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U.S. Department of Justice

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Washington, D.C. 20530

September 11, 2002

MEMORANDUM FOR HEADS OF DEPARTMENT COMPONENTS

FROM:            Robert F. Diegelman
                         Acting Assistant Attorney General for Administration

SUBJECT:      Award Policy for Noncareer Senior Executive Service (SES) and Schedule C Employees

The President has made clear his goal of ensuring that the federal government is citizen-centered, market-based and results-oriented -- virtues that are a natural outflow of good stewardship of taxpayer resources. The principles of performance-based management are reinforced in part by identifying and rewarding superior performance. To that end, pursuant to Office of Personnel Management (OPM) regulations, that have long been in affect, Schedule C and noncareer SES employees are eligible for performance awards. The White House Chief of Staff, in the attached memo, has recently reaffirmed eligibility for performance based awards for these employees. Accordingly, consistent with guidance from OPM and practices undertaken by other government agencies, component heads should consider the eligibility of noncareer SES and Schedule C employees as appropriate for such awards.

The Department policy is one that treats all employees - career and noncareer - equally. Therefore, to be eligible for a cash award, noncareer SES and Schedule C employees must be on a performance work plan for a minimum of 90 days and have a current rating or certification that the employee's performance meets the performance requirements of his/her position (as is required for all career employees). The following guidelines should be applied in order to determine the specific award recommendation for Schedule C or noncareer SES employees.

Employee Award Guidelines Documentation
Schedule C Special Achievement Award for Sustained Superior Performance A lump-sum cash award granted in recognition of the employee's superior performance of assigned tasks for a sustained period of time. One or more important job elements must be performed in a manner clearly exceeding normal requirements. A current performance rating.
Schedule C Special Achievement Award for Special Act or Service A lump-sum cash award in recognition of a special act or service in the public interest in connection with or related to official employment. A written recommendation substantiating the special act or service.
Schedule C Quality Step Increase An additional within grade pay increase in recognition of exceptional performance that is expected to continue. The employee must have the highest performance rating allowed on the appraisal form. A current performance rating.
Noncareer SES Special Achievement Award for Special Act or Service A lump-sum cash award in recognition of a special act or service in the public interest in connection with or related to official employment. A written recommendation substantiating the special act or service.

The Attorney General has retained the authority to approve cash awards for all noncareer SES and Schedule C employees. Generally, Special Achievement Awards (SAAs) for sustained superior performance and Quality Step Increases (QSIs) are given in conjunction with the end of the rating cycle. SAAs for a special act or service may be granted at any time in the rating cycle. SAAs may not exceed 10 percent of the employee's annual rate of basic pay, not counting locality pay or interim geographic adjustments, except that in exceptional cases, an award exceeding 10 percent, up to 20 percent, may be authorized by the Attorney General. All awards in excess of $10,000 must be submitted to the Office of Personnel Management for approval. Either an SAA for sustained superior performance or a QSI, but not both, may be granted for the same period of performance. An employee who has received an SAA for sustained superior performance or QSI is not precluded from receiving an SAA for a special act or service, provided the contribution being recognized has not already been recognized, in whole or in part, by a previously granted SAA or QSI.

The Department's Office of the White House Liaison (WHL) is responsible for reviewing all performance awards for noncareer employees and making recommendations to the Attorney General for final determination. The process will consist of the following steps:

  1. Recommendation / Performance Rating by Supervisor

    The supervisor must complete a performance rating or written justification, as appropriate, for the employee being recommended for a performance award. The rating or written justification substantiating the award will be forwarded to the component head.


  2. Recommendation of Component Head

    If approved, the component head will forward the rating/written justification to the WHL.


  3. WHL Review and Recommendation

    The WHL will review recommendations and make appropriate recommendations to the Attorney General for final determination.


  4. Attorney General Review and Determination

    The Attorney General will review recommendations and make final determinations.


  5. Communication of Attorney General's Decision

    The component head will be notified of the decision. The WHL will coordinate the completion of the award process with the Personnel Staff.


Should you have any questions, please contact Joanne W. Simms, Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Human Resources and Administration at (202) 514-5501. Thank you in advance for your assistance in identifying and rewarding superior performance among the Department's political appointees.

Attachment

cc: David Higbee, Deputy Associate Attorney General and White House Liaison
Susan Richmond, Assistant to the Attorney General and Deputy White House Liaison

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Page created October 4, 2002
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