Public servants will be in the public eye -- in a good way – this spring.
The annual Public Service Recognition Week runs from May 4 through May 10 this year with the theme “Proud To Serve.” The week-long celebration of government employees began in 1985 and is managed by the Public Employees Roundtable, a coalition of government employee advocacy groups.
Festivities kick off Sunday, May 4, with a 5K run/walk in Washington, D.C. Other feature events in Washington include a public town hall meeting with Cabinet secretaries moderated by ABC News Political Commentator Cokie Roberts, a Washington Nationals baseball game and a congressional breakfast to announce the finalists of the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals. Proceeds from the 5K will benefit the Federal Employee Education and Assistance Fund, a non-profit organization devoted to helping civilian federal and postal employees through scholarships and emergency assistance.
Organizers also are taking advantage of social media this year to talk about the good work government employees across the country do. The “I ‘Heart’ Public Service Whiteboard” encourages people to submit photos illustrating why they support public service and public employees. Those pictures will be posted on Facebook and Instagram. A Thunderclap Twitter campaign is soliciting support for a mass May 4 tweet that will send a note of thanks to public servants from tweeps across the Twitterverse.
The past year hasn’t been easy for federal workers. Sequestration, which began in March 2013, caused unpaid furloughs across the government in the spring and summer. The 16-day government shutdown in October resulted in even more furloughs, with 800,000 federal employees wondering for weeks whether they would receive retroactive pay for the time they couldn’t work (they did eventually). President Obama and Congress lifted the three-year federal civilian pay raise in January, but there are still many efforts across government, mostly in the Republican-controlled House, to eliminate or reduce federal pay and other benefits.
Obama and other administration leaders typically send a public message of thanks to government employees at the start of Public Service Recognition Week.