Handbook of Operating Procedures

Achievement Award Program

Policy Number: 26


Achievement Award Program


All employees

Date Reviewed:
February 2014
Responsible Office:
Human Resources
Responsible Executive:
Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer


The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston ("university") uses an Achievement Award Program ("AAP") as part of its total employee compensation strategy. The purpose of the AAP is to provide an incentive, in the form of a one-time payment, to eligible employees for attaining measurable group goals above and beyond normal job duties that support the university's mission and objectives. The use of an AAP as an incentive tool is at the discretion of the head of each project or department, or the President for university-wide programs. An AAP is prospective in nature and is based on meeting specific criteria and outcomes for projects to be completed in the future; it is not a bonus for past performance. Achievement award payments are one-time payments that do not become part of an employee's recurring base salary. These awards supplement and do not replace the university's base pay or merit pay programs.


A. Guidelines

AAPs must comply with the following guidelines:

  • Programs must be prospective in nature.
  • Awards must be based on specific future criteria and outcomes being met.
  • Performance measurements must be clearly established prior to program implementation.
  • Program information must be communicated to eligible participants.
  • Goals and performance measurements must include objective terms that a neutral observer could determine have been met.
  • Program awards must be paid from sources other than state or federal funds. (Contact the Post Award Finance ("PAF") Team to determine whether the funds identified for program awards are appropriate.)
  • Effective dates must be defined in the program and cannot be retroactive.
  • Programs are funded by the department or project budget.
  • Programs must be documented using the approved AAP form.
  • Employees are eligible to receive total awards not to exceed the greater of $5,000 or 15% of their base salary in a fiscal year from all AAPs in which they participate.
  • Individuals may participate in more than one AAP, provided that the same goal(s) are not being measured.
  • Specified goals and performance measurements must be attained prior to payment.
  • Attainment of program goals cannot adversely impact other areas.
  • As noted, achievement award payments are one-time payments and do not increase an employee's base salary. Award payments to eligible participants are treated as payroll items subject to federal income tax withholding and FICA withholding. Award payments are not eligible for the calculation of employee fringe benefits such as deductions for the Teachers Retirement System program ("TRS"), the Optional Retirement Program ("ORP"), or for the payment of insurance premiums. Award payments are included in the calculation of the maximum deferral available under the tax-sheltered annuity program.
  • Any achievement awards paid to nonexempt employees must be included in overtime calculations under the Fair Labor Standards Act. This is applied retroactively for the effective time period of the program. Funding for achievement award payments must be sufficient to cover recalculated overtime payments in such cases.

B. Program Review and Approval

The head of the project or department is responsible for the operation of the AAP within the project or department and for its compliance with all relevant guidelines. Each AAP must be approved by the head of the project or department. A university-wide AAP requires the President's approval.  A copy of the AAP must be submitted to Human Resources upon approval of the program.

The AAP must be reviewed and evaluated at least annually by the head of the project or department to ensure the program's goals are achieved and to determine whether the program will be changed or continued. Each project manager or department is responsible for maintaining the AAP form(s) and supporting documentation.

The President reserves the right to change or terminate an AAP at any time. Eligible employees will be notified by the head of the project or department of any changes to the AAP.


ContactTelephoneEmail/Web Address
Human Resources 713-500-3130 https://www.uth.edu/hr/department/compensation/index.htm