the employee’s total work history, experience performing work related to the higher position, superior academic credentials or achievements, education related to the position, and reasons of hardship, inequity, or in especially meritorious cases. Waivers of time-in-grade cannot be requested for non-competitive career ladder promotions. Additionally, an employee is not eligible to receive a Time-In-Grade Waiver if a waiver was granted for the employee within the last 12 months. For additional information, consult our guidance on Time-in-Grade Requirements and Restrictions.

Term Appointment Limits

An agency may appoint an employee to a term of more than one year and no more than four years when the agency has a need for work on a time-limited basis. Terms are often referred to as “Not to Exceed (NTE)” appointments. In general, term appointments may not be extended.


The Director of DCHR may authorize the extension of a term appointment when the period for completing the time-limited work must be extended for legitimate business purposes. However, unless supported by a non-District government funding source, no term appointment will be extended for employees who have served continuously for four or more years in a term appointment(s).

For employees who have served continuously for four or more years in a term appointment(s) funded by local District government funds, the employee’s appointment must be “converted” to a permanent position, the employee must compete for and be appointed to a permanent position, or the employee must be separated from government service. An employee is eligible for conversion if the employee secured the current term appointment through competition. If the term appointment was not made through competition, the employee must compete for the position.

Requesting an Exception

Pay Setting Exceptions

When requesting exceptions to pay setting limitations, the agency must provide a justification that establishes that the proposed salary falls within the salary range for the job within the market for the job and is consistent with the individual’s skills and experience. A detailed analysis of the candidate’s qualifications and how they compare to those of the market for the job must be submitted along with supporting documentation. Supporting documentation includes copies of the candidate’s completed employment application, written justifications, position descriptions, and any other supporting documentation or statements that support the agency’s request for an exception. 

Term Limit Extensions

When requesting extensions to term appointments, the agency must provide a legitimate business justification explaining why the temporary work period must be extended. If, with the extension, the employee will be serving in a term appointment of more than four years, the agency must provide documentation establishing that the position is being funded from a non-District government source.


All documentation should be submitted along with a completed D.C. Standard Form 11B-10, Hiring and Pay Exceptions Request Form. The form must be sent to the Human Resources Solutions Administration (HRSA) via email to [email protected] or submitted through the applicable HR Information System (if available). An HR Specialist will review the request and prepare it for submission to the Associate Director of HRSA.

No proposed actions shall become effective prior to being approved and processed by DCHR.

Approval Process

Once DCHR receives a request for an exception, the request will be reviewed along with all supporting documentation and will be approved or denied by DCHR. When a request is approved, the agency HR official will receive a copy of the signed form with all approvals and may extend the offer of employment or increase the salary based on the exceptions requested. However, if the request is denied, the agency HR official will receive a copy of the denial along with a written notification explaining why the requested exceptions were not approved. Agencies should be prepared to make an offer that aligns with the final decision. 



  1. Delegation of Mayor’s [personnel] authority, D.C. Official Code § 1-604.02(d);
  2. Personnel authority, D.C. Official Code § 1-604.06(b);
  3. Career Service, D.C. Official Code § 1-608.01;
  4. Authority of the Director of DCHR, Mayor’s Order 2008-92 (June 26, 2008);
  5. Career Service (personnel regulations), Title 6B, Chapter 8, D.C. Municipal Regulations;
  6. Classification and Compensation, Title 6B, Chapter 11 §§ 1123 – 1156, D.C. Municipal Regulations. 


This instruction applies to District government agencies that are subordinate to the Mayor’s personnel authority.

Additional Information

For additional information concerning this instruction, please contact the Department of Human Resources, Policy and Compliance Administration, by calling (202) 442-9700 or by sending an e-mail to [email protected]


  1. Attachment 1 - Form 11B

Issued by Director Ventris C. Gibson, D.C. Department of Human Resources on Aug. 11, 2020, midnight