The reception honoring Presidential Rank Award finalists comes at a good time.


Honoring the finalists, members of the Senior Executive Service (SES), provides a bit of relief during this period of generally low federal employee morale and specifically congressional efforts to curtail the civil service protections and bonuses of senior executives in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

About 100 SES members, including two from the VA, will be honored during the reception, sponsored by the Senior Executives Association Professional Development League,  in the ornate State Department reception rooms Thursday evening.

The finalists were nominated for the 2013 Presidential Distinguished and Meritorious Rank awards, which were suspended by the Obama administration for budgetary reasons. Under federal law, Meritorious Rank Award winners get a monetary prize equal to 20 percent of salary. The monetary prize for Distinguished Rank Award winners is 35 percent. Most senior executive pay ranges from $121,749 to $181,500 a year.

Last month, Office of Personnel Management Director Katherine Archuleta announced the reinstatement of the awards. Nominations for  2014 honorees are due Thursday. The 2013 finalists are eligible to be renominated this year.

Though no individuals will be award winners for 2013, NASA certainly is the big winner among agencies. It is a much smaller organization than many agencies, yet it has far more finalists, 18, than any other agency except the Defense Department.  Defense has 34 finalists. But it also had about  758,000 employees, compared to NASA’s 17,900, according to 2012 OPM data.