FORT JACKSON, S.C. (Army News Service, June 22, 2007) - From a simple letter of commendation to the President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service, there are many ways to recognize Department of the Army civilian employees for outstanding work.

Awards fall into three categories: monetary, time off and honorary (medals and certificates). The employee's achievements and organization's budget may influence which award is most appropriate.

"The time-off awards tend to be used more considering budgetary constraints," said Kristy Fairman, human resources specialist, Civilian Personnel Advisory Center.

Time-off awards can be up to 40 hours, with a total of 80 hours per leave year.

Monetary awards can range from an on-the-spot award of $50 to $500 to special act or service awards of up to $ 25,000, which requires varying levels of approval.

Performance-based awards normally come in the form of a cash award, time-off award, or step increase, with a maximum of one every 52 weeks, according to Ms. Fairman.

Honorary awards can be used to recognize either a one-time achievement or outstanding service or a period of time. There are more than 10 honorary awards, but the four most common are:

Superior Civilian Service Award For superior service or achievement, or heroism of a lesser degree than that recognized by the Meritorious Civilian Service Award. (Equal to the military Meritorious Service Medal.)

Commander's Award for Civilian Service For performance of duties in an outstanding manner, demonstrating initiative, skill and leadership in performing assigned duties, demonstrating courage or rendering service. (Equal to the military Army Commendation Medal.)

Achievement Medal for Civilian Service For noteworthy achievements that are of lesser degree than that recognized by the Commander's Award for Civilian Service. (Equal to the Army Achievement Medal.)

Certificate of Achievement For accomplishing assigned duties in a commendable manner, demonstrating skill and initiative in devising and improving work methods and procedures; significantly affected employees' morale resulting in improved work performance and esprit de corps; and for personal diligence or initiative.

Honorary awards can be just as important to a civilian employee's advancement as they are to a Soldier's career.

"It is something I would definitely want to highlight on my resume. If I was a hiring official I would definitely look at that; it stands for something and would help bring you to the top when combined with your experience," said Ms. Fairman.

It is the responsibility of the employee's supervisor to start the nomination process by filling out DA Form 1256, "Incentive Award Nomination and Approval Form." The approval level is determined by the level of award. Guidelines for each award are listed in Army Regulation 672-20, "Incentive Awards."

Once approved by the appropriate authority, the DA Form 1256 is sent to the Civilian Personnel Operations Center at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Ala., for processing.

For more information on civilian awards, go to the PERMISS Web site at

(Mike A. Glasch writes for the Fort Jackson "Leader.")