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Performance management handbook (recognition) - chapter 7

Chapter 7. Special Recognition

Presidential Recognition

The President may grant a cash award for honorary recognition of an employee who:

  • By his or her superior accomplishment, suggestion, invention, or other personal effort contributes to the efficiency, economy, or improvement of Government operations; or 
  • Performs an exceptionally meritorious special act or service in the public interest in connection with or related to his or her official employment. 

A Presidential Award, authorized under 5 U.S.C. 4504, may be in addition to an agency award.

Career Service Recognition

Career service recognition is granted to employees who complete 10 years of federal service, and thereafter at 5-year intervals up to 50 years of service. This policy was issued April 8, 1992, and is not retroactive for employees who reached their career milestone before that date.

Creditable service is determined by using the service computation date for leave purposes, which includes total civilian service and some honorable military service.

Retired uniformed service time may be combined with civilian service time for purposes of computing length of service. It is the responsibility of the employee to present the appropriate official documentation from prior Uniformed Service to the appropriate official overseeing this program. 

The Department recognizes career service with a certificate and emblem:

  • Bronze Certificate and Emblem (10 and 15 years); 
  • Silver Certificate and Emblem (20 and 25 years); 
  • Gold Certificate and Emblem (30, 35, 40, 45, and 50 years). 

The Secretary signs 50-year certificates. In addition, operating units may request a letter from the President for career service which exceeds 50 years. 

Service emblems are available through the GSA supply system.

Honorary Recognition - Private Citizens and Organizations

A certificate of appreciation may be granted in recognition of special services or other beneficial contributions to the Department. Examples of the types of actions or contributions appropriate for this award may include:

  • Exemplary service in an advisory capacity to the Department's programs or projects; 
  • Direct assistance to the Department through actions or useful ideas which are beneficial in eliminating or minimizing problems or in actively contributing to mission accomplishment; 
  • Assistance to the Government through the cooperative use of facilities, equipment, or staff; or 
  • Courageous or heroic actions in support of a federal activity or mission.

Special Operating Unit Awards

Individual operating units may establish new award programs which are appropriate to their particular interests in recognizing certain groups of employees. There are a large variety of programs, ranging from recognition for scientific accomplishments to employee of the year. These award programs may be cash or honorary. Each program is designed to recognize a particular group of individuals with specific criteria. If you have additional questions on how to develop an award program, contact that bureau's Human Resources Office. 

Related Sites

  • Appendix D - Template for developing an award program 
  • Chapter 14 - How to establish a certificate for an award program