The nomination process has begun for the annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America medals, considered among the most prestigious awards within the federal workforce.

The Partnership for Public Service announced this week that it will accept nominations for the so-called “Sammie” awards on a special Web site through Jan. 17.

The contest involves medals in categories ranging from Career Achievement to Homeland Security and Law Enforcement, with a selection committee choosing the winners based on three criteria: the impact of their work on meeting the needs of the nation; on-the-job innovation; and commitment to public service.

The highest award, for Federal Employee of the Year, went to an epidemiologist and a genome researcher at the National Institutes of Health who helped stop an outbreak of a deadly bacterium.

The 2014 award finalists will be recognized next spring at a Capitol Hill ceremony during Public Service Recognition Week, while the winners will be honored at a separate event in Washington next fall.

The awards are named after a business leader and philanthropist who founded the Partnership for Public Service, a good-government advocacy group.

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