A panel of five top administration officials participated in a well-attended town hall-style meeting May 3 in Washington to commemorate Public Service Recognition Week.
Television journalist Cokie Roberts led a panel of five top officials from the Obama administration in a well-attended town hall-style meeting May 3 in Washington to commemorate Public Service Recognition Week. The panel highlighted the accomplishments of agency workers but also delved into some of the key problems faced by employees in running a smoother and more effective civil service.
The town hall, held at the Ronald Reagan Building, primarily was aimed at honoring and recognizing public servants and their accomplishments, but it also explored new ideas and better ways to achieve agency goals. Members of the panel specifically addressed the problem of negative views of government service that have been especially prevalent over the past year.
“Amid the recent budget battles over the size and scope of government, it’s important that our nation’s hardworking public servants hear another message – one of thanks,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, which co-hosted the show along with 17 organizations focused on good governance. “And, it is important that the public hear more about innovative, effective government and the people who make it work.”
Echoing Stier’s remarks on government employees’ often unsung productivity, Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry noted: “The size of the federal government is smaller today than when Lyndon Johnson was president, yet there are 110 million more Americans that those people are serving. They have done that through incredible efficiencies.”
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood remarked that much of the good in government derives from a fact that eluded him until after he was sworn in: the sheer numbers of highly motivated, educated professionals who do the hands-on work at his agency. “[T]he extraordinary thing is that it [is] all done by career people who devoted their lives to safety,” he said. “That’s the No. 1 thing we care about at the Department of Transportation.… DOT has an extraordinary number of professionals, people who get up every day and come to work for the American people.”
The panel at the event also included Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan, and General Services Administration Administrator Martha Johnson.
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