White House Suspends SES Presidential Rank Awards for 2013

Last week the White House announced, via an unnamed administration official quoted in a Wall Street Journal article, that it would be suspending the Presidential Rank Award program for 2013. Presidential Rank Awards are one of the highest honors a civil servant can receive, and they are awarded to only a small fraction of Senior Executive Service (SES) members.

The administration official said that "while the President does not intend to issue any Presidential Rank Awards this year, we are focused on finding means to acknowledge excellence in non-monetary ways."

"The President is committed to recognizing excellence," the administration official said. "However, in light of the reduced budgetary resources, expending funds on employee performance awards at this time would in many circumstances not be the most effective way to protect agency mission to the extent practicable."

Following the establishment of the SES in 1978, each year since 1980 every President has recognized a small group of career Senior Executives and Senior Professionals with the Presidential Rank Award. Award recipients are nominated by their agency heads, evaluated by boards comprised of private citizens, and approved by the President. There are two categories of awards: Distinguished and Meritorious.

The Distinguished Rank is awarded to leaders who achieve extraordinary results, and to no more than one (1) percent of SES or Senior Professional employees. Distinguished Rank recipients receive 35 percent of their rate of annual basic pay. The Meritorious Rank is awarded to leaders for sustained accomplishments, and to no more than five (5) percent of SES or Senior Professional employees. Meritorious Rank recipients receive 20 percent of their rate of annual basic pay. All Rank Awardees receive a framed certificate signed by the President and a pin.

The forty-six (46) Distinguished Rank Award winners for 2012 were credited with saving the federal government over $94 billion.

Carol Bonosaro, president of the Senior Executives Association (SEA), objected to the White House’s decision.

“While we understand the concern for both budget and optics during the sequester, it seems rather short sighted to sacrifice a program designed to encourage and reward excellence in government — especially one which is completely justified given both the accomplishments of the awardees and the savings they secure for government," Bonosaro said in a statement. "At such a challenging time, we need the kind of executives exemplified by the Presidential Rank Awards, and we cannot afford yet another action which chips away at the few remaining attractors for service in the career executive corps."

Posted in General News

Tags: Senior Executive Service, SES, SEA, Presidential Rank Award

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