President Joe Biden selected 230 federal leaders to receive a Presidential Rank Award in 2021, nearly double the usual number of employees recognized.
The Presidential Rank Awards are one of the most prestigious civil service recognitions and come with a 35% of base salary award for Distinguished Rank recipients, who have demonstrated sustained, extraordinary career accomplishments, and a 20% award for Meritorious Rank recipients, who have demonstrated sustained accomplishments.
The awards and their associated monetary bonuses were canceled in 2020, due to the “financial strain facing many Americans during this time,” OPM said at the time, though the agency under the new Biden administration announced early in the year that bringing back the awards would be a priority.
“The resumption of the Presidential Rank Awards reflects the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to support the federal workforce and recognize federal employees who serve with distinction,” said OPM Director Kiran Ahuja in a news release.
“The federal workforce is in the business of achieving the unachievable — from curing disease, to combatting climate change, to landing rovers on the surface of Mars. I am pleased to be lifting up hard-working individuals who consistently demonstrate strength, integrity, industry and a relentless commitment to public service.”
The 2021 awards were also unique in that the process of nominations, reviews and selections were done entirely virtually, a system that OPM said enabled them to expand the PRA review panel outside Washington, D.C. to include a total of 100 members.
Of the 230 Senior Executive Service, Senior-Level and Scientific and Professional employees receiving a PRA, 50 were selected to receive a Distinguished Rank Award and 180 were selected for a Meritorious Rank Award.
The Department of Homeland Security and NASA tied for the highest number of awardees at 26. NASA also had the highest number of awardees in 2018 and 2019.
Jessie Bur covers federal IT and management.