The Sammies are sponsored by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit organization that focuses on issues affecting the federal workforce.

Partnership_for_Public_ServiceMany famous federal dramas have used Room 325 in the Russell Senate Office Building as a stage. John and Robert Kennedy announced their plans to run for president in what was then called the Senate Caucus Room. The disgrace of Watergate was on display when the Senate held hearings there. And Clarence Thomas’s Supreme Court nomination hearing, which he called “a high-tech lynching for uppity blacks,” was in that room.

The space, with its 35-foot-high ceiling and grand French windows, is now called the Kennedy Caucus Room in honor of brothers John, Robert and Edward. It was a stage again Wednesday, but the show wasn’t as dramatic and the actors weren’t as famous.

Yet the 32 federal employees who were honored in the room as finalists for the 2010 Service to America Medals represent the best in the federal service. They are regular people who do extraordinary things every day, as do other ordinary federal workers.

The awards, often called Sammies, are sponsored by the Partnership for Public Service, a nonprofit organization that focuses on issues affecting the federal workforce. Acknowledging the finalists was part of Public Service Recognition Week. And this celebration is a needed relief after what has been a stream of implied criticisms about federal pay and, much more seriously, a series of violent attacks this year on federal employees.

“By and large, government has been playing defense, and it needs to play offense,” said Max Stier, the partnership’s president. “It needs to really share the amazing stories of achievement that government is producing with the American people.”

As Stier briefly listed the 32 finalists’ achievements, at a breakfast banquet early enough for them to get back to work, it became clear that innovation was the thread that links them. The image of a stodgy, slow-moving government, though too often true, is shattered by the inventive approach to problem solving that the finalists demonstrated.

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Source: The Washington Post
Photo: Partnership for Public Service