SES group: White House keeping mum on award alternatives

Monday - 1/13/2014, 3:27pm EST

SEA's Carol Bonosaro discusses the Presidential Rank Awards on In Depth with Francis Rose.

Download mp3

A group advocating for the 8,000 members of the federal government's Senior Executive Service says the White House is remaining mum on possible alternatives to a prestigious awards program the administration put on hold last year.

Last spring, as across-the-board budget cuts roiled through agencies across government, the White House decided to cancel the monetary portion of the Presidential Rank Awards, which granted recipients as much as 35 percent of their salary in a one-time bonus. But the White House maintained it was "focused on finding means to acknowledge excellence in non-monetary ways."

The Senior Executives Association (SEA), in a statement released Monday, said it still hasn't heard from President Barack Obama on those alternatives.

"To date, it is deeply disappointing that no response has been forthcoming from the administration and, further, that no call for nominations for 2013 has been issued," SEA President Carol Bonosaro said in the statement.

SEA said the President typically approves Rank Award nominations by the end of the fiscal year, which was more than three months ago.

"The administration is missing a superb opportunity to let the American public know the good government — and career civil servants — have accomplished," Bonosaro said.

SEA seeks alternatives

In the absence of monetary awards, the group has requested that Obama host a meeting and photo opportunity with award recipients and allow agencies to recognize recipients in internal ceremonies.

Every year since 1986 award recipients have also been honored with a banquet at the State Department Diplomatic Reception Rooms hosted by SEA's nonprofit Professional Development League. SEA said the banquet will still go forward if its requests are met.

"Implementing the association's recommendations would make clear that the President understands the importance of the career executive service to meeting the administration's program and policy agenda and values the corps' significant contributions to effectively managing the executive branch," the release stated.

In a statement provided to Federal News Radio, Frank Benenati, spokesman for the Office of Management and Budget, said the, "The Administration is committed to recognizing excellence in the Senior Executive Service through the Presidential Rank Awards, and we continue to work to identify non-monetary recognition for those executives recommended for a FY 2013 Presidential Rank Award."

The Presidential Rank Awards have been awarded to SES members for extraordinary service every since 1979.

Last year, the White House awarded 124 senior executives under the program, including 46 "distinguished executives," who were eligible for a 35 percent lump-sum bonus. The recipients were recognized for saving the federal government a combined $94 billion, according to SEA.

As of fiscal 2012, the average salary for an SES member was $166,025.

RELATED STORIES:

White House to SES: No Presidential Rank Awards bonus money in 2013

Presidential Rank Awards still matter even without the cash, OPM says

SESers honored for distinguished service, saving $94B in 2012