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Because honorary awards represent symbolic formal recognition, items presented as honorary awards must meet all of the following criteria:
The item must be something that the recipient could reasonably be expected to value, but not something that conveys a sense of monetary value. A basic principle of symbolic awards is that their primary value should be as a form of recognition and not as an object with monetary value. If monetary recognition is intended, the agency should use the explicit authority provided by Congress to grant a cash award. Care also should be taken to consider what the recipient might find attractive, gracious, and complimentary.
The item must have a lasting trophy value. An honorary award that is intended to have abiding symbolic value loses that value if it does not have a lasting form. Consequently, items must be neither intangible nor transitory, such as food or beverages. Vouchers and tickets to events, while technically tangible themselves, do not meet this criterion because they are intended to be redeemed for something that does not have lasting value.
The item must clearly symbolize the employer-employee relationship in some fashion. Affixing, imprinting, or engraving an agency seal or logo on an honorary award item is an obvious way to meet this criterion. However, putting a logo on an item that otherwise has no connection to the employee's work (e.g., a child's toy or sporting equipment) would not meet this criterion. In some cases, adding such a seal or logo might not be practical or necessary to meet this criterion (e.g., a plain desk globe might be appropriate for an employee who handles international matters for the agency). Further, an item that meets this criterion in one agency, because of its mission or the employee's job, might not meet it in another agency (e.g., a desk globe would not be appropriate for an accountant in an agency with no international programs). Consequently, each agency is responsible for determining whether items meet this criterion.
The item must take an appropriate form to be used in the public sector and to be purchased with public funds. Some items may meet the other criteria, but still not be appropriate. For example, it would not be appropriate to purchase a firearm as an honorary award, even to recognize a law enforcement official. Agency officials must take responsibility for assuring that the authority to "incur necessary expense for honorary recognition" is used in a manner that shows good judgment and preserves the credibility and integrity of the Federal Government's awards program.
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