U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, DC 20590
|Personnel Management Manual: Part 1, Chapter 9: Awards and Employee Recognition, Section 1: General|
||June 28, 1996
- Approval Authority
- Nominating Criteria
- Factors to Consider in Granting Quality Step Increases
- Factors to Consider in Granting Cash Awards for Special Acts
- Factors to Consider when Granting Time-off Awards for Special Acts
- Factors to Consider When Granting On-the-Spot Awards
- Factors to Consider When Granting Honor Awards
- Factors to Consider When Developing Inventive Incentive Programs
- Procedures for Granting Awards
- Awards to Members of Other Organizations
- Death or Separation of an Employee
- Communication to Employees
- PURPOSE. To provide guidelines, standards, and procedures for the
use of all incentive awards, except suggestions, in recognizing employee accomplishments,
contributions, and efforts within the Federal Highway Administration.
Departmental Personnel Manual, Chapter 451
Title 5, United States Code, Sections 4501 - 4507 and 5407, and
Title 5, Code of Federal Regulations, Parts 451 and 31.
- OBJECTIVE. FHWA recognizes that awards can be an effective tool to
improve operations, increase productivity, achieve the agency's quality
goals and initiatives, and improve service to the public. There are many ways
to acknowledge an employee accomplishment or effort. Letters of appreciation,
or a verbal thank you given to an employee in the presence of peers are equally
effective methods of recognizing employee efforts. The important point is to
take the time to do it. Employees need to know that their special efforts are appreciated.
AWARD - Something bestowed or action taken to recognize and reward
individual or team achievement that contributes to meeting organizational goals
or improving the efficiency, effectiveness, and economy of the Government or
is otherwise in the public interest. Awards can take the form of cash, honor,
inventive incentive, or time off without charge to leave or loss
of pay and can be given to an employee as an individual or as a member of a group.
Within FHWA, an employee can receive:
PERFORMANCE AWARD - A lump-sum cash payment granted to an individual
employee based on his or her annual performance rating. See Section 3 of this chapter.
QUALITY STEP INCREASE (QSI) - a within grade salary increase granted
to a GS employee who displays continuing outstanding performance. QSI's
are in addition to regular within-grade increases.
CASH AWARD FOR SPECIAL ACT OR SERVICE - a one time lump-sum cash payment
for a non-recurring contribution either within or outside of job responsibilities;
a scientific achievement; or an act of heroism. The contribution provides tangible
or intangible benefits to the federal government.
SUGGESTION AWARD - an award granted in recognition of a suggestion or
a proposed solution to a problem designed to save money, manpower, materials,
equipment, or supplies; or which contributes directly to the productivity, economy
efficiency, or effectiveness of carrying out a program or mission of the Federal
Government. For additional information, see the Employee Suggestion
Program brochure and the Suggestion Evaluator's Manual.
HONOR AWARD - an award granted in recognition of sustained high level
achievement or in recognition of continued Federal service.
INVENTIVE INCENTIVE - an item of an honorary nature which can be worn
or displayed and can be given by employees through their supervisors to other
employees in the organization.
TIME-OFF AWARD - an excused absence granted to an employee in recognition
of a special act or service or other personal effort that contributes to the
quality, efficiency, or economy of the agency's operations.
TEAM ACHIEVEMENT AWARD - an award given to a group of employees from various units within FHWA.
- APPROVAL AUTHORITY.
- The Office of the Secretary:
Approves all monetary awards for Schedule C employees and employees in the Senior Executive Service.
Concurs in all award recommendations of $10,000 up to $25,000. These recommendations
will be forwarded to OST for concurrence prior to forwarding to the Office of Personnel Management for approval.
- The Office of the Administrator:
Approves all Team Achievement Awards, Individual or Group/Team Awards between
$9,500 and $10,000. Recommends to the Secretary the approval of any award
for an SES employee or concurrence in any award in excess of $10,000.
- Unit Managers:
Approve all group/team awards up to $9,500, or individual awards up to $4,000.
Approve all Time-Off awards. NOTE: An employee may not receive more than
40 hours in one Time-Off Award and no more than a total of 80 hours in Time-Off
Awards in one calendar year.
These authorities may be redelegated by the Unit Managers to appropriate
Incentive Award Pool Managers. However, each Unit Manager must ensure that
appropriate financial controls are in place.
- First Level Supervisors:
Approve On-the-Spot Awards. The maximum monetary amount of a cash On-the-Spot
Award is $200. These may be given in increments of $50. An employee can receive
no more than two cash On-the-Spot Awards in a year. The maximum for a Time-Off
On-the-Spot Award is the equivalent of one work day.
NOTE: On-the-Spot Awards may be a combination
of Time-Off and money. However, the combination must not have a prorated value
which exceeds one workday or $200. e.g. An employee can receive a time-off award
of $100 and a half day of time-off.
- NOMINATING CRITERIA. Nominating criteria for each of these awards
are included in the following charts at the end of this chapter:
Chart 1: Secretary's Honor Awards
Chart 2: FHWA Administrator's Honor Awards
Chart 3: Awards for Special Acts or Service
Chart 4: Other Special FHWA Awards
- FACTORS TO CONSIDER IN GRANTING QUALITY STEP INCREASES.
Quality Step Increases (QSI) are meant to recognize outstanding performance
with faster than usual within grade increases. Because QSIs are permanent increases
to base pay and can be an addition to any performance award an employee receives,
managers are reminded that the justification for the QSI must support the conclusion
that the highest quality of work is characteristic of the employee's performance
and is expected to last into the future.
- FACTORS TO CONSIDER IN GRANTING CASH AWARDS FOR SPECIAL ACTS.
- A cash award for a special act should be based on the tangible and intangible
benefits the agency realizes from the contribution and on whether the contribution
is within or outside of the requirements of the position.
- Recommendations for cash awards for special acts may be made at any time,
however, in order to quickly recognize employee contributions, we recommend
that the nomination be submitted no later than 3 months after the completion of the act.
- Employees can receive any number of cash awards for special acts, providing
each award is for a separate act.
- In determining if an employee's contribution is so superior or meritorious
that it warrants special recognition with an award, a supervisor must consider:
(1) the importance or significance of the contribution to the organization;
(2) the amount of independent thought or unusual insight, imagination or effort involved;
(3) the impact or benefits derived from the contribution; and
(4) any other forms of compensation the employee may receive, such as a performance award.
- When a contribution is within job requirements, the award amount should
be reduced significantly from what the award would have been had the contribution
been clearly outside of job responsibilities, in recognition of the fact that
the employee has already been compensated in part for the contribution through
the normal salary process.
- The following criteria are offered to assist in measuring the contribution
against normal job responsibilities:
(1) is the contribution creative?
(2) is the contribution unusual for the grade level?
(3) does the contribution represent a new concept or an innovation with significant benefits?
(4) does the employee or the team have the authority to put the contribution into effect?
(5) is the contribution beneficial to other agencies?
- Tangible Benefits - Every effort should be made to determine tangible
benefits resulting from employee contributions. If the contributions with
tangible benefits are not outside of job responsibilities, the award amount
should be reduced. Tangible benefits can be calculated or estimated when contributions:
(1) conserve staffing resources, material, time or space;
(2) eliminate unnecessary processes; or
(3) improve existing methods.
The following chart should be used as guidance in determining cash awards
based on contributions with tangible benefits:
TANGIBLE BENEFITS GUIDANCE
|Estimated First-Year Benefits to Government
||Amount of Award
|Up to $10,000
||10% of estimated benefits
|$10,000 - $100,000
||$1,000 for the first $10,000 plus 3% of estimated benefits over $10,000.
|$100,001 or more
||$3,700 for the first $100,000 plus .5% of estimated benefits over $100,000.
- Intangible Benefits - When benefits cannot be measured, the award must
be based on an assessment of the intangible benefits to the agency such as contributions:
(1) which improve the state of the art in engineering or science or;
(2) which provide a service to the public.
- Awards based on contributions with intangible benefits will be comparable
as far as practicable with awards based on tangible benefits. When an award
is based on a contribution with both tangible and intangible benefits, the
amount of the award is based on the total value of the contribution to the
government. Normally, award amounts will be based on the estimated first year
benefits to the FHWA. However, where a phase in period occurs, the average
annual savings over a three year period may be used.
- FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN GRANTING TIME-OFF AWARDS FOR SPECIAL ACTS.
- Time off from duty as an incentive award may be authorized for full-time
employees in installments of up to 40 hours for a single award, with a maximum
of 80 hours awarded in a given leave year. Awards for part-time employees
may be granted on a pro-rata basis, with a single award of no more than the
number of hours worked during an average work week, and an annual maximum
that does not exceed the number of hours normally worked during a biweekly
pay period. For example, an employee with a part-time tour of 32 hours a week
may receive up to 64 hours in a leave year, with a single award maximum of 32 hours.
- Time-Off and cash awards may be combined to recognize an employee accomplishment
or effort. For equivalency purposes, $25.00 will equate to one hour of time-off-from-duty.
- Time-Off granted must be used within one year of the date of the award.
Time-Off awards do not convert to cash under any circumstances. Any Time-Off
Award not used, will be lost. When physical incapacitation for duty occurs
during the time off period, sick leave may be substituted for the period of
incapacitation and the award time rescheduled.
- Managers are reminded to carefully consider the employee's circumstances
when making a decision concerning whether to give a time-off or a cash award.
Some employees who are just starting to work may appreciate the time off because
it will help them to build up their leave balances. Whereas an employee with
a number of years of service who has had the time to build up their leave
may appreciate a cash special act award.
- FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN GRANTING ON-THE-SPOT AWARDS.
- An On-the-Spot Award is meant to recognize a small individual employee
achievement. It cannot be used to recognize group or team achievements. If
a team of employees work on a project and their individual contributions are
worthy of a small cash or time-off award, remember that although the money
for each employee may be small, the award is meant to recognize the team's
accomplishment and should be documented as such.
- On-the-Spot Awards require a minimum of documentation and may be approved
by the first level supervisor. Employees can receive no more than two cash
On-the-Spot Awards in a year. However, the number of Time-Off On-the-Spot
Awards is only limited by the total number of hours that can be given in a year.
- FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN GRANTING HONOR AWARDS.
- Honor awards within the Department of Transportation are meant either
to recognize long term contributions to agency initiatives or an exceptionally
outstanding contribution with national or international scope.
- Honor awards should not be used for retirement recognition.
- FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN DEVELOPING INVENTIVE INCENTIVE PROGRAMS.
- Inventive Incentives are items of an honorary nature which can be worn
or displayed by the employee. It is desirable that the item bear the organization's
logo or an appropriate slogan.
- Unit Managers are authorized to establish inventive incentive programs
which will suit the special circumstances of the organization. This authority
should be redelegated to the lowest practical level. Managers should actively
encourage employee input in developing inventive incentive programs. In order
to ensure long term employee interest in the program,managers should continually
develop new and different recognition items.
- Each organization will have the responsibility for developing, naming
and coordinating its own inventive incentive program.
- Managers and supervisors are encouraged to make public presentations
of inventive incentives. Funding for inventive incentives shall be paid from
the funds available to the organization approving the award.
- PROCEDURES FOR GRANTING AWARDS.
- Cash and Time-Off Special Act Awards
(1) Award recommendations should be initiated by the first level
supervisor on FHWA-1156, Recommendation for Quality Step Increase, Special
Act or Honor Award. Recommendations should be submitted through appropriate
channels to the approving official. The following award recommendations
should be submitted to the Director, Office of Personnel and Training for appropriate action:
(a) award recommendations in excess of $9,500;
(b) cross organizational line team award recommendations; or
(c) award recommendations for SES employees.
(2) Approving officials should review each recommendation to ensure that the justification:
(a) highlights the importance of the contribution to the organization;
(b) explains if the accomplishment or effort is within or outside of job requirements;
(c) fully discusses the level of effort expended (any
difficulties or problems that had to be overcome; and
(d) fully supports the recommended award amount.
(3) If an approving official has a question about the appropriateness
of an award recommendation, the servicing personnel officer is available to provide advice and assistance.
(4) Approved copies of the FHWA-1156 should be forwarded to the
appropriate servicing personnel office for processing. The employee will
receive an SF-50 documenting the award.
(5) On-the-Spot Awards can be approved by the first level supervisor
on an FHWA-1156 or in a memorandum. The documentation procedure used, (i.e.
form FHWA-1156 or memorandum), must provide an explanation of the accomplishment being recognized.
- Quality Step Increases - Recommendations for Quality Step Increases
should be documented on FHWA-1156, Request for Quality Step Increase, Cash
or Honor Award. A copy of the approved Outstanding performance rating should
be attached. The justification for the Outstanding performance rating will
provide much of the information needed to support a QSI. However, supervisors
are reminded that the justification for the QSI must support the conclusion
that this high level of performance will continue into the future.
- AWARDS TO MEMBERS OF OTHER ORGANIZATIONS.
- Cash awards will be paid from the funds available to the activity primarily
benefitting from the contribution. If an organization elects to give a cash
award to an employee of another organization, it must ensure that the supervisor
of the employee is aware of the award prior to its submission to the personnel office for processing.
- If the employee recommended for the award works for another Federal agency,
the approving official must work with the servicing personnel office to assure
the transfer of funds to that organization.
- The granting of Time-Off Awards to employees of other organizations is
not recommended. The prior approval of the organization where the employee
works, must be obtained in order to grant a Time-Off Award. The reason for
this control is to prevent scheduling conflicts, issues and related problems.
- DEATH OR SEPARATION OF AN EMPLOYEE.
A cash award for a special act may be granted notwithstanding death or separation
from the Federal service of an employee, provided the effort for which the award
is proposed was made or performed while the person was an employee of the FHWA.
(The award will be paid to the surviving member of the family.) QSI's or
Time-Off Awards cannot be made in these situations.
- COMMUNICATION TO EMPLOYEES.
The documentation in support of an award recommendation is privileged information,
made available only to those involved in the decision making process and certain
officials on a need-to-know basis. As a general rule, nominating officials should
not discuss an award with nominees until the award has been approved. Immediately
after the award has been approved, the supervisor should publicly present the
award at an appropriate ceremony, attended by supervisors and peers. The presentation
should include a brief statement of specific reasons why the employee's
contribution merited recognition, including its impact on the organization.
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