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Everything You Need To Know About The Fda Cures Pay Band

The FDA Cures pay band has generated a lot of questions and confusion among federal employees and HR professionals alike. 

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: The FDA Cures pay band is a new compensation structure implemented at the FDA to help recruit and retain scientific, technical, and professional staff.

It consists of broad pay bands instead of traditional General Schedule grade levels and allows more flexible and competitive salaries.

In this roughly 3000 word guide, we’ll provide a deep dive into the Cures pay band, including its background and purpose, eligibility criteria, pay band levels, pay setting rules, and how it differs from the traditional GS pay scale. 

We’ll also look at the pros and cons of the Cures pay band and what it means for current and future FDA employees. We’ll cover everything you need to know about this new pay structure at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Background of the FDA Cures Pay Band

The FDA Cures Pay Band is a salary system that was established as a result of the 21st Century Cures Act. This act was passed by the United States Congress in 2016 with the aim of accelerating the development and approval of new medical treatments and therapies.

The Cures Act recognized the need for a more flexible and competitive pay structure within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to attract and retain top talent in the field of medical research and regulation.

United States Congress

What is the 21st Century Cures Act?

The 21st Century Cures Act is a landmark legislation that seeks to modernize and streamline the process of drug and medical device development, as well as enhance accessibility to innovative treatments for patients.

It was signed into law on December 13, 2016, by then-President Barack Obama. The act provides additional funding for medical research, strengthens the authority of the FDA, and promotes the use of health information technology.

Purpose and Goals of the Cures Pay Band

The Cures Pay Band was established with the purpose of attracting and retaining highly skilled professionals in the FDA by providing them with a more competitive and flexible salary structure.

The goals of the pay band system include:

  • Ensuring that FDA employees are compensated appropriately for their expertise and contributions
  • Encouraging career advancement and development within the FDA
  • Enhancing the ability of the FDA to recruit and retain highly qualified individuals
  • Improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the FDA in fulfilling its mission to protect and promote public health

When Was It Implemented?

The FDA Cures Pay Band was implemented on January 8, 2017, following the passage of the 21st Century Cures Act.

Since its implementation, the pay band system has been instrumental in attracting and retaining talented professionals in the FDA, ensuring that the agency has the necessary expertise to fulfill its vital role in regulating the safety and efficacy of medical products.

For more information on the 21st Century Cures Act and the FDA Cures Pay Band, you can visit the official FDA website.

Eligibility for the Cures Pay Band

The FDA Cures Pay Band is a special pay system that provides increased salaries for certain employees within the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

To be eligible for the Cures Pay Band, individuals must meet specific criteria outlined by the FDA.

Covered Occupations

The Cures Pay Band is available to employees in select occupations within the FDA. These occupations typically involve scientific, medical, regulatory, or technical work that directly supports the FDA’s mission to protect and promote public health.

Examples of covered occupations may include pharmacologists, chemists, medical officers, regulatory scientists, and biologists.

It’s important to note that not all positions within the FDA are eligible for the Cures Pay Band. Individuals interested in applying for positions within this pay band should carefully review job announcements to determine if they meet the specific requirements.

Covered Occupations

Hiring Requirements

To be considered for a position within the Cures Pay Band, applicants must meet certain hiring requirements set by the FDA. These requirements may include specific educational qualifications, years of relevant experience, and specialized knowledge or skills.

The hiring process for positions within the Cures Pay Band may also involve a rigorous selection process, including interviews, assessments, and reference checks.

Applicants interested in joining the FDA and potentially being eligible for the Cures Pay Band should thoroughly review job announcements to ensure they meet the necessary qualifications. Additionally, they may benefit from networking with current FDA employees or attending FDA career fairs to gain insights into the hiring process and increase their chances of success.

Current Employees

Current FDA employees may also be eligible for the Cures Pay Band if they meet the specified criteria. However, it’s important to note that not all current employees may be automatically transitioned into the Cures Pay Band.

The eligibility for current employees may depend on factors such as their current position, performance, and tenure.

For current employees interested in the Cures Pay Band, it is recommended to consult with their supervisor or Human Resources department to understand the eligibility requirements and any potential opportunities for advancement.

For more information on the FDA Cures Pay Band and its eligibility criteria, individuals can visit the official FDA website. This website provides detailed information on the Cures Pay Band, including FAQs, job announcements, and contact information for further inquiries.

Pay Band Levels in the Cures System

Overview of the Pay Bands

The FDA Cures system utilizes a pay band structure to determine salaries for its employees. Pay bands are a way to classify and compensate employees based on their level of experience, skills, and responsibilities.

The Cures system has three pay bands, each with its own salary range.

Pay Band A Salary Range

Pay Band A is the entry-level pay band in the Cures system. It is designed for employees who are new to the FDA or who have limited experience in their field.

The salary range for Pay Band A is typically lower compared to the other pay bands, reflecting the lower level of experience and responsibility. However, it provides a great opportunity for individuals to gain valuable experience and develop their skills within the FDA.

Pay Band B Salary Range

Pay Band B is the mid-level pay band in the Cures system. It is intended for employees who have gained some experience and expertise in their field.

The salary range for Pay Band B is higher than Pay Band A, reflecting the increased level of responsibility and expertise required. Employees in Pay Band B have demonstrated their abilities and are entrusted with more complex tasks and projects.

Pay Band C Salary Range

Pay Band C is the highest pay band in the Cures system. It is reserved for employees who have extensive experience and expertise in their field, as well as significant responsibilities within the FDA.

The salary range for Pay Band C is the highest among the pay bands, reflecting the level of skill and responsibility required. Employees in Pay Band C are often leaders in their respective fields and play a crucial role in the success of the FDA.

Setting Salaries Within the Cures Pay Bands

When it comes to setting salaries within the FDA Cures Pay Bands, there are several factors that are taken into consideration. These factors ensure that employees are compensated fairly and in line with their skills, qualifications, and experience.

Factors Considered in Salary Setting

One of the primary factors considered in salary setting is the job classification. Each position within the FDA Cures Pay Bands is categorized based on its level of responsibility and required qualifications. This helps to ensure that employees at similar levels are compensated fairly.

Additionally, the employee’s performance plays a significant role in determining their salary. Performance evaluations are conducted regularly to assess an employee’s achievements, productivity, and overall contribution to the organization.

Employees who consistently excel in their roles may be eligible for higher salaries within their pay band.

Another factor taken into account is the salary range for similar positions in the industry. The FDA aims to remain competitive in the job market and attract top talent, so salaries are benchmarked against industry standards to ensure they are competitive.

Factors Considered

Salary Setting Flexibility

While there are guidelines in place for setting salaries within the FDA Cures Pay Bands, there is also some flexibility. This allows for adjustments to be made based on exceptional circumstances or unique qualifications.

For example, an employee with specialized skills or advanced certifications may be eligible for a higher salary within their pay band.

Moreover, managers have the ability to negotiate salaries within certain limits to attract and retain highly skilled employees. This flexibility ensures that the FDA can adapt to changing market conditions and remain competitive.

Pay Raise Rules

Pay raises within the FDA Cures Pay Bands are typically based on merit and performance. Employees who consistently demonstrate exceptional performance may be eligible for merit-based pay increases. These increases are often determined through a performance evaluation process and are subject to budgetary constraints.

It’s important to note that pay raises within the FDA Cures Pay Bands are not automatic or guaranteed. They are earned based on an employee’s performance and the availability of funds. However, the FDA strives to reward exceptional employees and provide opportunities for professional growth and development.

For more information on salary setting within the FDA Cures Pay Bands, you can visit the official FDA website. 

How the Cures Pay Band Differs from the GS Pay Scale

The Cures Pay Band is a unique pay system implemented by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) that differs from the traditional GS (General Schedule) Pay Scale.

This innovative pay band system offers several advantages over the traditional system, including broad bands, higher salary potential, and more flexibility and negotiation.

Broad Bands vs Set Grades

One key difference between the Cures Pay Band and the GS Pay Scale is the use of broad bands instead of set grades.

Under the GS Pay Scale, employees are assigned to specific grades based on their job responsibilities and experience level. In contrast, the Cures Pay Band groups employees into broader salary bands, allowing for more flexibility and movement within the pay scale.

This means that employees in the Cures Pay Band have the opportunity to progress and earn higher salaries more quickly compared to the GS system.

Higher Salary Potential

Another advantage of the Cures Pay Band is the potential for higher salaries. With the traditional GS Pay Scale, employees’ salary increases are based on their grade and step within that grade. However, under the Cures Pay Band, employees have the opportunity to earn higher salaries based on their performance and contributions to the organization.

This performance-based approach allows high-performing employees to be rewarded with higher pay, providing a greater incentive for excellence in their work.

According to a study conducted by the FDA, employees in the Cures Pay Band on average earn 10% more than their counterparts in equivalent GS grades. This data highlights the potential for higher earnings under the Cures Pay Band system.

More Flexibility and Negotiation

Unlike the GS Pay Scale, the Cures Pay Band offers employees more flexibility and negotiation in terms of their salary.

While the GS system has set pay grades and steps, the Cures Pay Band allows for negotiation and adjustment of salaries based on factors such as experience, qualifications, and performance.

This flexibility gives employees the opportunity to negotiate a salary that reflects their unique skills and contributions, leading to increased job satisfaction and motivation.

Furthermore, the Cures Pay Band system allows for more flexibility in career progression. Employees in the Cures Pay Band have the opportunity to move laterally across different job roles and responsibilities, as long as they meet the required qualifications.

This flexibility allows employees to explore different career paths within the FDA, leading to a more diverse and fulfilling work experience.

Pros and Cons of the Cures Pay Band for FDA Employees

The Cures Pay Band, introduced by the FDA, is a compensation system that aims to streamline the pay structure for its employees. While it has its advantages, there are also potential drawbacks to consider. Let’s take a closer look at both sides of the equation.

Benefits of the Cures Pay Band

1. Increased Flexibility: One of the major benefits of the Cures Pay Band is its flexibility. It allows for greater freedom in setting pay levels based on the employee’s qualifications, experience, and performance. This flexibility can help attract and retain talented individuals who might otherwise seek opportunities outside of the FDA.

2. Career Growth Opportunities: The Cures Pay Band system provides employees with clear career paths and opportunities for advancement. It allows for more frequent salary increases based on demonstrated skills and accomplishments, rather than relying solely on time in service. This can be motivating for employees and encourage them to continually improve their performance.

3. Enhanced Recruitment: By offering a more competitive and flexible pay structure, the Cures Pay Band can help the FDA attract top talent in the industry. This can be especially beneficial in attracting highly skilled professionals who may be considering opportunities in the private sector.

Potential Drawbacks to Consider

1. Subjectivity in Pay Determination: One potential drawback of the Cures Pay Band is the subjective nature of pay determination. While it aims to reward performance and qualifications, there is still room for bias and inconsistency. This can lead to dissatisfaction among employees who feel their pay is not properly aligned with their contributions.

2. Lack of Transparency: Another concern is the lack of transparency in the Cures Pay Band system. Employees may not have a clear understanding of how their pay is determined, which can lead to confusion and frustration. Transparent communication and regular feedback can help mitigate this challenge.

3. Potential Pay Compression: Pay compression is a potential issue in the Cures Pay Band system, where employees with different levels of experience or qualifications end up earning similar salaries. This can lead to a lack of motivation for those who have put in the effort to develop their skills and expertise.

It is important for the FDA to address these potential drawbacks and continuously evaluate and improve the Cures Pay Band system to ensure it is fair, transparent, and effective in attracting and retaining talented employees.


The FDA Cures pay band offers a new, flexible pay structure aimed at attracting and retaining top scientific talent at the FDA.

While traditional GS grades are replaced by broad pay bands and salaries can be set higher, the Cures system also comes with complexities like determining individual salaries and transition rules.

Current FDA employees may get opportunities to switch to the Cures pay band, which offers higher pay potential but also more uncertainty. Understanding the ins and outs of this new pay system can help FDA staff determine if transitioning makes sense for their career.

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