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Nature of Action Codes for Reporting Awards to CPDF

Nature of Action Codes for Reporting Awards to CPDF

The Office of Personnel Management is changing the nature of action codes used to report awards data to the Central Personnel Data File. Following is the text of the memorandum communicating these changes to agencies through their Directors of Personnel. Included is the information from the attachment to the memorandum explaining the background behind the changes and what agencies have to do.




To improve the quality of awards data and to make data input to the Central Personnel Data File (CPDF) easier and more reliable, we are changing the CPDF reporting requirements for awards. As you know, even though the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) no longer requires SF-50s for awards, other than SES rank awards, we still require agencies to report their awards data to the CPDF. We developed these changes to the requirements and CPDF codes in conjunction with a working group of agency representatives which you helped us establish.

The principal revision to awards processing involves changing most of the award nature of action codes (NOACs), i.e., the unique numerical codes that identify, for statistical and data processing purposes, particular personnel actions (e.g., appointments, promotions, or awards) that agencies report to the CPDF. In addition, the revisions will simplify reporting requirements by:

  1. completely eliminating two CPDF data elements ("benefit amount" and "individual/group award"), that had proved ineffective for their intended purposes; and
  2. eliminating special legal authority codes used to indicate subcategories of awards.

The new requirements will affect awards that are effective on or after October 1, 2000. We believe this effective date should give agencies sufficient lead time to make necessary changes to their procedures and systems. Please note that these changes should not necessarily affect any of the award programs you already have in place or may be in the process of developing. They only affect the codes that are used to report the awards to CPDF.

An attachment to this memo provides greater detail about these changes and their implications for processing award actions and reporting them to the CPDF. It includes more in-depth explanation about the specific changes, suggestions to facilitate efficient and accurate data input, and a side-by-side comparison of the current and new awards categories with their respective NOACs and a brief explanation of each change. Of course, OPM will issue further reminders, guidance, and instructions to our awards and systems contacts as the effective date draws nearer.

These changes to NOACs, as well as other emerging issues in the awards area (e.g., Fair Labor Standards Act implications of granting discretionary awards vs. non-discretionary awards, accommodating case-by-case waivers of the requirement to pay awards by electronic funds transfer) may well create a need for agencies to redesign award forms and procedures. Staff of the Workforce Compensation and Performance Service's Performance Management and Incentive Awards Division will continue to work with agency awards contacts, and provide appropriate guidance to assist such redesign efforts.

We will notify the appropriate members of the human resources community of these changes and share these materials with them. We all share an interest in streamlining paperwork and increasing the understandability and integrity of the awards data that OPM reports to agencies and, as requested, to OMB, Congress, and the public. We appreciate your willingness to have your representatives work together to assure that sensible solutions are developed to serve all our needs.

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The Current Situation

Changes to Requirements for Reporting Awards to the CPDF

To improve data accuracy and simplify data input, OPM will change the CPDF reporting requirements for awards that are effective on or after October 1, 2000.

The Current Situation: Using Nature of Action Codes, Legal Authority Codes and the "Individual/Group Award" Data Element

Current nature of action codes (NOACs) for reporting incentive awards (other than SES rank awards) granted under chapter 45 of title 5, United States Code, to the Central Personnel Data File (CPDF) are based on the following awards categories:

Performance (Rating-Based) 885
Special Act or Service 877
Suggestion 875
Invention 876
Gainsharing 874
Foreign Language 873
Time Off 872


The changes to these awards NOACs and reporting requirements described here do not affect the required CPDF reporting of SES performance or rank awards. Agencies will continue to report SES awards as usual, using NOAC 878 for SES rank awards and NOAC 879 for SES performance awards. Also, we have not changed CPDF reporting requirements for separation incentive payments or for recruitment or relocation bonuses.

In addition to NOACs, the CPDF lets us use legal authority codes (LACs) and the "individual/group award" data element to break down different types of awards within a single NOAC category. For example, CPDF records with NOAC 877, Special Act or Service Award, can be identified by using a varying combination of LACs and "individual/group award" values as:

  • individual special act awarded by an agency;
  • individual special act awarded by the President;
  • individual on-the-spot award;
  • group special act awarded by an agency;
  • group special act awarded by the President; or
  • group on-the-spot award.

Given the variety of specific awards programs that agencies have implemented, many of these subcategories overlap. As a result, agencies waste time determining which category and codes are correct, and resulting data are not as accurate as they should be. Consequently, in addition to replacing the current nature of action codes 872 - 877 and 885, we have decided to eliminate the legal authority codes used with those NOACs exclusively, as well as two awards-related data elements reported to CPDF (i.e., "benefit amount" and "individual/group award").

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New NOACs for Awards

New NOACs for Awards Effective On or After October 1, 2000

Awards with an effective date of October 1, 2000, or later will be reported to CPDF using new NOACs for eight new awards categories:

840   Individual Cash

841   Group Cash

842   Individual Suggestion/Invention (only those recognized with cash)

843   Group Suggestion/Invention (only those recognized with cash)

844   Foreign Language Awards (always given to individuals as cash; only authorized for law enforcement officers as defined by statute)

845   Travel Savings Incentive (always given to individuals as cash; only allowed in agencies that have established travel savings incentive programs)

846   Individual Time Off

847   Group Time Off

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Information Needed to Determine Correct NOAC

To determine the correct nature of action code, data-input personnel must be able to determine:

  • What is the form of the award—cash or time off?
  • What is the nature of the contribution—was the award given to recognize a suggestion or invention, the use of a foreign language by a law enforcement employee, savings during travel, or was it for something else?
  • What level of performance is being recognized—was the award given to recognize individual performance or group performance?

The following table illustrates how the new awards categories and these three simple questions will make it easier to determine the correct nature of action code.

FormBasis for AwardLevelNew NOAC
CASH Contribution (e.g., superior accomplishment or other personal effort) or Performance Rating Individual NOAC 840
Group NOAC 841
Suggestion or Invention Individual NOAC 842
Group NOAC 843
Foreign Language Individual NOAC 844
Travel Savings Incentive Individual NOAC 845
Contribution (e.g., superior accomplishment, other personal effort, suggestion) or Performance Rating Individual NOAC 846
Group NOAC 847

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Directions About These Changes

  • We eliminated "Special Act" and "Performance" terminology in nature of action codes. (Most awards are given for performance of some kind, at some level, whether it is based on a rating of record or on other work-related contributions.)
  • We will no longer collect data separately for performance awards (i.e., rating-based awards). Report rating-based cash awards as individual cash awards. When you give a time-off award based on a rating of record, report it as an individual time-off award.
  • We will no longer maintain a separate gainsharing category. Report awards granted under group incentive schemes—such as gainsharing and goalsharing—as group cash awards.
  • We will not gather separate information about on-the-spot awards. Report these awards as either individual or group cash awards, whichever applies.
  • We assume that employees receive all travel savings incentives and foreign language awards in cash.

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Comparison Table of Current and New NOACS

Current and New Award NOACs Compared

The following table contains a side-by-side comparison of the current and new awards categories, their respective NOACs, and a brief explanation of each change.

Comparison of Current NOAC and New NOAC Categories for Awards
Current NOAC CategoryNew NOAC CategoryRemarks
Special Act or Service Award
(NOAC 877)

Performance (i.e., Rating-Based) Award
(NOAC 885 )

Individual Cash Award
(NOAC 840)
The award is based on individual contribution/performance. The new NOAC replaces current NOACs for performance awards (i.e., rating-based awards), and the NOAC,"individual/group award" value, and legal authority code combinations that identified individual special act/service awards and on-the-spot awards.
Gainsharing Award
(NOAC 874)

Special Act or Service Award
(NOAC 877)

Group Cash Award
(NOAC 841)
The award is based on group contributions that do not represent suggestions or inventions. The new NOAC replaces the current NOAC and the individual/group award data element that identified group awards for gainsharing, goalsharing, and special act/service awards.
Suggestion Award
(NOAC 875)
Individual Suggestion/Invention Award
(NOAC 842)
We will make no distinction between suggestions and inventions. The new NOACs combine these two types of awards and distinguish between individual and group awards by using the NOAC rather than the individual/group award data element.
Invention Award
(NOAC 876)
Group Suggestion/Invention Award
(NOAC 843)
Foreign Language Award
(NOAC 873 )
Foreign Language Award
(NOAC 844)
Data collection requirements remain the same. This award is only authorized for law enforcement officers as defined by statute.
None Travel Savings Incentives
(NOAC 845)
Only allowed in agencies that have established travel savings incentive programs. This new category includes awards given to employees who achieve travel savings by using personal frequent flyer credits or less expensive hotel accommodations while on official Government travel.
Time-Off Award
(NOAC 872)
Individual Time-Off Award
(NOAC 846)
The award is given to recognize either individual or group achievement.
Group Time-Off Award
(NOAC 847)

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