Program Overview and History

Program Overview and History

Federal employees are responsible for many noteworthy and inspiring accomplishments that are seldom recognized or celebrated. The Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals highlight excellence in our federal workforce and inspire other talented and dedicated individuals to go into public service.


The Sammies, known as the “Oscars” of government service, are a highly respected honor with a rigorous selection process. Named for the Partnership for Public Service’s late founder who was inspired by President Kennedy’s call to serve in 1963, these awards align with his vision of a dynamic and innovative federal workforce that meets the needs of the American people.

The Partnership is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to help make our government more effective, and the Sammies honorees represent the many exceptional federal workers who are doing just that—breaking down barriers, overcoming huge challenges and getting results. Whether they’re defending the homeland, protecting the environment, ensuring public safety, making scientific and medical discoveries, or responding to natural and man-made disasters, these men and women put service before self and make a lasting difference.

Samuel J. Heyman believed that “the future of our nation quite simply depends on the quality of our government.” The Sammies are the Partnership’s way of showing the world the many ways our government is making our country better, safer and stronger.

In 2019, the Partnership for Public Service proudly named the Service to America Career Achievement Medal for Paul A. Volcker in recognition of his nearly three decades of distinguished federal service. The new Paul A. Volcker Career Achievement Medal, made possible through the generous support of Ray and Barbara Dalio, recognizes federal employees who have led significant and sustained achievements over 20 or more years of service in government. Click here to read more and watch a short video about this remarkable public servant.

Medal Categories

Federal Employee of the Year

This award recognizes a federal employee whose professional contributions exemplify the highest attributes of public service.

Special Guidelines:
This award is chosen by the Sammies Selection Committee from among the group of finalists. We do not accept nominations directly for this category.

See Past Honorees
Paul A. Volcker Career Achievement

This medal recognizes a federal employee who has led significant and sustained achievements during 20 or more years of public service.

Special Eligibility Criteria:
Nominee must have worked in public service for at least 20 years as of January 1 during the current nomination cycle.

See Past Honorees
Emerging Leaders

This nomination category is offered to encourage special consideration for young federal employees who have made an important contribution early in their professional career. Selected finalists will be assigned to other medal categories according to the nature of their work and accomplishments.

Special Eligibility Criteria:
Nominee must be 35 or younger as of January 1 during the current nomination cycle.

Safety, Security and International Affairs

This medal recognizes a federal employee for a significant accomplishment in fields such as civil rights, cyber-security, emergency preparedness and response, border security, counter-terrorism, defense and military affairs, intelligence or diplomacy.

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Management Excellence

This medal recognizes a federal employee for demonstrating superior leadership and management excellence through a significant contribution to the nation that exemplifies efficient, effective and results-oriented government.

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Science and Environment

This medal recognizes a federal employee for a significant contribution to the nation in activities related to science and environment (including biomedicine, economics, energy, information technology, meteorology, resource conservation and space).

See Past Honorees