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News Release

Friday, March 04, 2005
Contact: Chad Cowan
Tel: 202-606-2402

Steven R. Cohen, Senior Advisor to the Office of Personnel Management, Receives President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service


Washington, DC - Steven R. Cohen, Senior Advisor to the Director of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), today received the President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service - the highest award given for Federal civilian service - from President George W. Bush. Cohen retires from government service today at OPM. Dan Blair, OPM Acting Director has declared today, "Steve Cohen Day."

White House Chief of Staff, Secretary Andrew Card presented the award today in a ceremony today at OPM. Commenting on Cohen, Card stated, "Steve Cohen personifies the best of civil service. What a great example and role model he has been! The American people owe him a debt of gratitude."

OPM Acting Director Dan Blair commented on Cohen's service and the significance of this award, "Steve has served with unparalleled excellence during his 42 years of civilian service to this Nation. During his outstanding career he has held a multitude of leadership positions, helping to develop the next generation of civil service managers, in almost every program function in the Office of Personnel Management and its predecessor agency, the Civil Service Commission. Steve has earned every award the agency could bestow. He was awarded the rank of Distinguished Executive by two Presidents, George H. W. Bush and William J. Clinton. The President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service, bestowed by President George W. Bush, serves as a capstone to Steve's remarkable career. I am proud to have served with him."

At the request of President Bush, Cohen served as the Acting Director of OPM from January 2001 to July 2001, until the President's nominee for Director of OPM was confirmed by the Senate.

Following the tragic events of September 11, 2001, President Bush's historic proposal to create the Department of Homeland Security set in motion the largest restructuring of Government in more than 50 years. OPM would play a significant role in the establishment of the new department and the Director of OPM sought out the ablest individual to spearhead OPM's contributions to the process. Cohen, who had retired in January 2002, agreed to come out of retirement in October 2002 to serve as OPM's representative on Homeland Security matters to the White House, the Office of Homeland Security, and the Congress. 

Cohen's primary task was to lead implementation of a critical component of the Homeland Security Act the requirement to develop a modern human resources management system that would enable the new Department to drive results and take swift and appropriate action to protect the United States. Cohen worked successfully to maintain the principles of our Nation's merit-based civil service while creating a modern and revitalized human resources system capable of meeting the Department of Homeland Security's critical mission.

Blair stated, "Steve has been a tremendous resource for our team here at OPM as well as the Administration. About 110 individuals have been given the President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service. As the first person from OPM to have received the award, Steve is part of an elite group that includes the likes of Lawrence Eagleburger, Wernher Von Braun, and J. Edgar Hoover. Steve will be sorely missed and wish him the best of luck in his newest challenge:  staying retired." 

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OPM leads and serves the Federal Government in enterprise human resources management by delivering policies and services to achieve a trusted, effective civilian workforce. By Empowering Excellence in Government through Great People, we provide leadership and support to U.S. agencies on issues including human resources policy and oversight, background investigations, federal employee benefits, retirement services, guidance on labor-management relations, and programs to improve workforce performance. For more information, visit or follow OPM on Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn.

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