Federal Manager's Daily Report

Memo M-19-24 telling agencies to update their policies on employee awards says that recognition programs are “particularly important as agencies address workforce challenges and look for opportunities to reward and recognize high performing employees and those with talent critical to mission achievement.”

The memo, issued jointly by OMB and OPM, says those two agencies “recognize that strategic awards and recognition programs add value to organizations and support the retention of high performing employees and those with mission-critical skill sets.”

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It says that while currently most awards are tied to performance ratings, “We encourage agencies to reexamine, and adjust as appropriate, the balance between rating-based awards and individual contribution awards (e.g., special act awards). When granting rating-based awards, agencies should allocate awards in a manner that provides meaningful distinctions in performance,” consistent with laws, rules and any collective bargaining obligations.

The memo rescinds prior guidance regarding awards programs, except that a 2010 ban against performance awards for political appointees remains in effect, as do prior polices, largely based in law, regarding awards for SES members and other career employees at senior levels.

Issue Brief: OPM Sets New Standards on Performance Ratings