Federal agencies have received guidance on providing performance awards to members of the Senior Executive Services (SES) and to Senior Level (SL) and Senior Professional and Scientific (ST) employees in FY2017.
This guidance was required in Executive Order 13714, “Strengthening the Senior Executive Service (SES), issued by President Obama Dec. 15, 2015.
A memo containing this guidance was issued to agency heads by Beth Colbert, Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) and Shaun Donovan, Director of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The memo implements limits for total agency spending on individual performance awards as directed by the Executive Order.
For individual rating-based performance awards agencies may spend up to 7.5 percent of the aggregate salaries of their career executives for SES and SL/St employees.
For individual contribution awards (e.g. special act, suggestion, and invention awards), agencies may spend up to 7.5 percent of the aggregate salaries of their career executives for SES and SL/St employees.
Before 2010 there was no agency spending limit on awards to SL/ST employees and the spending limit for SES employee awards was 10 percent for each agency.
A freeze on discretionary awards, bonuses, and similar payments to political employees, set in 2010, will remain in effect.
The OMB/OPM guidance advises agencies to the maintain integrity of its awards programs by allocating awards “in a manner that provides meaningfully greater awards to top performers.” Specifically, the guidance encourages agencies “to use these awards to recognize those senior leaders who take on the most challenging assignments, use exemplary innovative and collaborative methods, take on challenging rotational assignments, and/or have the greatest impact on agency priorities and mission imperatives.”
The guidance also encourages agencies to award time-off and individual contribution awards to recognize accomplishments throughout the year. These awards can be granted even if an employee “is not rated at the highest rating levels.”