The federal wage table can be read by selecting the row for the grade (1 to 15), followed by the column for the step in that grade (1 to 10). The number in the cell is the amount in dollars of the salary for an individual at that grade and step.
The Federal Wage System was suggested by President Johnson in 1965 and made law by Congress in 1972. It established a uniform pay system for similar jobs across the federal government and pay rates that are adjusted for the locality in which the work is performed. The locality tables were designed to align federal salaries with private sector salaries in the same area, but the calculation is a difficult one and it is unclear what the proper method of calculation is.
Within grades, there are two ways to move up to the next step. Individuals can receive a Within-Grade Increase (WGI) that moves them to the next step in their grade, thus raising their salary. These WGIs are given based on time in a particular step. There is also a Quality Step Increase, or QSI, which allows for an individual to move up within their grade based on an outstanding performance evaluation.