History of compensation... The current structure of the federal pay system began as the Classification Act of 1923. This was the first attempt by the government to develop a formal compensation plan, ensuring the same pay scale was applied to work regardless of department or agency.

Under this act, jobs were classified and graded according to their duties and salary levels were determined. Although later amended, the act provided the foundation to the compensation structure of Federal Civil Service employees today.

By the 1930s, the federal government began compiling standard descriptions of non-union, mostly blue-collar jobs. The first edition of the Dictionary of Occupational Titles (DOT), published in 1939, defined over 13,000 occupational categories and included job responsibilities, duties and physical abilities required. Later rendered obsolete and abandoned by the Department of Labor, the DOT was replaced by an online database with less than 1,000 listed occupations. The new database was called the Occupational Information Network, or the O*NET, which classified jobs in job families and included sub-specialties and various worker levels.

More tomorrow...