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A quality step increase (QSI) is a faster than normal within-grade increase used to reward a General Schedule (GS) employee who demonstrates high quality performance. A QSI is a change in base pay providing cumulative benefits and is usually considered a higher form of recognition than a performance cash award. Granting of a QSI is no longer attached to the annual appraisal cycle and may be granted at any time during the rating year based upon the eligibility criteria below.