The Federal Diary
The Federal Diary
Joe Davidson

‘Sammies’ finalists honored on Capitol Hill

Photo by Sam Kittner/Kittner.com - Sammies finalists.

As part of Public Service Recognition Week, the Partnership for Public Service introduced 31 finalists for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, also known as the Sammies, during a breakfast in their honor at the Senate Hart Office Building on Tuesday.

The finalists were selected by the Partnership from names of federal employees nominated by their supervisors and others. The winners in each category will be announced at a ceremony in October.

Joe Davidson

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about the federal workplace that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns.

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The awards recognize outstanding service and are considered among the most prestigious available to federal workers. The Federal Employee of the Year and Career Achievement medalists each receive $10,000; the Call to Service medalist gets $5,000, and all other medalists receive $3,000. The employee of the year is chosen from among all the finalists.

Below are the award categories, the list of finalists and their accomplishments.

Call to Service

“This medal recognizes a federal employee whose professional achievements reflect the important contributions that a new generation brings to public service.”

Andrew Rabens, State Department, Washington, “led an initiative to engage young leaders from the Middle East and North Africa to share ideas and learn about American democracy.”

David Vollman, Veterans Health Administration, St. Louis, “gathered, organized and analyzed data on cataract surgery results to improve medical practices and outcomes for patients.”

Manan Vyas, NASA, Cleveland, “advanced the national goal of developing hypersonic aircraft engines, the last frontier of aeronautics, through innovative testing and scientific analysis.”

Career Achievement

“This medal recognizes a federal employee for significant accomplishments throughout a lifetime of achievement in public service.”

William J. Borucki, NASA, Moffett Field, Calif., “led the design and operation of NASA’s Kepler space mission which discovered Earth-like planets as far as 1,200 light years away.”

Orice Williams Brown, Government Accountability Office, Washington, “provided Congress with impartial analysis and oversight regarding the nation’s financial regulatory system, issuing warnings about potential risks and making recommendations to improve the implementation of new laws and economic recovery programs.”

Mark DeMaria, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Fort Collins, Colo., “pioneered models to better forecast the path and intensity of hurricanes during the past three decades to help communities and first responders prepare for the severe storms, saving countless lives, homes and businesses.”

Michael Gottesman, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, “throughout a four-decade career, led seminal studies in the treatment of drug-resistant cancer cells and played an instrumental role in improving the rigor of medical research.”

Philip Rosenfelt, Education Department, Washington, “as a federal legal adviser and litigator for more than four decades, improved education and helped ensure equal access for all students.

Citizen Services

“This medal recognizes a federal employee for a significant contribution to the nation in activities related to citizen services (including economic development, education, health care, housing, labor and transportation).”

Dave Broomell, Social Security Administration, Stillwater, Minn., “developed a number of technology innovations that have improved Social Security’s customer service and employee efficiency.”

Martha Dorris, General Services Administration, Washington, “delivered timely information on federal programs and services and engaged citizens with our government through the use of Web portals, social media, crowdsourcing tools and a powerful search engine.”

Daniel Madrzykowski, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Gaithersburg, “dramatically improved firefighting practices by conducting and sharing sophisticated research that has saved firefighters’ lives and protected property across the nation.”

Terence V. Milholland, Internal Revenue Service, Washington, “overhauled IRS’ information technology and tax processing systems, leading to quicker refunds and notices to taxpayers, reduced fraud and better internal management.”

J. Todd Weber and team, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, “quickly identified contaminated medicine as the cause of a major meningitis outbreak in 2012, and led the national public health response, alerting 14,000 potentially exposed patients and providing treatment information to the medical community.”

Homeland Security and Law Enforcement

“This medal recognizes a federal employee for a significant contribution to the nation in activities related to homeland security and law enforcement (including border and transportation security, civil rights, counterterrorism, emergency response, fraud prevention, and intelligence).”

Charles Addington, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Washington, “developed and implemented an innovative law enforcement program that reduced the high violent crime rate on four Indian reservations by 35 percent, providing a model for other Native American communities.”

Michelle Colby and team, Department of Homeland Security, Washington, “following the loss of millions of farm animals throughout England in 2001, developed a new, safer vaccine for foot-and-mouth disease to protect America’s livestock industry and prevent harm to our national economy.”

John MacKinnon and team, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, Boston, “rescued more than 160 victims of child pornography and developed new forensic investigatory techniques to track down the predators that abuse them, resulting in over 50 arrests since 2010.”

Seamus McElearney and team, FBI, New York, “led lengthy undercover investigations that have severely disrupted two of New York’s notorious and violent organized crime families.”

Stephen Richardson and team, FBI, Mobile, Ala., “led a team of FBI agents and Alabama police that saved the life of a five-year-old boy who was kidnapped and held hostage by an armed killer for six terrifying days in an underground bunker.”

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.”

Margaret Focarino and team, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Alexandria, “led bold reforms that dramatically improved the speed and quality of patent examinations and approvals, helping incentivize new technologies and spur economic growth.”

Kevin T. Geiss, Department of the Air Force, Washington, “championed the safe use of alternative fuels to ensure energy independence for combat and support missions around the globe and reduced U.S. Air Force fuel and energy consumption, saving more than $1 billion in 2012 alone.”

Harry Haskins and team, Small Business Administration, Washington, “revitalized a moribund small business investment program, putting billions of dollars in the hands of entrepreneurs who created thousands of jobs since 2009.”

Claire Votaw, State Department, Arlington, “developed a shared information technology network for American embassies and federal agencies operating overseas, saving money and reducing duplication.”

National Security and International Affairs

“This medal recognizes a federal employee for a significant contribution to the nation in activities related to national security and international affairs (including defense, military affairs, diplomacy, foreign assistance and trade).”

Cara Christie and team, U.S. Agency for International Development, Washington, “identified a looming humanitarian crisis in the Horn of Africa and coordinated a complex U.S. relief effort to help millions of people who faced starvation and death due to the worst drought in six decades.”

Hamid Jafari, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, “directed the global initiative that eradicated polio in India and is leading the effort to eliminate this crippling and potentially fatal disease in the final three countries where it persists.”

Kenneth J. Linthicum, Agricultural Research Service, Gainesville, Fla., “developed techniques to predict outbreaks of insect-borne illnesses and protect livestock and humans, including military personnel, from debilitating and life-threatening disease.”

Erica Keen Thomas and team, State Department, Beijing, “collected and publicly shared data that revealed dangerous air pollution levels in Chinese cities, increasing public awareness of the health risks and causing the Chinese government to confront the issue.”

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).”

Paul D. Jablonski, Department of Energy, Albany, Ore., “revolutionized coronary stent technology by developing a new platinum-chromium alloy that makes the device thinner, more flexible and visible by x-ray.”

David Lavery and team, NASA, Washington, “led the Curiosity rover mission to Mars that is exploring the Red Planet’s geology and climate, and assessing whether conditions are favorable for microbial life and future human exploration.”

Julie Segre, Tara Palmore and team, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, “stopped the spread of a deadly hospital-acquired infection through the first-ever use of genome sequencing to identify the source and trace the transmission of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, creating a groundbreaking model for the health care industry.”

Josh Silverman, Department of Energy, Washington, “discovered and led efforts to halt the release of more than one million tons of the world’s most potent greenhouse gas from Energy Department facilities, the equivalent of taking over 200,000 cars off the nation’s roads every year.”

Nora D. Volkow, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, “demonstrated that drug addiction is a disease that changes brain function and created new strategies for treating patients with substance abuse issues.”

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