Lawmakers honor outstanding feds on Capitol Hill

The Partnership for Public Service on Wednesday announced 32 federal employees as finalists for the 2010 Service to America Medals.

The breakfast on Capitol Hill, held during Public Service Recognition Week, honored employees from across the country, including 17 from the Washington area and two who now live and work in Afghanistan. The nonprofit Partnership will name eight winners during a Sept. 15 gala in the nation's capital.

Many of the 2010 finalists work in the fields of health, science and security. The awards celebrate the achievements of outstanding civil servants and are aimed at recruiting more people to work in the federal government.

"There is no greater way to recognize public service than to lift up those who have served so well," said Office of Personnel Management Director John Berry.

Finalists included Pius Bannis, field office director in Haiti for the Homeland Security Department's Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, who expedited the immigration process to unite 1,100 orphans with adoptive families after the devastating earthquake in Haiti, and Karthik Ramanathan, retired director of the Treasury Department's Office of Debt Management. Ramanathan orchestrated the sale of Treasury bills to raise $1.7 trillion to stabilize the U.S. banking system.

Feds "don't receive the kind of bonus you see on Wall Street," said Sen. Ted Kaufman, D-Del., at Wednesday's event. "Their bonus is the satisfaction of having made a difference…that is the bonus of all the money in the world." Since May 2009, Kaufman regularly has addressed the Senate with stories of notable federal workers.

Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Mass., stressed the importance of public service during difficult times. "Government is more important to the care and protection of people [now] than any other time," he said, "It's not surprising that recent polls of customer satisfaction with government employees is at an all-time high -- for you. For Congress, it's quite a different situation," he added, to chuckles.

Click here for a complete list of 2010 finalists.

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