Recognition Where It’s Due

Celebrating achievement among leaders of the Senior Executive Service.

Winners of the annual Presidential Rank Awards are among the public sector's highest achievers, men and women who have devoted their working lives to the many key missions of our federal government. Yet they are little celebrated in the media or even among their own colleagues in the federal establishment. So it is that Government Executive has joined forces with the Senior Executives Association to raise the profile of these honorees.

To read the list of winners and their achievements in this special supplement is to be reminded of the vast scope and important missions of our government. You'll get a glimpse in these pages of the key roles civilians play in developing the science and administrative disciplines that support our military forces; in managing large, tough law enforcement assignments; protecting the environment; improving service to veterans and senior citizens; and much more. The awards, says the Office of Personnel Management, honor "strong leaders, professionals and scientists who achieve results and consistently demonstrate strength, integrity, industry and a relentless commitment to excellence in public service." Winners of the "distinguished" rank award, numbering 50 in the latest round, receive a lump-sum payment equal to 35 percent of salary. All are career senior executives, as are winners of the "meritorious" rank award, which confers payments equal to 20 percent of salary.

The OPM Web site says nothing about the winners' careers or the accomplishments that merited the awards. The agency was slow this year to release any information about the honorees, though finally we obtained short summaries. Neither OPM nor the White House sponsor public events of celebration. Organizing what should be a robust celebration of the best in government thus is left to organizations outside government.

The Senior Executives Association for years has organized a five-star dinner in the State Department's beautiful diplomatic reception rooms, furnished with artifacts of American history and art and overlooking our key national monuments. About 220 people will gather there on April 17 to celebrate the 50 "distinguished" award winners.

Government Executive is proud to be sponsoring the dinner and another event the following day, a leadership symposium honoring the "meritorious" award winners and others in the SES. This half-day conference, focusing on managing change and preparing for the coming political transition, is our contribution to a community of people whose diligent execution of demanding responsibilities deserves more recognition than it gets.

Profiles By Rafael Enrique Valero:

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