A number of top administration officials, starting with President Obama, took the opportunity this week — Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW) — to recognize the value of government employees and praise them for their service.
The show of support represents an important acknowledgment that the good work by the vast majority of federal employees is not going unnoticed. I’ve decided to compile here a rundown of many of those words of thanks.
Obama, for example, said in a statement that he knows employees “do their jobs with pride and passion,” and “work tirelessly on behalf of their fellow citizens to confront the challenges impacting our communities and our nation.”
“During Public Service Recognition Week, we recognize these committed public servants and honor their efforts to ensure a brighter future for the next generation,” Obama said.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made clear that she too understands the value of those in public service. “I have long admired the dedication of the people whose names rarely, if ever, make it into any headlines, but who are the backbone, the nervous system, the intelligence of our government year after year,” Clinton said. “And I wish to thank every federal government employee for his or her efforts.”
Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar agreed that the work of the country’s public servants “often goes unnoticed or is underappreciated,” but added that does not diminish its importance
“It is vital to the health, prosperity and security of every American,” said Salazar. “It’s important to remind public servants at every level of government that they are the very foundation of a stable America.”
These sentiments also were echoed by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and General Services Administration Acting Administrator Dan Tangherlini during a Public Service Town Hall on Tuesday.
During the town hall, they emphasized that they think about the workforce and ways to make government work better, and are constantly looking to engage employees and bring young people in the civil service.
In an email to Department of Education employees, Secretary Arne Duncan also expressed his appreciation of the workforce.
“As we celebrate Public Service Recognition Week, I would like to thank each of you for your dedication and for the hard work you do every day. You are making a real and lasting difference, promoting educational excellence and equity throughout the country – from preschool to college and beyond,” said Duncan.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret A. Hamburg said she considers it “a privilege to work with a tremendously talented team of scientists and other professionals who are dedicated to the agency’s mission to promote and protect public health.”
Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe also had some kind words, saying he is “constantly humbled by the work ethic and dedication of our people.” He said there are countless large and small actions employees take every day to conserve and protect America's wildlife, adding that “our people are passionately committed to public service and our mission."
Other federal leaders also praised their employees. National Science Foundation (NSF) Director Subra Suresh said "we could not execute our mission without our outstanding NSF employees. They are all critical to NSF's success, and we appreciate everything they do for NSF and our country, each and every day."
U.S. Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) Director Leocadia Zak noted that she was “proud of USTDA’s dedicated staff who have committed themselves to the agency’s mission of helping to create U.S. jobs while supporting development abroad.”
“Many who choose a career in public service are called to do so,” Transportation Security Administration Administrator John Pistole said. “As an organization 60,000 strong, there is a core belief within our workforce that is often expressed through volunteerism. It affirms the importance of being involved with, and being committed to, advancing the values of the communities in which we live."
Federal Labor Relations Authority (FLRA) Chairman Carol Waller Pope — who has worked in the federal government for more than 31 years — also recognized the importance of Public Service Recognition Week noting that “PSRW is a wonderful way to acknowledge our employees and their deep commitment to the FLRA’s mission.”
General Printing Office (GPO) Acting Public Printer Davita Vance-Cooks said “Public Service Recognition Week is an opportunity for the men and women of GPO to be recognized for our accomplishments, as we join with the rest of the country in recognizing the achievements of other public servants at all levels of government in making America a safe and better place for all of us to live.”
These leaders understand that the success or failure of important public policies and the delivery of critical services depends on an energetic, skilled and motivated federal workforce. They also understand that we will only succeed as a nation and meet our challenges if we treat our public servants as a national asset, not as an unnecessary cost.
As federal managers it is important that you too spread this message.
How is your agency celebrating Public Service Recognition Week? What are you doing to thank and recognize your employees this week — and throughout the year? Share your stories by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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