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The President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service

The President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service

Definition and Authorization

The President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service (PADFCS) is the highest honor the Federal Government can grant to a career civilian employee. It is in recognition of exceptional achievements that are of unusual benefit to the Nation. The award consists of an inscribed gold medal suspended from a blue and white ribbon, a lapel rosette made from the ribbon, and a certificate signed by the President. Executive Order 10717, as amended by Executive Orders 10979, 11085, and 12014, authorizes this award. These orders give the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) the authority to establish procedures for submitting nominations for this award and for reviewing and making recommendations on award selections to the President.


Agencies may consider for the PADFCS any Federal employee who has already received the department's or independent agency's highest award. Presidential appointees are not eligible for this award unless, in the opinion of OPM, they are currently serving in a career position.

Nomination Criteria

Agencies may present the award for an employee's best achievements having current impact on improving Government operations or serving the public interest to include one or more of the following:

  1. Imagination in developing creative solutions to problems in Government;
  2. Courage in persevering against great odds and difficulties;
  3. High ability in accomplishing
    1. extraordinary scientific or technological achievement,
    2. providing outstanding leadership in planning, organizing,
    3. directing a major program of unusual importance and complexity, or
    4. performing an extraordinary act of credit to the Government and the country.
  4. Long and distinguished career service.
  5. The importance of the achievements to the Government and to the public interest is so outstanding the employee is deserving of greater public recognition than that which can be accorded by the head of the department or agency in which they are employed.

Achievements should have had at least a national impact.

Agency Responsibilities

Submit written nominations to the Director, OPM, 1900 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20415-0001. The head of the department or independent agency must sign the nomination.

The nomination must contain the following information:

  1. A brief biographical sketch, significant educational background, significant employment record, a specific statement of type of appointment status, current grade level, and other pertinent information.
  2. A proposed citation for the signature of the President. The citation should highlight the significance of the individual's achievements in 2 paragraphs containing 50 to 60 words total.
  3. Additional information as follows:
    1. Summary of achievement.
    2. Details (in non-technical language) illustrating how the nominee was personally responsible for the achievement.
    3. Examples of personal qualities of the nominee which made the achievements possible.
  4. A statement describing any significant awards already received by the nominee that would support the nomination.
  5. A statement that there is nothing in the nominee's background that would embarrass the President.

Agencies must not release any preliminary information about a nomination. Once the President has approved an award, then the nominating agency should provide wide publicity.

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