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White House to Honor 141 Career Executives for Annual Presidential Award

Rank Award winners will receive one-time bonuses worth up to $67,000.

President Trump has recognized 141 Senior Executive Service employees with the annual Presidential Rank Award, which honors a small portion of the federal government’s top career employees for extraordinary performance.  

The winners hail from every Cabinet-level department, as well as NASA, the Arctic Research Commission, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the General Services Administration, the Office of Management and Budget, the Office of Personnel Management and the Social Security Administration. The 141 awardees, which include both SES and Senior Professional staff, is a slight uptick from the 131 employees the White House recognized last year. In 2005, the program honored 278 executives. 

The list of recipients includes 30 Distinguished Executives, three Distinguished Professionals, 84 Meritorious Executives and 13 Meritorious Professionals. Those in the “distinguished” rank will receive a bonus worth 35% of their base salaries (between $45,000 and $67,000), while those in the “meritorious” rank will receive a 20% bonus (between $26,000 and $38,000).  

The distinguished winners represent 1% of the SES workforce, and the meritorious honorees 5%. Previous estimates found an annual crop of executives oversaw a budget of $13 billion and were responsible for cost savings of $650 billion. 

The president has honored top feds with rank awards every year since 1978, except in 2013. In that year, President Obama canceled the awards as agencies were tightening their budgets under a governmentwide sequestration. Obama reinstated the program in 2014. Executives are nominated by their agency heads and reviewed by a board made up of private citizens and approved by the president. The Office of Personnel Management defines recipients as “strong leaders, professionals, and scientists who achieve results and consistently demonstrate strength, integrity, industry and a relentless commitment to excellence in public service.”

The Senior Executives Association will honor the winners at a ceremony in downtown Washington, D.C., on Dec. 17. Francis Collins, director of the National Institutes of Health, will keynote the event. 

“It is our privilege to recognize and honor the extraordinary accomplishments of these senior career federal leaders,” SEA President Bill Valdez said. “The Presidential Rank Award winners exemplify public service leadership principles of integrity, accountability and a passionate focus on delivering mission results to the American taxpayer. This recognition by the president is extended to the many dedicated civil servants who worked hand-in-hand with the 2019 [rank award] honorees to demonstrate that the career civil service is focused on bringing great value to our nation.” 

See the full list of winners here.

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