OMB sheds more light on Trump administration’s reboot of federal employee service awards

Federal employees have been tasked with transforming the customer experience at their agencies under the President’s Management Agenda. But less than a year from now, the Trump administration plans to recognize employees who provide outstanding service to their customers.

In a memo released Tuesday, the Office of Management and Budget has shed more light on the administration’s plan to reboot the Federal Customer Service Awards program the Obama administration began in 2015.

Newly branded as the Gears of Government Awards, the program serves as “a way to support and
promote the outstanding work of federal government employees in carrying out their critical
missions,” according to the memo.

“While most Americans will never meet the president or even their member of Congress,
they will interact with the federal employees who work in their community, keep them safe at
airports, or welcome them to a national park,” OMB Director Mick Mulvaney wrote in the memo.

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Mulvaney said the first Gears of Government Awards ceremony will take place in May 2019, and
“may be coordinated to coincide with Public Service Recognition Week.”

Under the Obama-era guidance, federal employees from 15 agencies were eligible to receive the awards. The Trump administration’s reboot of the customer service awards invites all 24 agencies subject to the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act.

Agencies will still give awards out to their employees, who would later be eligible for a presidential-level recognition.

Mulvaney said the President’s Award recipients will be selected by OMB’s Deputy Director for Management Margaret Weichert.

“The President’s Award recipients will receive recognition for their accomplishments during a ceremony at the White House. In addition, recipients will receive a ceremonial award item and will be recognized on a governmentwide website,” the memo said.

The President’s Award is also non-monetary.

The OMB memo says agencies should submit at least two, but no more than 25 employees each year for their own award ceremonies.

According to memo, the program offers individual awards to federal employees whose “specific accomplishments, professionalism, and commitment to mission, service, or stewardship outcomes — either directly or through the three drivers of change — make them a role model for other employees,”  as well as initiative awards for individuals who directly improved services at their agencies through developments in technology or operations.

Much like the preceding program, the Gears of Government Awards doesn’t provide any monetary award for federal employees, but agencies have the discretion to offer monetary incentives to the employees they’ve nominated.

The Trump administration included improving customer experience as one of 14 cross-agency priority (CAP) goals in the President’s Management Agenda that the White House released in March.

Nathan Sanfilippo, a White House leadership fellow at OMB, first announced that the Trump administration would bring back the awards last month at a Forrester summit on improving customer experience in government.