OPM restarts awards program for senior executives

Tuesday - 5/13/2014, 1:40pm EDT

The Office of Personnel Management is doing its part to reinstate a prestigious awards program for senior executives in the federal government.

OPM will accept nominations for the 2014 Presidential Rank Awards through June 5, according to a memo to the heads of federal agencies from OPM Director Katherine Archuleta.

Last year, the Obama administration suspended the awards program, which recognizes members of the Senior Executive Service for extraordinary service, citing tight budgets. SES members selected for the awards typically receive between 20-35 percent of their salary in a one-time bonus.

Even as the awards for this year are moving forward, Archuleta, again, reminded agency leaders to "consider the current challenging fiscal conditions and resources needed to meet overall agency mission priorities" when making their nominations.

It's ultimately up to the President to determine if the awards will be conferred, Archuleta said.

It's unclear whether the reinstated awards program will contain a monetary portion. Federal News Radio has requested clarification from both OPM and the Office of Management and Budget.

SEA calls move 'welcome and much needed'

Advocates for the government's ranks of executive employees are cheering OPM's decision to open a call for nominations.

"The reinstatement of the Presidential Rank Awards is welcome and much needed," Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association, said in a statement. "Deserving executives value the once-in-a-career recognition far more than the monetary award. Suspending the awards for 2013 was a morale buster."

The White House last year said it remained open to finding nonmonetary ways to recognize senior executives' service. Earlier this year, SEA said it was still waiting to hear what those alternatives might be.

In a blog post published on OPM's website Tuesday, Archuleta provided a list of SES finalists nominated last year. Because they didn't receive monetary awards, they remain eligible to be renominated this year, she said.

In 2012, 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.

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