5 CFR § 451.104 - Awards.
(a) An agency may grant a cash, honorary, or informal recognition award, or grant time-off without charge to leave or loss of pay consistent with chapter 45 of title 5, United States Code, and this part to an employee, as an individual or member of a group, on the basis of -
(1) A suggestion, invention, superior accomplishment, productivity gain, or other personal effort that contributes to the efficiency, economy, or other improvement of Government operations or achieves a significant reduction in paperwork;
(2) A special act or service in the public interest in connection with or related to official employment; or
(3) Performance as reflected in the employee's most recent rating of record (as defined in § 430.203 of this chapter), provided that the rating of record is at the fully successful level (or equivalent) or above, except that performance awards may be paid to SES members only under § 534.405 of this chapter and not on the basis of this subpart.
(b) A cash award under this subpart is a lump sum payment and is not basic pay for any purpose.
(c) An award is subject to applicable tax rules, such as withholding.
(d) When an award is approved for -
(1) An employee of another agency, the benefiting agency shall make arrangements to transfer funds to the employing agency to cover the award. If the administrative costs of transferring funds would exceed the amount of the award, the employing agency shall absorb the award costs and pay the award; and
(2) A member of the armed forces for a suggestion, invention, or scientific achievement, arrangements shall be made to transfer funds to the agency having jurisdiction over the member in accordance with E.O. 11438, “Prescribing Procedures Governing Interdepartmental Cash Awards to the Members of the Armed Forces”.
(f) A time-off award granted under this subpart shall not be converted to a cash payment under any circumstances.
(g) When granting an award paid as a percentage of basic pay under 5 U.S.C. 4505a(a)(2), the rate of basic pay used must include any applicable locality payment under 5 CFR part 531, subpart F; special rate supplement under 5 CFR part 530, subpart C; or similar payment or supplement under other legal authority. For an employee receiving a retained rate under 5 CFR part 536, subpart C (or similar authority, such as 5 CFR 359.705), the rate of basic pay is the maximum payable rate for the employee's grade or level, rather than the retained rate.
(h) Programs for granting performance-based cash awards on the basis of a rating of record at the fully successful level (or equivalent) or above, as designed and applied, must make meaningful distinctions based on levels of performance.