Employee Recognition and Performance Management

The Incentive Awards Program is designed to improve USDA operations by motivating and rewarding employee excellence in the work force. Timely recognizing outstanding performance and achievement is an essential management responsibility critical to stimulating and sustaining high levels of proficiency and productivity.

USDA has many different ways of recognizing their outstanding performers. We have honorary award ceremonies, such as the Secretary's Honor Awards Program and the Administrator's Awards. We also have various monetary awards, such as performance awards, spot awards, extra effort awards, and time off awards. The Award Program Descriptions will give you a brief description of the different types of awards available. Please be sure to click on Checklist for Completion of Form AD 287-2 for step-by-step instructions on how to correctly complete the AD 287-2. In accordance with 5 CFR 451.103 (c) (2), a written justification for all awards (regardless of amount) in required. We will not be able to process the award without the justification. If you have questions on how to write the award justification, click on Sample Justification for guidance.

Our main Employee Recognition webpage has several links to assist you and keep you updated on the latest policies and regulations.

However if you do not find the information you are looking for, please do not hesitate to contact me via email, Catherine.Baker@wdc.usda.gov or by calling (202) 401-0687.

We look forward to working with you in recognizing our outstanding performers with incentive awards.


Performance Management;

Successful performance appraisal systems require continuous communication between employee and supervisor when defining expectations, providing feedback, discussing progress and rating overall outcomes.

Performance management is the system to define expected performance and evaluate and appraise employee performance. It is also used to make decisions concerning training, within grade increases, promotions, and other performance related actions.

You have a vital role in making the appraisal system work for you.....

If you are approaching the end of 30 days in a new appraisal system, or nearing your first 30 days in a new position, and have not had a performance plan discussion with your supervisor, initiate the meeting!

If you have reached a midpoint in an appraisal cycle (90 days minimum) and your supervisor has not conducted a progress or midyear review, initiate the meeting!

If you have not had an end-of-year rating discussion with your supervisor (by October 31 in most cases), initiate the meeting!

These three components of the appraisal process call for you to take proactive measures for a meaningful dialogue on your performance.


If you want to be more proactive in managing your career, become a "frequent visitor" to this website. Click on the FFAS performance management link below for additional performance management information and forms. And please use the "Comment" link to e-mail any questions, comments, and recommendations for the site to me, Catherine Baker or call me at (202) 401-0687 (v), (202) 205-9057(TTY).