As of September 2004, 71 percent of federal civilian employees were paid under the GS. Senior Executive Service and the Executive Schedule for high-ranking federal employees, and other unique pay schedules used by some agencies such as the United States Securities and Exchange Commission and 2014 military pay scale pdf Foreign Service. Starting in 2009, some federal employees were also paid under Pay Bands. The pay scale was originally created with the purpose of keeping federal salaries in line with equivalent private sector jobs.
Although never the intent, the GS schedule does do a good job of ensuring equal pay for equal work by reducing pay gaps between men, women, and minorities, in accordance with another, separate law, the Equal Pay Act of 1963. This system ignored the growing reality of regional differences in salaries and wages across the United States, and this led to a perception that in many locations federal civil service salaries were increasingly uncompetitive with those in the private sector, thus affecting recruiting and retention efforts by federal agencies.