Q: Are contractors eligible for awards?
A: No. Under the Department’s Incentive Award Program, only an individual that meets the definition of “employee” defined by 5 U.S.C. 2105 is eligible to receive monetary or non-monetary awards. In addition, both the law and regulation on awards (listed below) clearly state that only employees that meet this definition are eligible for awards.
The Department’s Incentive Awards Program is designed to recognize employees for their contributions to the organization’s missions and goals. While a contractor may contribute to the successful completion of a specific project, that does not entitle him or her to receive monetary or non-monetary recognition from the Department. The only form of recognition available for contractors is a Certificate of Appreciation. While a contractor may receive this certificate, the organization is prohibited from spending appropriated funds to purchase a presentation holder (i.e., a frame or plaque) or to otherwise expend appropriated funds to acknowledge (i.e., celebrate) a contractor’s completion of a specific project.
5 U.S.C. 2105 - EMPLOYEE
(a) For the purpose of this title, “employee”, except as otherwise provided by this section or when specifically modified, means an officer and an individual who is—
(1) appointed in the civil service by one of the following acting in an official capacity—
(A) the President;
(B) a Member or Members of Congress, or the Congress;
(C) a member of a uniformed service;
(D) an individual who is an employee under this section;
(E) the head of a Government controlled corporation; or
(F) an adjutant general designated by the Secretary concerned under section 709 (c) of title 32;
(2) engaged in the performance of a Federal function under authority of law or an Executive act; and
(3) subject to the supervision of an individual named by paragraph (1) of this subsection while engaged in the performance of the duties of his position.
5 U.S.C. 4501 - DEFINITIONS
For the purpose of this subchapter -
(1) “agency” means—
(A) an Executive agency;
(B) the Library of Congress;
(C) the Office of the Architect of the Capitol;
(D) the Botanic Garden;
(E) the Government Printing Office;
(F) the government of the District of Columbia; and
(G) the United States Sentencing Commission;
but does not include—
(i) the Tennessee Valley Authority; or
(ii) the Central Bank for Cooperatives;
(2) “employee” means -
(A) an employee as defined by section 2105; and
(B) an individual employed by the government of the District of Columbia; and
(3) “Government” means the Government of the United States and the government of the District of Columbia.
5 U.S.C. 4503 – AGENCY AWARDS
The head of an agency may pay a cash award to, and incur necessary expense for the honorary recognition of, an employee who
(1) by his suggestion, invention, superior accomplishment, or other personal effort contributes to the efficiency, economy, or other improvement of Government operations or achieves a significant reduction in paperwork; or
(2) performs a special act or service in the public interest in connection with or related to his official employment.
5 CFR 451.104 - AWARDS
(a) An agency may grant a cash, honorary, or informal recognition award, or grant time-off without charge to leave or loss of pay consistent with chapter 45 of title 5, United States Code, and this part to an employee, as an individual or member of a group, on the basis of
(1) A suggestion, invention, superior accomplishment, productivity gain, or other personal effort that contributes to the efficiency, economy, or other improvement of Government operations or achieves a significant reduction in paperwork;
(2) A special act or service in the public interest in connection with or related to official employment;