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OPM Seeks To Honor (and Reward) Top-Performing Executives

Flickr user angela n.

The Office of Personnel Management issued a call this week for federal agencies to nominate high-performing senior executives for recognition and bonuses in the Presidential Rank Awards program.

“Federal senior executive employees perform valuable services on behalf of the American public and those with the highest level of sustained performance deserve recognition for their contributions,” wote OPM Acting Director Beth Cobert in opening the nomination process. Nevertheless, she added, “nominees must meet stringent personal and professional standards; therefore, agencies should expect an extremely rigorous review process.”

Cobert also warned agencies to “consider the current challenging fiscal conditions and resources needed to meet overall agency mission priorities in determining the number of nominations to submit.”

Last year, 24 senior executives were awarded the rank of Presidential Distinguished Executive for their performance in 2014, and another 89 were designated as Meritorious Executives. The number of top honorees has steadily declined in recent years: In 2010, 66 executives were awarded the distinguished rank; in 2011 the figure was 54; and in 2012, 46 executives received the top designation.

The Presidential Rank Awards were canceled in 2013 for the first time since their creation in 1978. At the time, Obama administration officials cited concerns about spending money on executive bonuses at a time when agency budgets were subject to sequestration.

Distinguished honorees receive bonuses equal to 35 percent of their annual basic pay, and Meritorious rank recipients receive 20 percent awards. In any given year, only 1 percent of the Senior Executive Service is eligible to receive the rank of Distinguished Executive and 5 percent can be honored as Meritorious Executives.

Photo: Flickr user angela n. 

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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