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Senator showcases exemplary feds

Delaware Democrat aims to improve the public’s perception of government workers through floor speeches and exhibition.

Being a federal employee isn't always that glamorous and, as recent attacks on government facilities have reminded us, it isn't always safe either.

One Delaware Democrat is doing his part to temper the negative perceptions of government that appear to be behind some of the incidents. "The worth of federal employees is not understood by the public," Sen. Ted Kaufman told Delaware Today. "I hope to spotlight at least 70 or more of these dedicated public servants during the balance of my term in hopes of changing that public perception to a positive one."

Since May 2009, Kaufman has addressed the Senate regularly with stories of extraordinary federal workers. In late February, he organized the Great Federal Employees exhibition at the Russell Senate Office Building Rotunda to further showcase 40 of the public servants he had honored.

The exhibition didn't come with lots of frills. In a series of modest posters, it made its point befittingly: Despite what French political philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville described as the "simple exterior of the persons in authority," feds are doing exciting things.

Visitors learned about former FBI Chief Information Officer Zalmai Azmi, who revamped the bureau's information technology infrastructure to meet the needs of a post-Sept. 11 environment. And Orlando Figueroa, who led NASA's Mars Exploration Rover project in 2001, taking space and science research where it had never been.

They could have observed a moment of silence for John Granville, who was gunned down by militants on a mission to distribute hand-operated radio receivers to villagers in Sudan for the U.S. Agency for International Development. Or they could have applauded Dave Carballeyra, the Air Force's director of stereolithography, for improving treatment for veterans with new 3-D bone and tissue imaging technology.

Kaufman will continue to highlight such exemplary public servants through the end of his term in November.

Click here to view a photo gallery of the Great Federal Employees exhibition