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I like to think that our Federal workforce leaders know how much we all appreciate and respect the hard work they do each and every day. But yesterday, I had the honor of hosting an event where I joined the President in making clear just how much we value the efforts of all our senior leaders.
More than 3,000 senior leaders came together to share success stories and to listen to administration leaders and the President thank them for a job well done.
As the President said, circumstances such as sequestration, pay freezes, and a shutdown have made the jobs of our senior executives even more challenging than usual. Throughout these difficulties, these leaders have persevered and excelled. Through their leadership, our 2-million strong Federal workforce makes sure that each day in America, 30,000 airplanes land on time, children have clean water to drink, and millions more Americans have quality, affordable health coverage for themselves and their loved ones.
As I said on Tuesday, it is fitting that the symbol of the Senior Executive Service is a keystone, which is the stone that holds all the other pieces of an arch in place. These talented, committed, and dedicated leaders are the keystone of America’s workforce.
Tuesday’s event also gave all of us an opportunity to rededicate ourselves to building and leading an engaged, inclusive, innovative, and diverse Federal workforce. We celebrated our successes and were inspired to continue the important work of providing excellent service to the American people each and every day.
As the Federal workforce prepares to share this holiday season with friends and family, I hope you will take a moment to let your colleagues know how much you value your Federal family. I know I am grateful for the talent, the commitment, and the dedication of the women and men of the Office of Personnel Management. I am honored to be your senior leader.
Today, OPM kicked off the 2014 Presidential Rank Awards (PRA) process by asking agencies to nominate distinguished members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) and Senior Level (SL)/Scientific or Professional (ST) employees. These prestigious awards recognize these SES and SL/ST employees for sustained accomplishments over a period of years.
Awards programs such as the Presidential Rank Awards encourage excellence in Federal service, recognizing the accomplishments of the dedicated, hard-working men and women of the civil service. Awards are given in recognition of scientific breakthroughs, improvements in the delivery of service to the American people, and work that has or will result in the saving of billions of dollars for taxpayers. For example, one PRA finalist developed and executed a new contracting strategy for purchasing renewable energy at the Department of Defense that is projected to save $20 million. In another example, a PRA finalist at the Department of Commerce created the Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP) comprised of 750 companies and 1,800 individuals who are collaborating with the Federal government in developing smart grid standards that will help improve the energy usage and efficiency across the country.
As leaders in their agencies, nominees serve as role models for the entire workforce and must meet stringent personal and professional standards. Agencies are asked to consider the current challenging fiscal conditions and resources needed to meet overall agency mission priorities in determining the number of nominations to submit. Further, to ensure the continued integrity of the SES and SL/ST awards programs, all agencies are required to develop plans for the consideration of conduct, where appropriate, when determining performance awards for members of the SES or SL/ST employees. These plans will be made public on the agencies’ websites by September 30.
For last year, budgetary considerations due to sequestration limited the PRA program from granting any monetary awards. However, a list of 2013 finalists was selected based on nominations, and their accomplishments are recognized for their national and often international significance. Finalists from the FY 2013 class of nominations remain eligible to be re-nominated for FY 2014.
The Presidential Rank Awards recognize the exemplary achievements of individuals in service to the Federal government and the American people. The PRA, like other awards programs, is important to the continued and future success of our world-class workforce, and it serves as a source of pride and inspiration to all of us.
I look forward to reviewing the outstanding nominations.
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