Awards celebrate bureaucracy's best and brightest

For 52 years, the Arthur S. Flemming Awards have honored up-and-coming federal leaders who combine a spirit for innovation with a strong commitment to public service. Named in honor of Flemming when he was only 43, the awards recognize bureaucracy's best and brightest, officials who have made a tremendous impact after only a brief time in government. One of the premier public servants of the 20th century, Flemming served Presidents from Roosevelt to Reagan as Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare; director of the Office of Defense Mobilization; head of the U.S. Commission on Aging; and chairman of the Civil Rights Commission, along with numerous other positions in government and academia. Flemming twice earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom, in 1957 and again in 1994. Eulogizing him at his funeral in 1996, First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton called Flemming "one of this nation's greatest public servants." The Flemming awards were established in 1948 by Washington's Downtown Jaycees, when Flemming still had a long and prestigious career ahead of him. This year's recipients will be honored at a ceremony in Washington on Tuesday, June 5. The 2000 Flemming awards honor 12 outstanding civil servants in three categories: Administrative, Scientific and Applied Science. Administrative John J. Behun's managerial expertise has allowed criminal justice agencies throughout the country to share forensic science and DNA information with ease, aiding more than 2,000 criminal investigations. As chief of the Forensic Science unit within the FBI, Behun set up a secure computer network through which criminal justice laboratories at the federal, state and local levels can exchange forensic data such as fingerprints and DNA. He accomplished this feat with no base funding and little support staff, serving as a liaison among several agencies, the White House, and managers in 204 state and local crime laboratories. Behun also proved adept at overcoming an interagency rivalry between the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms that had previously stalled the project. A 1993 graduate of the Presidential Management Intern program, Behun has been instrumental in the creation of a program at Children's Hospital in Washington, that helps children who are the victims of violent and sexual crimes. Maj. Janet W. Grondin turned the relocation of a crucial part of the Air Force satellite network into what the service considers the "best run Base Realignment and Closure project in the Air Force." As director of engineering at the National Reconnaissance Office at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado, Grondin oversaw the transfer of reconnaissance satellite systems from the Onizuka Air Force Station in California to Schriever. She built a support infrastructure at Schriever from scratch, completing a new operations building 10 months early and using innovative acquisition techniques to deliver a commercially based Command and Control system. This system allowed the office to conduct the satellite transfer without a hitch. Furthermore, it requires half the operating staff of the old system. Grondin also led the design of a new telemetry system that monitors satellites' location and created a security system at the operations facility that has been adopted by five additional Air Force facilities across the country. As a result of her leadership, the project was completed 10 months before its congressional deadline. A mother of two, Grondin is active in a variety of programs that help interest kids in science. Shinyu Kevin Kuniyoshi cuts through the red tape that keeps new airplanes on the ground. For almost eight years, Kuniyoshi has served as a program manager at the Federal Aviation Administration, directing the certification process for new transport airplanes. Through his leadership, the Boeing 717-200 received the first-ever joint certification from the FAA and the Joint Aviation Authorities, which regulates air travel for 30 European countries. This joint certification means the new airplane can be seamlessly transferred between U.S. and European registry. Since 1976, Kuniyoshi has been active with the Okinawa Association of America, a Los Angeles-based Japanese community group. Barbara B. Tillet's keen business sense and communication skills helped the Library of Congress complete a revolutionary automation of its core acquisition and cataloging functions. As project director for the Integrated Library System project, Tillet oversaw 76 implementation teams and initiated a massive mandatory training effort to ensure that library workers were able to use the new workstations. The integration was completed by its October 1999 deadline. The library estimates the new system will yield $6.2 million in annual savings through improved asset management and the automation of basic activities. Tillet previously directed the integration of library systems at the University of California, San Diego. Applied Science Keith K. Denoyer pioneers new methods to keep spacecraft safe. An internationally renowned engineer with articles in more than 65 technical publications to his credit, the 34-year old Denoyer supervises a staff of 70 at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Kirtland Air Force Base in New Mexico. Denoyer has developed numerous systems to protect spacecraft from the shock and vibration of launch, which leads to approximately half of all satellite failures. His work enabled the Navy to save $8 million in the design of the Geosat Follow-On Spacecraft and led to the creation of devices that ensure the low-shock release of satellites into orbit. Denoyer has also developed "smart" instruments to sense and counteract performance-degrading vibration on spacecraft. A gifted teacher, Denoyer's research group has churned out more than 16 patentable technologies over the last two years. Jason A. Vaughn is helping NASA outfit spacecraft with the next generation of space-sensitive materials. For more than a decade, Vaughn has worked at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., developing technologies that have aided numerous space missions. His research led to the creation of a polymeric tether to collect electrons from the ionospheric plasma, making way for a scientific mission this summer. Vaughn's research on plasma interactions led to a redesign of solar arrays on the international space station. Vaughn also worked in tandem with researchers at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory in the development of the Atomic Oxygen Beam System, which tests materials in the atomic oxygen environment of low-earth orbit. When he isn't designing new space materials, Vaughn coaches soccer and girls softball and is active in a local Episcopal Church. Glenn A. Washer makes sure the nation's nearly 600,000 highway bridges are in good shape. As a program manager with the Federal Highway Administration, Washer has spent the last five years organizing a national center for the development and testing of nondestructive evaluation technologies for highway infrastructure. Working with state transportation officials, Washer has focused the center's work on designing new tools to detect weaknesses in bridges. He also launched the first national study of techniques used to inspect bridges, providing a roadmap for the future development of new technologies. A skilled structural engineer, Washer is a Ph.D. candidate in the field of Materials Science and Engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. Capt. Evelyn M. Rodriguez has devoted her career to ensuring the safety of new pharmaceutical drugs. For more than a decade, Rodriguez has been a leader in the field of drug risk and evaluation at various federal agencies. As a medical officer at the National Institutes of Health in the early 1990s, Rodriguez was the first to demonstrate that maternal drug use during pregnancy was associated with an increased risk for perinatal HIV transmission. Her groundbreaking drug safety reviews at the Food and Drug Administration led to the voluntary withdrawal of several drugs. A pediatrician and expert in preventive medicine, Rodriguez spearheaded an FDA program to improve the knowledge base of how drugs affect children. Rodriguez has had numerous articles published in English and Spanish-language medical journals. Scientific Capt. Erich D. Hernandez-Baquero's research on remote sensing technology is affecting everything from weather forecasts to reconnaissance operations. While studying for his doctorate at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the 29-year old Hernandez-Baquero used multivariate analysis to show how existing remote sensing techniques could be much more accurate. His research will significantly aid NASA's Earth Observing System Enterprise, a project that aims to better predict weather patterns and catastrophic weather events. As chief of the Electro-optical systems branch at the National Reconnaissance Office, Hernandez-Baquero is applying his research to national security issues. He is active in his local church and teaches karate to children. Anthony J. Kearsley's mathematical work has led to innovations in oil recovery, wireless communications and climate modeling. An expert on the use of large-scale optimization techniques to solve partial differential equations, Kearsley has collaborated with numerous scientists since joining the National Institute of Standards and Technology in 1996. Kearsley's work has led to cutting-edge solutions in the field of wireless communications that have aided companies such as Texas Instruments and Compaq. A member of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, Kearsley has worked to expand opportunities for minorities in science. David J. Lipman holds the key to the massive amounts of data generated by the human genome project. As director of the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) since its creation in 1988, Lipman has made NCBI a repository for the project's genetic information. He has also invented a wealth of tools for analyzing genetic data, including several algorithms that allow researchers to compare genetic sequences. Lipman also pioneered initiatives to make the genome accessible to the public such as the PubMed Web database and PubMed Central, a repository for primary research reports in the life sciences. Lipman's work has created an information infrastructure that will propel scientific discoveries for decades to come. Stuart E. Rogers, an aerospace engineer with the NASA Ames Research Center, has recorded path-breaking achievements in the field of computational fluid dynamics. The author of more than 60 articles, Rogers' work has led to improvements in aircraft high-lift systems. His research has applications in other fields, including improving the design of the Left-Ventricular Assist Device, which is used to aid patients with failing hearts. Rogers has also been an active force in the community during his 12-year federal career, volunteering with the local Parent-Teachers Association and coaching youth baseball and soccer teams.
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