Quality Step Increase
A quality step increase (QSI) is a faster than normal within-grade
increase used to reward a General Schedule (GS) employee who demonstrates
high quality performance. A QSI is a change in base pay providing cumulative
benefits and is usually considered a higher form of recognition than a
performance cash award. Granting of a QSI is no longer attached to the
annual appraisal cycle and may be granted at any time during the rating year
based upon the eligibility criteria below.
- A GS employee is eligible to receive a QSI if he or she:
- Is below step 10 of their grade;
- Is rated “Exceeds,” on the Excellence, Achievement and
Recognition System (EARS) or “Achieved Excellence” on the Department
of Homeland Security/Performance Management System (DHS/PMS);
- Has demonstrated sustained superior or high-quality performance
which significantly enhances mission accomplishment; and
- Has not received a QSI within the preceding 52 consecutive
- Sustained superior or high quality performance is characterized
- A rating of “Exceeds” or “Achieved Excellence” received
during the preceding 52 consecutive calendar week period;
- Exemplary performance that is expected to remain
consistently high well beyond the preceding 52 consecutive
calendar week period;
- Sufficient duration and substance as to fully justify a QSI.
Duration is a time period that is typically a minimum of six
months into a rating cycle, or mid-way through an appraisal
period when a Progress Review is due to be issued. Substance is
demonstrated performance that is truly exceptional, reflects
measurable results and benefit to the Coast Guard, and fully
justifies a permanent increase in the rate of base pay.
- A GS employee is ineligible to receive a QSI when he/she:
- Received a QSI within the preceding 52 consecutive calendar
- Is in a career ladder position where promotion to the next
higher grade is based on a rating of “Meets” (EARS) or “Achieved
Expectations” (DHS/PMS) at the previous grade level; and,
- Is due to receive or just received a promotion based upon a
description of the same sustained superior or high quality
performance that is now being cited as justification for an award of
- Only one (1) QSI may be granted to an employee within a 52
consecutive calendar week period. An employee may receive either a QSI
or a performance cash award, but not both, for the same rated
performance within a 52 consecutive calendar week period.
- A QSI is not an equivalent increase and will not start a new waiting
period for the next within-grade increase. This means an employee will
be credited with time already accumulated while in a waiting status.
However, receipt of a QSI may delay the next regular within-grade
increase if its receipt places an employee at either step 4 or step 7 of
a grade because the waiting period will be extended an additional 52
- Upon funding
certification, the effective date of a QSI will be one pay period after
CG-83 approves the QSI, whenever practicable.
- A QSI may be held no longer than two pay periods when the goal is to
accommodate an effective date of a within-grade increase.