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Merit Award Program

The Merit Award Program was established by the California Legislature in 1950 as an incentive award system to recognize employee contributions to state government. The program is authorized for all state departments in which each department provides funding and has a Merit Award Administrator who is responsible for program activities. The Merit Award Program is comprised of four awards:

Governor's State Employee Medal of Valor Award

The Governor’s State Employee Medal of Valor Award began in 1958 and is the highest honor California bestows upon its employees who risked their lives to save others or state property. There are two categories of awards:

Special Act Award (Gold Medal)

For an extraordinary act of heroism by a state employee extending far above and beyond the normal call of duty or service, performed at great risk to his or her own life in an effort to save human life.

Special Service Award (Silver Medal)

For an act of heroism by a state employee extending above and beyond the normal call of duty or service performed at personal risk to his or her safety to save human life or state property.

Nomination Process

  • The department nominator reviews the Medal of Valor Nomination webpage for instructions.
  • If the heroic act or service meets criteria, the department nominator completes the Governor’s State Employee Medal of Valor Special Act/Special Service Award Nomination (CalHR-012).
  • Once completed, the department nominator submits the nomination to their departmental Merit Award Administrator (MAA).
  • The MAA reviews the nomination for completeness, and if necessary, requests additional documentation from the nominator.
  • The MAA then forwards the finalized nomination to the department director/department head for approval and signature.
  • Once signed, the MAA submits the completed nomination, including all substantiation, to the CalHR Merit Award Program prior to the annual deadline, the Friday after Labor Day in September.
  • The CalHR Merit Award Program reviews the nomination for completeness. If necessary, additional documentation is requested.
  • Once the nomination is deemed complete, it is reviewed by the State Merit Award Board (Board).
  • The Board provides a recommendation to the CalHR Director who makes a final determination.
  • The nominating department is then notified of the determination, and ceremony planning commences.

Award Ceremony

The CalHR Merit Award Program coordinates the award ceremony with the Governor’s Office and participating departments. ​

Past Medal of Valor Awardees

To search for awardees by department, last name, first name, or year awarded, please visit medalofvalor.ca.gov.

Authority

 

More Information

For more information, please contact your departmental Merit Award Administrator or the CalHR Merit Award Program.

Superior Accomplishment and Sustained Superior Accomplishment Awards

The Superior Accomplishment and Sustained Superior Accomplishment Awards are for performance resulting in exceptional contribution to state government. Many state agencies hold an annual awards ceremony to acknowledge outstanding employees and increase employee engagement. Specific areas of accomplishment may include, but are not limited to:

  • An outstanding and superior achievement.
  • An important contribution to science or research.
  • An unequaled personal effort in overcoming unusual difficulties or obstacles.
  • The completion of an assigned task in a significantly shorter period of time than was deemed possible.
  • A major improvement in methods, organization, procedures, or products (which make an exceptional contribution to the efficiency or economy of the state or an exceptional improvement in its operations.

All employees except agency heads or elective constitutional officers may receive these awards. Nominations for either the Superior Accomplishment Award or the Sustained Superior Accomplishment Award are to be submitted on the Superior Accomplishment Gift or Cash Award Recommendation (STD-278) and must be signed by the department director/department head.

​Superior Accomplishment Award

The Superior Accomplishment Award is for a performance by an individual or group which results in an exceptional contribution to state government. There are two categories of Superior Accomplishment Awards:

​​Gold Award

For a gold award, departments may issue one or both of the following to an individual or group:

  • Engraved walnut plaque or certificate
  • Cash or gift award

Cash awards for an individual or group range from $50 to $500. Departments have the option of providing cash or equivalent gift awards. Departments are responsible for the design, purchase, and printing of certificates. Note: It would be rare for a group of individuals to receive a gold award as this award is of such prominent degree that it merits recognition of the highest order.

Silver Award

For a silver award, departments may issue one or both of the following to an individual or group:

  • Engraved walnut plaque or certificate
  • Cash or gift award

Cash awards for an individual or group member range from $25 to $250. Departments have the option of providing cash or equivalent gift awards. Departments are responsible for the design, purchase, and printing of certificates.

​Sustained Superior Accomplishment Award

The Sustained Superior Accomplishment Award is for an individual or group who sustained superior job performance over a 24-month period, resulting in an exceptional contribution to state government. The maximum standard for this award is one nomination per 100 employees for each department.

Departments may issue one or both of the following to an individual or group:

  • Framed certificate
  • Cash or gift award

Cash awards for an individual or group member ranges from $25 to $250. Departments have the option of providing cash or equivalent gift awards. Departments are responsible for the design, purchase, and printing of certificates.

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More Information

For more information, please contact your departmental Merit Award Administrator or the CalHR Merit Award Program.

25-Year Service and 25-Year Retirement Awards

The 25-Year Service and 25-Year Retirement Awards were established by the Legislature to recognize state employees who have completed 25-years or more of state service.

  • Departments may purchase mementos for eligible employees directly from the State Price Schedule service provider, MTM Recognition. Contact information below.
  • State employees with questions about purchasing awards or their service and retirement award status should contact their Human Resources Office or departmental Merit Award Administrator.
  • Human Resources professionals may contact the CalHR Merit Award Program for additional information.

All state employees are eligible for the two categories of awards:

​25-Yea​​​r Service Award

The 25-Year Service Award recognizes employees who have completed 25 years of state service. Departments may present a certificate, plaque, or other suitable memento to state employees with 25-years of completed state service, however the cost may not exceed $125 plus tax.

25-Year Retirement Award

The 25-Year Retirement Award recognizes retiring employees who have completed 25 years or more of state service upon retirement. Departments may make a presentation to a retiring employee who, on the date of their retirement, has completed 25 or more years of state service, however the cost may not exceed $125 plus tax.

Procurement Information

MTM Recognition is the State Price Schedule service provider. Departments may utilize their Core Item and Non-Core Item catalogues to fulfill procurement orders (see below). At the department’s discretion, employees may purchase a gift that is a Non-Core Item, including those above the $125 threshold. The State of California will be responsible for the first $125 (plus the tax on $125). The employee is responsible for the balance. At the time of order, it is the employee’s responsibility to pay anything above and beyond the $125 plus tax. No order will be officially placed until the employee’s portion is paid in full. The state’s portion of the payment will be standard state terms.

MTM Recognition State Price Schedule detials may be found on Cal eProcure, by searching Contract ID 2-21-84-14A.

MTM Recognition Gift Catalogs 

    • Visit the MTM Recognition website to view the Core and Non-Core award catalogs
    • To access Core awards, click on the “25-Year” and “Retirement” links on the left of the page below the “Core” heading.
    • To access Non-Core awards, click on the “Non-Core” links (L1 through L5) on the left of the page below the “Non-Core” headings.

For questions or concerns contact:
Bryan Mular, MTM Recognition Customer Care Associate
bmular@mtmrecognition.com |  (877) 495-1011

Frequently Asked Questions

Can an employee who has completed 25 years of state service and plans on retiring, regardless of the time between the two events, receive both a 25-Year Service Award and 25-Year Retirement Award?

Yes. There is nothing in the current law that indicates an employee must choose between the 25-Year Service Award and Retirement Award.

Can a retiring employee who has completed 25 years of state service combine the 25-Year Service Award and 25-Year Retirement Award and purchase a $250 gift?

No. These are two separate awards.

Can an employee receive the appropriated $125 in cash?

No. The law states “a certificate, plaque, or other suitable memento.” Cash is not considered a “suitable memento” since the definition of memento is “a reminder or a souvenir.”

Does a department have to purchase a gift from the State Price Schedule service provider?

No, it is not mandatory to purchase a gift from the State Price Schedule service provider although it is highly recommended.

Can an employee who is retiring and does not have 25 years of state service purchase a retirement award at their own expense?

No. This award is in recognition of 25 years or more of state service.

Can an employee with 23 years of state service qualify for the 25-Year Service Award and/or 25-Year Retirement Award if they previously purchased two years of service credit for retirement purposes?

No. Awards are based on qualifying months of state service.

If an employee transfers to a new department, can they still receive a 25-Year Service Award from the new department?

Yes. The new department would provide the 25-Year Service Award.

What is the difference between the Core items and the Non-Core items?

Core items are those most commonly purchased by departments for their employees and include watches, clocks, vases, etc. MTM Recognition also offers additional Non-Core items for purchase. The Core items do not exceed $125. The Non-Core items vary in price.

Can an employee choose a gift from the Non-Core items?

Each department may establish their own internal policy for ordering awards. Please check with your departmental Merit Award Administrator or Human Resources Office.

If my department allows it and I choose a gift from the Non-Core items that exceeds $125, how do I pay for it?

The State of California is responsible for the first $125, plus the tax on the $125. The employee is responsible for the balance. Employees may contact their departmental Merit Award Administrator or Human Resources Office for further details.

Is there a time limit for purchasing a 25-Year Retirement Award?

There are no time restrictions in the law; departments may establish reasonable time limits for their retiring employees.

What is the turnaround time when an award is ordered?

The normal turn-around time for MTM Recognition is three weeks. If a shorter turn-around time is required, please contact Bryan Mular, MTM Recognition Customer Care Associate.

My CalPERS statement shows a different amount of service time than the State Controller’s Office. Why?

Service years are based on qualifying months of state service as indicated by the State Controller’s Office. The State Controller’s Office and CalPERS calculate service time differently.

Authority

More Information

If you have any issues or concerns to report about a product purchased from the State Price Schedule service provider, please contact your departmental Merit Award Administrator or Human Resources Office. Award administration inquires may be directed to the CalHR Merit Award Program.

Robert L Negri Human Resources Achievement Award

The Robert L. Negri Human Resources Achievement Award is presented to a state employee or organizational group for outstanding performance and achievement in the field of human resources. 

Nomination Process

Nominations must be submitted on the Robert L. Negri Human Resources Achievement Award Nomination form (CalHR 601) to the CalHR Merit Award Program for consideration. Nominations should clearly identify and support the nominee’s qualifications in the following areas:

  • Dedication to excellence in the field of human resources.
  • Outstanding customer service to the state, department and/or employee(s).
  • Excellent performance and achievements in the field of human resources.

Authority

More Information

For more information, please contact the CalHR Merit Award Program.

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