Senior Executive Service (United States)
The Senior Executive Service (SES) is a position classification in the civil service of the United States federal government, somewhat analogous to the ranks of general or admiral 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.
Origin and attributes 
From the Office of Personnel Management:
- The Senior Executive Service consists of the men and women charged with leading the continuing transformation of government. These leaders possess well-honed executive skills and share a broad perspective of government and a public service commitment which is grounded in the Constitution. The keystone of the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978, the SES was designed to be a corps of executives selected for their leadership qualifications.
- Members of the SES serve in the key positions just below the top Presidential appointees. For protocol purposes, SES positions correspond to flag officers (e.g., generals, admirals) in the military. In general, SES members are the major link between the Presidential appointees and the rest of the Federal (civil service) work force. At the executive level, they operate and oversee nearly every government activity in approximately 75 Federal agencies.
- The Office of Personnel Management (OPM) manages the overall Federal executive personnel program. OPM Staff provides the day-to-day oversight of and assistance to agencies as they develop, select, and manage their Federal executives.
Career members of the SES ranks are eligible for the Presidential Rank Awards program.
Members of the Senior Executives Service are represented by the Senior Executives Association.
The Senior Executive Service (SES) was composed of non-presidentially appointed officials above the GS-15 level of the general personnel schedule and below Level III of the executive schedule. Senior level employees of 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 are exempt from the SES.
Pay rates 
Unlike the General Schedule, 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 ($119,554 for 2010). The maximum pay level depends on whether or not the employing agency has a "certified" SES performance appraisal system:
- If the agency has a certified system, the maximum pay is set at Level II of the Executive Schedule ($179,700 for 2010).
- If the agency does not have a certified system, the maximum pay is set at Level III of the Executive Schedule ($165,300 for 2010).
Total aggregate pay is limited to the salary of the Vice President of the United States ($230,700 for 2010).