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Office of Civilian Personnel

DHS Secretary's Awards Program

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary’s awards recognize the accomplishments of individuals and/or teams of employees throughout the Department. Usually granted on an annual basis, the frequency of these honorary awards is determined solely by DHS. At the discretion of the DHS Secretary, nominations are solicited from across the Department for these awards. Nominations must be approved by the nominee’s supervisory chain of command and the Commandant before being forwarded to DHS for selection. Below is a list of the DHS Secretary’s awards:

  • Secretary’s Award for Exceptional Service (Gold Medal) - This is the highest award for service granted by the Secretary. The award will honor exceptional leadership or service that is distinguished by achievements of unique national or international significance, reflecting great credit on the Department by markedly improving the security of our homeland. The Secretary may present the award to an individual or a group.
  • Secretary’s Meritorious Service Award (Silver Medal) - This award is the second highest award presented by the Secretary and recognizes outstanding leadership, superior public service or unusually significant contributions to strengthening homeland security. It may recognize a body of work regarding remarkable innovation or notable resourcefulness and diligence that improved the effectiveness of one or more DHS missions.
  • Secretary’s Award for Valor - This award is the highest recognition for extraordinary acts of valor occurring either on or off duty. The employee will have demonstrated selfless response by performing courageously in a highly dangerous or life-threatening situation to protect another’s life or to save significant assets or infrastructure from harm. Both civilian and military employees of the Department are eligible for this award.
  • Secretary’s Award for Exemplary Service - This award recognizes exemplary individual service by DHS employees serving in administrative, technical, clerical and general support positions. Employees in support services positions below GS-11 and WG-8 can be nominated for this award.
  • Secretary’s Award for Excellence - This award recognizes achievement or innovation by an individual or team engaged in work to advance the mission of DHS. The work of the nominee(s) may have resulted in superior performance, significant operational improvements or notable innovation in support of DHS missions. A team nomination may be a result of an ongoing or ad hoc team.
  • Secretary’s Award for Outstanding Achievement in Diversity Management - This award recognizes an employee who has excelled in efforts to promote diversity at DHS through outstanding leadership and innovation. It may acknowledge individual efforts exclusively within DHS or with external partners who assist DHS in meeting our commitment to diversity.
  • Secretary’s Award for Volunteer Service - This award recognizes significant contributions by DHS employees who serve as volunteers with non-profit or community service programs or activities. The employee’s contributions should be direct, sustained and have meaningful results for individuals or larger public good.

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Last Modified 1/12/2016