Panetta jokes about his colorful remarks during swearing-in ceremony

At his public swearing-in ceremony at the Pentagon on Friday, Leon Panetta joked about his emerging reputation as an outspoken Defense secretary -- while sharing a stage with Vice President Joe Biden, who is also famous for his bluntness.

"It is something we all know that Joe's heritage is Irish and mine is Italian. And our parents, as young people growing up in these families, always taught us to speak plainly and directly. And sometimes that's gotten us in trouble," said Panetta, who officially took the oath of office three weeks ago in a private ceremony, according to media reports.

"As a result there was some talk here of trying to put a seven-second delay on the microphones for this ceremony. But I can't imagine why the hell that would be necessary."

Panetta, whose first overseas trip to Afghanistan and Iraq earlier this month made headlines for his blunt remarks and colorful language, also struck a serious note in his remarks. He acknowledged his upcoming role to lead the budget-cutting charge at the Pentagon, which he said does not have a "blank check from the American people."

"We will face the fiscal challenges that confront us but we will do it in a way that maintains the strength of our country," he said. "We must continue to be accountable to the American people for what we spend, where we spend it and what the results are. But I am confident the years I have spent working on budgets … that we can do this in a way that will strengthen us for the future."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.