|Personnel Management Manual
Chapter 9: Awards and Employee Recognition
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
(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.
(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?
(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.|
(1) which improve the state of the art in engineering or science or;
(2) which provide a service to the public.
(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.
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.
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.