Job Terminology Glossary

Name (Sorted descending) Term Description
Temporary Appointment

A non-status appointment to a competitive service position for a specific time period not to exceed one year. (DEO Handbook Glossary)

Term Appointment

A non-status appointment to a position in the competitive service for a specific period of more than one year and lasting not more than four years. (DEO Handbook Glossary)

Thrift Savings Plan (TSP)

A retirement savings and investment plan for Federal employees and members of the uniformed services, including the Ready Reserve. It was established by Congress in the Federal Employees' Retirement System Act of 1986 and offers the same types of savings and tax benefits that many private corporations offer their employees under 401(k) plans. It is a defined contribution plan administered by the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board. CSRS employees can also contribute but receive no agency contributions. (5 USC 8351 and TSP website)

Time-In-Grade (TIG)

The length of time of required service at a certain grade level in order to be eligible for promotion to positions in the GS pay system. It usually refers to the length of time needed to satisfy the promotion requirements of the next highest level. (5 CFR 300.605)

Time-In-Grade Restrictions

Requirements intended to prevent excessively rapid promotions in competitive service General Schedule positions and to protect competitive principles. They provide a budgetary control on promotion rates and help assure that appointments are made from appropriate registers. Generally, an employee may not be promoted more than two grades within one year to positions up to GS-5. Above GS-5, an employee must serve a minimum of one year in grade, and cannot be promoted more than one grade, or two grades if that is the normal progression. (5 CFR 300.605)

Title 38

The NIH Title 38 pay program uses special pay authorities to provide higher rates of pay to employees in certain health care occupations who provide direct patient-care services or services incident to patient care. Since these unique pay authorities are located in Title 38 of the United States Code, they are commonly referred to as “Title 38” pay. These special authorities are primarily available to the Department of Veterans Affairs and are accessible to the NIH through an innovative agreement between the Office of Personnel Management and the Department of Health and Human Services. Certain employees hired under Title 5 (the General Schedule) are eligible to receive Title 38 pay. The three main parts of the NIH Title 38 pay program include premium pay, special salary rates and physician and dentist pay. (NIH Title 38)

Title 38 Physician and Dentist Pay

NIH physicians and dentists appointed under Title 5 (General Schedule) who are licensed and provide direct patient care services or services incident to patient care are eligible for Title 38 PDP at the discretion of the Institute or Center. The Title 38 PDP system consists of two components: 1) General Schedule base (non-locality) pay and 2) Title 38 Market Pay. NIH has developed provisions to ensure that the compensation and peer review of physicians and dentists who are paid under Title 38 PDP align with that of other NIH physicians and dentists who are performing similar work. (NIH Title 38)

Title 38 Premium Pay

Title 38 premium pay is additional pay that is provided to employees in specific approved health care occupations, in lieu of the premium pay paid to most General Schedule (Title 5) employees. Title 38 premium pay has several different components: overtime, night differential, Saturday/Sunday differential, holiday pay and on-call pay. The advanced rate of Title 38 premium pay helps NIH successfully address the distinct challenges of operating a large, around-the-clock medical facility. (NIH Title 38)

Title 38 Special Salary Rates

Title 38 special salary rates provide pay above the General Schedule (Title 5) equivalent rates in order to foster NIH’s recruitment and retention efforts for certain occupations. (NIH Title 38)

Title 42

(See also “Administratively Determined (AD) Pay Systems”). Title 42 is the law addressing the Public Health and Welfare and is the term commonly used at NIH to reference human resources appointing authorities that appear in 42 USC 209. Title 42 is a flexible hiring mechanism that allows NIH to attract and retain staff with outstanding scientific, technical and clinical skills.

Title 5

The section of the United States Code which provides the law governing the employment of the majority of federal employees including those employees paid under the General Schedule, the Federal Wage System and the Senior Executive Service. (5 USC)


A change of an employee, without a break in service of one full workday, from a position in one agency to a position in another agency that can be filled under the same appointing authority. (OPM GPPA Ch 35 p (35-15))