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Obama to ‘Selfless’ Feds: I Appreciate You, Even if No One Else Does

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Carolyn Kaster/AP

President Obama wants federal employees to know that even if no one else supports them, he does.

In a presidential proclamation formally establishing 2016’s Public Service Recognition Week, the nation’s top federal worker noted the sacrifice of his fellow government employees. He added their jobs are not made easier by the consistent scapegoating of civil servants.

“Even in the toughest of circumstances, including a politics that does not always fully recognize the value of their work, our public servants -- often at great personal sacrifice -- continue striving to build a better country and to bring lasting change to the lives of ordinary people across America,” Obama said. “These selfless individuals tackle great challenges facing our country.”

The president noted that 85 percent of the federal workforce is located outside of Washington, D.C., and that federal employees are experts on a range of subjects. 

“Civil servants demonstrate resolve and inspire optimism in sectors throughout our country,” he said. “They are engineers and educators, military service members and social workers, and their individual and collective contributions drive us forward on the path toward an ever brighter tomorrow.”

Absent from Obama’s message were any references -- included in last year’s address -- to the policies implemented in his administration that were damaging to the workforce, such as pay freezes, budget cuts and sequestration. He did note, however, that feds often value compassion over the size of their paychecks.

“Serving the public is not just about a paycheck,” Obama said, “it's about contributing to the steady effort to perfect our union over time so our democracy works for everyone. This week, let us embrace the hopeful spirit that embodies the extraordinary work of our civil servants. It is the same spirit that built America, and because of the hard work of compassionate and determined public servants, it will continue to build us up for generations to come.”

The Senate last week unanimously passed a resolution to honor public servants during their recognition week. A similar measure was introduced in the House but never received a vote.

Several events in the capital area will highlight federal employees throughout the week, which was created in 1985. 

Eric Katz writes about federal agency operations and management. His deep coverage of Veterans Affairs, Homeland Security, the Environmental Protection Agency and U.S. Postal Service has earned him frequent guest spots on national radio and television news programs. Eric joined Government Executive in the summer of 2012 and previously worked for The Financial Times. He is a graduate of The George Washington University.

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