NASA Workforce Map
Awards and Recognition

Agency Award Programs

Awards ceremonies are held periodically to recognize employees who have made outstanding contributions to the goals of the Agency. Special awards ceremonies are also held during the year when appropriate. Generally, relatives and friends are invited to attend all ceremonies and share in your recognition. Also, the recognition you receive may come in many forms -- certificates, medals, money, time-off, and others. Employees can find additional information on internal awards on the HR Portal.

Agency Honor Awards:  (Any reference to Agency Honor Awards is synonymous with NASA Honor Awards) NASA’s most prestigious honor awards are presented to a number of carefully selected individuals and groups, both Government and non-Government, who have distinguished themselves by making outstanding contributions to the Agency’s mission.  The Incentive Awards Board (IAB) annually requests nominations for the various NASA honor awards.  After rigorous review by Center Review Boards, the nominations are approved by the Center Director or Official in Charge, and are forwarded to the IAB Chair. NASA medals and/or certificates are, subsequently, presented to the award recipients by the Agency’s highest officials at the annual awards ceremonies held at NASA Center. The Call Letter is released annually in the first quarter of the fiscal year.

Congressional Space Medal of Honor: Established by Public Law 91-76, the President, in the name of Congress, may award this Medal to any astronaut who in the performance of his/her duties has distinguished himself/herself by exceptionally meritorious efforts and contributions to the welfare of the Nation and of mankind. The NASA Administrator makes recommendations for this prestigious award, which may be made posthumously, to the President after review and approval by the NASA Incentive Awards Board.

NASA Small Business Awards Programs: The NASA Office of Small Business Programs presents three annual awards: (1) The NASA Small Business Administrator’s Cup Award, (2) The NASA Small Business Advocates Awards (SBAA), and (3) The NASA Small Business Industry Awards (SBIA). The NASA Small Business Administrator's Cup (SBAC) Award recognizes the NASA Center that has the best overall small business program. The purpose of the award is to honor the significant contributions that a NASA Center has made to the Agency's small business program. The NASA Small Business Advocates Awards (SBAA) and Small Business Industry Awards (SBIA) are presented to NASA employees and NASA contractors, respectively, who make significant contributions to the Agency's small business program. These awards recognize successful and innovative practices that promote small business participation in the initiatives that NASA undertakes.

Quality and Safety Achievement Recognition (QASAR) Awards: Sponsored by the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance, this award promotes safety, quality, and continuous improvement throughout NASA. They recognize Government and contractor employees who have displayed or exhibited exemplary performance in contributing to the quality and/or safety of products, services, processes, management programs and activities, or the working environment. The Administrator gives these “Best of the Best” awards at the Annual Continual Improvement and Reinvention Conference to individuals in four categories: Most significant safety or mission assurance (SMA) contribution from within the NASA SMA organization
  1. Most significant safety or quality improvement, service improvement, or initiative from a NASA employee external to the SMA organization
  2. Most significant safety or quality product improvement, service improvement, or initiative from a Government (non-NASA) employee
  3. Most significant safety or quality product improvement, service improvement, or initiative from a NASA prime or subcontractor employee

Senior Executive Service Bonus: The SES bonus is the principal means of recognizing outstanding performance in the executive branch. Since it is used throughout the government, the SES bonus program operates under policies and requirements established by law and regulations set up by the Office of Personnel Management. These requirements dictate the purpose and scope of NASA’s bonus program and establish the minimum standards required for awards.

Space Act Awards: The awards competitions are held by the NASA Inventions and Contributions Board (ICB). These awards recognize and reward outstanding scientific or technical innovations which further the NASA mission. Space Act Awards may be paid to NASA employees, NASA contractor employees, as well as to other government, university, and industry personnel. The Office of General Counsel sponsors and selects the NASA Invention of the Year Award winners, supported by technical assistance and recommendations from the ICB. The ICB also supports the Office of the Chief Engineer, Office of Safety and Mission Assurance, and Office of the Chief Information Officer who co-sponsor the selection of the NASA Software of the Year Award. Innovators may contact their Center Awards Liaison Officer (ALO) who can assist with the procedures for submitting and obtaining Center approvals for nominations.

Suggestion Awards: Suggestions approved for adoption within the originating Center and determined to merit consideration at other NASA Centers , as well as other agencies or departments of the Federal Government, are the responsibility of the originating Center. The originating Center is responsible for identifying other organizations, which may benefit from the suggestion, and should coordinate directly with the appropriate NASA organizations or Centers or other Federal Government agencies. For more information contact your Center Awards Office.