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On-The-Spot Award Program Template




This document describes the policies and procedures of the [Insert Office Name] program of On-The-Spot (OTS) Awards.


To recognize employees for their day-to-day efforts that contribute in a special way to getting the job done. Under this non-monetary award program, supervisors may give immediate recognition to recognize and reward employee excellence.


All employees, except those in the Senior Executive Service, are eligible for consideration for awards under this program. Individual and group contributions may be recognized.


An On-the-Spot (OTS) award is granted by supervisors to recognize accomplishments that represent steps toward achievement of organizational goals or purposes, but for which higher-level recognition such as honor awards, performance awards, or superior accomplishment awards are not appropriate. An OTS should not be used in place of paying overtime or compensatory time, and is not meant to replace other traditional methods of recognition, but rather to increase supervisors' options in rewarding and reinforcing employee excellence. Rather than recognizing overall performance, the OTS acknowledges one or more specific instances of exemplary performance. Receipt of an OTS in this program does not preclude the same employee from receiving honorary recognition, a cash award, or a Quality Step Increase based on performance when criteria for such recognition are otherwise met. 


The following are some examples of the types of contributions best suited for an On-The-Spot Award:

  • Completion of a short-term project in less time than expected or where there were unusual difficulties to overcome.
  • Planning a special event which is particularly successful because of the employee’s personal efforts.
  • Handling an unusually heavy workload, such as when co-workers are absent or when vacant positions are not filled immediately.
  • Development of new or revised procedures or other contributions toward improvement of office productivity.
  • Completion of a significant special assignment that is outside of normal job responsibilities.
  • Contributions that enable [Insert Office Name] to make more effective use of its resources.
  • Contributions that improve the public awareness and/or understanding of Department/ [Insert Office Name] programs.
  • Helping a co-worker who has an unusually heavy workload or a crash project.
  • Voluntary participation in support of efforts related to the mission of [Insert Office Name].


Nominations must be submitted by a [Insert Appropriate Title] and approved by the [Insert Title of Approving Official]. 


Merchandise items are divided into three contribution levels: 

Level A 

($50, $100, $150) Recognizes effort beyond normal performance expectations of the job in a given instance. Typically, the employee might exercise initiative by developing a new approach to a task, or might put forth extra effort permitting early completion of a routine project.

Level B

($200, $250, $300) Recognizes a particularly efficient or resourceful effort expended by the employee. Typically, the employee takes the initiative to develop and follow through on a difficult task not specifically required but which results in an immediate benefit to the work unit, or the employee completes an important and particularly difficult assignment in an exemplary manner. Level B is appropriate to recognize an employee who takes extra steps to resolve a troublesome situation or in some special way benefits the work unit.

Level C 

($350, $400, $450, $500) Recognizes exceptional contributions of employees. As an example, the employee may apply original concepts to an unstructured, non-routine assignment, or an employee may perform outstandingly in a crisis situation. Level C is appropriate to recognize an employee’s effort that clearly can be called “going significantly above and beyond the call of duty.” 


The dollar value of an individual merchandise item may not exceed a total of $500. An employee may not receive merchandise items that exceed a total of $1,000 in a single calendar year, including any items received as part of a group. Individual supervisors are responsible for assuring compliance with the $1,000 limitation.


Under this program, a merchandise item is defined as a gift certificate. 

Gift Certificate - Gift certificate to http://www.giftcertificates.com is redeemable online or by phone for original gift certificates to hundreds of popular stores, airlines, hotels, theaters, and restaurants. Paper Gift Certificates are issued in [Insert Dollar Amount] denominations.


The gift certificates are taxable. Taxes are “grossed-up” based on the face value of the gift certificate.


Step 1 The [Insert Appropriate Title] should decide that a contribution is worthy of recognition and determine the award level (A, B or C).

Step 2 The [Insert Appropriate Title] prepares and signs Form CD-326, Recommendation for Recognition. In Block 5, select the dollar amount and award item. In addition, include the total amount year-to-date. The current award amount being recommended is not included in that total. 

Note: An employee, either as an individual or as part of a group, may not receive awards under this program which exceed a total of $1,000 in a single calendar year.

Step 3 Submit an original CD-326 for each employee nominated to [Insert Appropriate Title]. Then forward the request to the [Insert Title of Approving Official] for approval. 

Step 4 Upon approval, the [Insert Appropriate Title] should notify the employee that he or she is the recipient of an OTS award. At that time, the employee may redeem the gift certificate. In all cases, the original of the CD-326 should be hand carried to the [Insert Office Name]. 

Step 5 Within 72 hours of distribution of the gift certificate, the [Insert Office Name] Budget Analysts must forward a copy of the CD-326 to the Director, Office of Human Resources Services, so the award can be entered into National Finance Center (NFC) to account for the taxes.


Upon receipt of the award, the recipient can redeem his/her paper gift certificate online at http://www.giftcertificates.com, or by phone for original merchant gift certificate(s) of their choice. Giftcertificates.com  will send the gift certificate(s) to the award recipient at no charge. 


OTS items will be purchased by the [Insert Title of Approving Official and Office Name]. The [Insert Office Name] will be responsible for keeping a record of the OTS awards distributed and maintain an inventory. All gift certificates will be kept in a secure, locked box. The [Insert Office Name] will conduct a monthly reconciliation of all OTS awards to verify that awards distributed were entered into NFC. The monthly reconciliation reports must be forwarded to the Department’s Incentive Awards Officer. 


There is no limitation on the number of OTS awards that an employee is eligible to receive as long as the dollar limitation is not exceeded.

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[Insert Name of Approving Official]                                    Date 
[Insert Title of Approving Official]