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Merit Award Program

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2101. General Information

The Merit Award Program (MAP) was established by the California Legislature in 1950 as an incentive award system to recognize employee's contributions to state government and its operations.

The Employee Suggestion Program, the Superior/Sustained Accomplishment Nomination, and the Special Act/Special Service Nomination (Medal of Valor) are three separate awards available under the MAP.

All awards are funded by the agency/department that benefit from the idea or nomination.

All state Departments participate and shall designated employee(s) responsible for the MAP activities.

The CalHR, Benefits Division retains overall administrative responsibility for the state's Merit Award Program and serves as liaison in providing information or instruction to individual State Agencies/Departments.

The CalHR, Benefits Division also administers the 25-Year Service and Retirement Awards recognizing state employees who have completed 25 years or more of State service and may or may not be preparing to retire, and recognizes retiring employees who have completed 25-years or more of State service. 

2102. Forms Distribution


2103. Eligibility

All part-time, seasonal, full time or retired employees in agencies/departments are eligible to participate except officers and employees of the Universities of California and California State Universities (CSU). Student assistants hired through the Hornet Foundation at CSU are not eligible. Employees designated Career Executive Assignments (CEA) or Exempt classifications are excluded from receiving a cash award per Merit Award Program Regulations 599.660 (b).  

2104. Participation

Employee Suggestion Program

An ongoing program that rewards state employees for their innovative ideas which result in a direct benefit to the State's operations. Cash awards range from $50 up to $50,000 for implemented suggestions.  To participate, employees submit Form STD. 645 describing/detailing a suggestion that is outside their normal or expected duties. The agency/department to which the employee reports shall determine if the suggestion is eligible in regards to the scope of the employee’s duties.


Superior/Sustained Accomplishment Nomination

A management tool to nominate an employee for an outstanding job performance within their normal duties. Agencies/departments complete Form STD. 278 for each Superior/Sustained Accomplishment award.

The Superior Accomplishment Awards are unlimited nominations, with a cash award for a Silver nomination from $25 up to $250 per individual or team, and/or a Gold nomination from $50 up to $500 per individual or team.

The Sustained Accomplishment Award requires a 24-month evaluation period and nominations are limited within each agency/department.  Awards range from $25 up to $250 per individual or team. Nomination process, approval, funding, certificates or plaques for presentation are the responsibility of the nominating department.


Special Act/Special Service Nomination (Gold/Silver - Medal of Valor)

An honorary award given to those employees who have performed an extraordinary act in saving another individual at great personal risk or safety.  Agencies/departments submit individual nominations on Form CalHR. 012 to the State Merit Award Program at CalHR for final review. A Gold or Silver medal with lapel pin, certificate and citation are presented to the employee by the Governor in a public ceremony. The cost of the medals is reimbursable to the State Merit Award Program. 

2105. Resource Guide

An Evaluator Handbook (PDF) and an Administrator's Handbook (PDF) ​are available through CalHR's Benefits Divisions, Merit Award Program Coordinator.  

2106. Tax Withholding

For tax purposes, payments will be ordinary income in the month that payment is made. Tax withholding rates for this will be Federal Tax, 25.0%; State Tax, 6.6;
PPM Manual Section H 100. 

2107. State controller's office (SCO) Contacts

Questions regarding the Payroll process should be directed to SCO's Personnel/Payroll; Services Division (PPSD) Payroll Liaison Unit (916) 372-7200.

Procedural questions should be directed to the Payroll Procedures Manual Section G 100-105.   

2108. CalHR Contacts

State employees with questions should contact their designated MAP administrator.
Human Resources professionals may contact CalHR.  


Jonathan Calabretta,

(916) 322-1360 

2109. Website

Additional information on the Awards and Merit Award Program is available at CalHR's web site.

  Updated: 8/10/2016
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