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An official website of the United States Government.

Frequently Asked Questions Performance Management

Awards - General

  • Yes. OPM must approve any cash award over $10,000 up to $25,000. Awards over $25,000 must be submitted through OPM for the President's approval. The Department of Defense and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may approve awards up to $25,000.  (SES performance awards and Presidential rank awards for SES and SL/ST employees have their own requirements).
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  • Cash surrogate is a special form of cash award.  Recipients of cash surrogates must have the same freedom and control over how that award may be used as they would have over currency or a U.S. Treasury check. Cash surrogates should not be confused with merchant gift certificates. Cash surrogates must meet the following criteria: meet all the limitations and requirements that apply to cash awards must be convertible easily and immediately to cash not restricted as to where they can be redeemed subject to all relevant procurement regulations when purchased from a vendor or financial institution
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  • OPM has concluded that cash surrogates are an appropriate option for delivering cash awards, subject to all the limitations and requirements that apply to cash awards. A current example of a cash surrogate is "gift cheque" purchased through a vendor and easily and widely redeemable for cash, not merchandise.
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  • No. The awards statute only authorizes granting awards to and recognition of Federal employees. An agency may have other authorities for recognizing the contributions of private citizens.
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  • No. Employees of outside contractors may not receive direct payments from the Federal Government. Their employment, including pay, rewards, and discipline, must be handled by their employer, who is the contractor, not the Government.
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