Proposed Pay Changes for “Non-Foreign” Areas

OPM is proposing changes on pay administration for federal employees in “non-foreign areas.” Here are the changes and a chance to comment on the proposal.

What is a “non-foreign area?”

Someone compiling a book on bureaucratic terms could do worse than putting this term as one of the top ten.

The phrase means a geographic area that is part of the United States in some way. The term has popped up again in new regulations proposed by the Office of Personnel Management (OPM). 

The agency is proposing regulations on pay administration rules for employees in “non-foreign areas.” These areas, which in some cases include states that are not within the main geographic area of the country, include Alaska, Hawaii, Guam, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands.

The regulations propose a number of changes in this pay system:

  • Considering locality pay and non-foreign area cost-of-living allowances (COLAs) when evaluating the need for special rates;
  • Computing special rate supplements using an alternate method in non-foreign areas;
  • Authorizing OPM to establish separate special rate schedules that temporarily maintain higher special rates for current non-foreign area employees in a covered category;
  • Considering locality rates as basic pay for the purpose of computing non-foreign area COLAs and post differentials;
  • Allowing a retained rate established based on a special rate payable in a non-foreign area that is in excess of the applicable limitation on special rates on January 1, 2012, to exceed the rate payable for level IV of the Executive Schedule; and
  • Allowing temporary and term employees in non-foreign areas to be eligible for a retained rate in certain circumstances.

The comment period on this proposed regulation is 45 days. Comments are due by September 15, 2011. For more information, contact Carey Jones by telephone at (202) 606-2858; by fax at (202) 606-0824; or by e-mail at

You can read the proposed regulation and submit a comment through this site