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Washington, D.C. - During a ceremony to honor federal employees from the Chicago area - employees whose hard work is often overlooked -- U.S. Office of Personnel Management Kay Coles James thanked the attendees for their dedication to the nation and reminded them of the critical work that lies ahead.
"These awards carry an important message to the American public regarding the high caliber of the federal work force...members of the civil service that President Theodore Roosevelt helped create and had much pride in," said James. "We salute you today, not only for your day-to-day outstanding performance in your regular duties, but also for the impact you have had beyond the scope of your normal assignments. Because of your hard work and dedication, your wonderful sense of optimism and confidence, America's future glitters like gold."
The theme of this year's event was Federal Employees - The Gold Standard of the American Work Force, and it included 540 individual employee nominations from 182 agencies.
"Let us consider for a moment why you are here - why you were chosen," said James. "You are getting this award today because you are the federal employee who keeps his or her commitments, large and small. Your fellow employees can count on you. You have earned this award today because you do your job cheerfully, even that part of it that is not your favorite. You were nominated for this award because you are a consistently superior performer. Your tasks are done well, to a high standard, all the time. Your employer - more importantly, the American people - can depend on you."
James continued by reminding the attendees of the how the world and their work have changed, "Federal employees today face many challenges. In the past two years, America has experienced an historical transition from a nation of easy movement in an open society to a nation aware of unprecedented, unwanted and undeserved danger. It has brought us together and made us stronger. We are confident that liberty and democracy will succeed over evil and hatred because history has given this formidable challenge to the country that treasures freedom more than any country in the world, yesterday, today or tomorrow."
Nine individuals and 2 teams were presented with awards during the ceremony. The categories included: Outstanding Professional Employee; Outstanding Supervisory Employee; Outstanding Program Specialist Employee; Outstanding Law Enforcement Employee; Outstanding Technical/Program Support Employee; Outstanding Secretarial/Clerical Employee; Outstanding Trades & Crafts Employee; Outstanding Community Service Employee; Outstanding Public Contact Employee; Outstanding Team; and Outstanding Law Enforcement Team.
In closing, James said: "America is fortunate indeed to have a government work force - like those of you sitting in the audience - that has risen to the test every time adversity has challenged our resolve and our character. Everywhere I go in this country, I am struck by a new sense of respect and gratitude for our civilian public service, and pride in federal workers like yourselves. Throughout our nation's history, Americans have come together for a common purpose. And now you have the honor of working for America at an incredibly defining moment in our history. Every day you protect the flame of freedom and liberty. You have become a keeper of that flame. Delivering the highest possible level of service to the American public is our goal. Improving the management and performance of the federal government is the way we reach our goal. With civil servants like you, I am confident we will succeed. We are paid by the American people... to serve the American people. My challenge to you is to serve them well."
Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.