Think you have a cool job? Well, have you argued 80 cases before the U.S. Supreme Court? Flown the heaviest payload ever loaded on to a Space Shuttle? Negotiated the treaty that established the International Space Station? Or sunk a 27,000-ton aircraft carrier so it can serve as the world’s largest man-made reef?
The people who did are all senior career federal officials, who on Thursday evening earned Presidential Rank Awards, the nation’s highest honor for federal civil servants.
During a dinner at the State Department, 66 honorees were feted by Obama administration officials and the Senior Executives Association, which represents members of the Senior Executive Service, the most senior career managers in the federal government.
Just 1 percent of SES members are eligible to receive the award each year; the winners all earn a five-figure bonus paid for through the federal budget.
But the bonus and the award are well-deserved, because collectively, the work of the honorees has saved taxpayers roughly $37 billion, according to SEA President Carol Bonasaro
She read a litany of accomplishments achieved by the winners. (But she never specified — in her speech or subsequent press release — which honoree did what.) One winner processed more than 200,000 citizenship applications. Another manages all of the equipment sent to service members overseas, including water, tents, kitchen supplies and portable latrines.
“If the American people only knew,” Bonasaro said, with a tinge of disappointment. Honorees and SEA members said Thursday that despite the 26-year history of the dinner and the impressive accomplishments of its honorees, no president has ever attended the event or hosted it at the White House. (Though the State Department’s Diplomatic Reception Rooms aren’t too shabby.)
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack spoke on behalf of the administration, recounting his years of working with career public servants in Iowa when he served as a mayor and governor and more recently in Washington.
“I wish every American could be here tonight,” he said, noting that despite concerns and criticism about the public sector, anyone who learned of the dedicated work of the winners “would know that America’s still got it.”
Here’s a list of the winners, by department:
ADVISORY COUNCIL ON HISTORIC PRESERVATION: John M. Fowler.
AGRICULTURE DEPARTMENT: Jon M. Holladay, Cynthia J. Smith.
COMMERCE DEPARTMENT: Isaac M. Held, Mary E. Kicza, James K. White.
DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE (including the Office of the Secretary, Defense Intelligence Agency, National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and departments of the Air Force, Army and Navy): Alan F. Estevez, Larry K. Huffman, Paul S. Koffsky, Michael L. Rhodes, Cheryl J. Roby, Peter F. Verga, Melissa G. Daston, Terrance M. Ford, Keith E. Littlefield, John B. Tuley, Harvey A. Davis, Mary P. Fyock, David B. Hurry, Robert E. Joyce, Kathleen I. Ferguson, David F. O’Brien, Kevin M. Fahey, A. Fenner Milton, Gerald M. Borsuk, Thomas C. Conran, Donald F. McCormack Jr., Thomas G. Tesch, James E. Thomsen.
DEFENSE NUCLEAR FACILITIES SAFETY BOARD: Richard E. Tontodonato.
ENERGY DEPARTMENT: Michael C. Kane.
ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY: Beverly H. Banister, James J. Jones.
GENERAL SERVICES ADMINISTRATION: Jon A. Jordan.
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES: Kathleen R. Annette, Christopher Mandregan Jr.
DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY: Jane E. Arellano, Frank J. DiFalco, Jeffery G. Orner, Mark J. Sullivan.
DEPARTMENT OF HOUSING AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT: Camille E. Acevedo, George J. Tomchick III.
INTERIOR DEPARTMENT: Ernest Quintana, Katherine H. Stevenson.
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT: Michael R. Dreeben, Jolene Lauria Sullens, Patty M. Stemler, Bruce C. Swartz, Anthony M. Bladen (from the FBI).
NASA: Lynn F. H. Cline, Antonia T. Dawsey, Mark S. Geyer, Arthur E. Goldman, Robert M. Lightfoot, Bryan D. O’Connor, Mark L. Uhran.
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION: Deborah L. Crawford, Michael M. Reischman.
OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET: Kathleen Peroff.
SOCIAL SECURITY ADMINISTRATION: Ronald T. Raborg.
STATE DEPARTMENT: James H. Thessin.
TRANSPORTATION DEPARTMENT: Jeffrey F. Paniati.
TREASURY DEPARTMENT: Geraldine Gerardi.
USAID: Franklin C. Moore.
DEPARTMENT OF VETERANS AFFAIRS: Susan P. Bowers, Peter P. Henry.
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