Our Top Stories
Secretary Kathleen SebeliusSeptember 21, 2011
12:50 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross posted with the HealthCare.gov blog.
Last week we all got some great news when the Census Bureau released data showing that 500,000 more young adults in 2010 gained health coverage thanks to a provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ plans until they turn 26.
Today, we got new data and even better news – the number of young adults with health coverage has climbed even higher.
A new report shows that as of March 31, 2011, approximately one million more young adults have coverage, compared with one year ago.
The CDC’s National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) shows that in the first quarter of 2011, the percentage of adults between the ages of 19 and 25 with health insurance increased to 69.6%, from 66.1% in 2010. This amounts to 1 million more young adults with insurance than last year, because of the health law signed by President Obama. The Census Bureau’s results only included data through the end of 2010. The report released from the CDC today includes data from a portion of 2011.
These data are one more sign that the Affordable Care Act is working - especially for young adults all across the country. We know young adults are the group least likely to have health insurance and while most are in great health, everyone needs insurance in case they experience an injury or illness.
September 21, 2011
12:45 PM EDT
Today President Obama struck a hopeful note in his address to the United Nations General Assembly on overcoming the numerous challenges that stand in the way of a lasting peace. He advocated for peace defined by more than the absence of war, saying: “a lasting peace -- for nations and for individuals -- depends on a sense of justice and opportunity, of dignity and freedom.”
The President reminded the General Assembly of the progress the United States has made towards a new direction of peace:
The tide of war is receding. When I took office, roughly 180,000 Americans were serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. By the end of this year, that number will be cut in half, and it will continue to decline. This is critical for the sovereignty of Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s also critical to the strength of the United States as we build our nation at home.
Moreover, we are poised to end these wars from a position of strength. Ten years ago, there was an open wound and twisted steel, a broken heart in the center of this city. Today, as a new tower is rising at Ground Zero, it symbolizes New York’s renewal, even as al Qaeda is under more pressure than ever before. Its leadership has been degraded. And Osama bin Laden, a man who murdered thousands of people from dozens of countries, will never endanger the peace of the world again.
So, yes, this has been a difficult decade. But today, we stand at a crossroads of history with the chance to move decisively in the direction of peace. To do so, we must return to the wisdom of those who created this institution. The United Nations’ Founding Charter calls upon us, “to unite our strength to maintain international peace and security.” And Article 1 of this General Assembly’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights reminds us that, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and in rights.” Those bedrock beliefs -- in the responsibility of states, and the rights of men and women -- must be our guide.
And in that effort, we have reason to hope. This year has been a time of extraordinary transformation. More nations have stepped forward to maintain international peace and security. And more individuals are claiming their universal right to live in freedom and dignity.
Sarah BernardSeptember 21, 2011
12:01 PM EDT
On Wednesday, September 28, President Obama will take your questions during a live, Open for Questions roundtable from the White House with Yahoo!, MSN Latino, AOL Latino and HuffPost LatinoVoices.
In this event, the President will address the issues that matter most to the Hispanic community and all Americans – the economy and job creation, education, health care, fixing the broken immigration system and more.
Jon CarsonSeptember 21, 2011
10:51 AM EDT
On Monday, President Obama unveiled a plan for economic growth and deficit reduction (pdf) that details how to pay for the American Jobs Act while also paying down our debt over time. The plan, which is being sent to the Congressional Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, offers a balanced approach to further reduce our nation’s deficit and get our fiscal house in order, based on the values of shared responsibility and shared sacrifice. Organizations are adding their voice to the conversation and we would love to hear from you.
Communications Workers of America (CWA), Larry Cohen, President:
The administration’s plan is a positive step toward overall tax fairness and ensuring that the wealthiest Americans pay at least the same percentage of their earnings as working and middle class Americans. Rates for the wealthiest Americans have been cut 75 percent in the last 50 years.
Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Mary Kay Henry, President:
President Obama was right to propose the millionaire’s tax and an end to the Bush tax cuts as an important step in ending tax giveaways and closing corporate loopholes for those who haven’t done their part to turn our country around.
National Partnership for Women & Families, Debra L. Ness, President:
In these tough economic times, when enormous challenges and the hardest of choices are before us, establishing priorities is more important than ever. President Obama’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction is a move in the right direction. It can help begin to address America's economic problems while prioritizing the health and economic survival of older and low-income women and others who are more vulnerable than ever in this recession.
Colleen CurtisSeptember 21, 2011
09:30 AM EDT
A new poll finds that there has been a significant drop in the number of uninsured young Americans, thanks to provisions in the Affordable Care Act that allow them to stay on their parents' plans.
According to Gallup research, about one in four (24.2%) 18- to 25-year-olds reported being uninsured in the second quarter of this year, down from 28% in the third quarter of 2010, and nearly the lowest Gallup has measured at any point since it began tracking health insurance coverage rates in 2008.
And Gallup reports that the Affordable Care Act is responsible for the good news:
“The provision of the Affordable Care Act that allows children up to the age of 26 to remain on their parents' plans appears to be having an immediate effect on the number of Americans who report they have health insurance. Since it went into effect in September 2010, the percentage of 18- to 25-year-olds who report being uninsured has significantly declined by four percentage points.”
And the Associated Press notes “The new Gallup poll findings translate to about 1 million more young adults with health insurance.”
This afternoon, the Department of Health and Human Services will have another important announcement about the Affordable Care Act and young adults. Be sure to check back this afternoon for more details.
September 20, 2011
08:00 PM EDT
President Obama had a full day in New York City visiting the United Nations General Assembly to address a range of issues on the historic progress that has been made over the last year and the opportunities that lie ahead, including human rights abroad and the promotion of democracy.
The President began his day meeting with Transitional National Council (TNC) Chairman, Mustafa Abdel Jalil at the United Nations North Lawn Building.
Nikki SuttonSeptember 20, 2011
07:23 PM EDT
Today, at the U.N. General Assembly, President Obama addressed a meeting of international partners to show support for the new Libya and plan for a post-Qaddafi future:
The Libyan people are writing a new chapter in the life of their nation. After four decades of darkness, they can walk the streets, free from a tyrant. They are making their voices heard -- in new newspapers, and on radio and television, in public squares and on personal blogs. They’re launching political parties and civil groups to shape their own destiny and secure their universal rights. And here at the United Nations, the new flag of a free Libya now flies among the community of nations.
Make no mistake -- credit for the liberation of Libya belongs to the people of Libya. It was Libyan men and women -- and children -- who took to the streets in peaceful protest, who faced down the tanks and endured the snipers’ bullets. It was Libyan fighters, often outgunned and outnumbered, who fought pitched battles, town-by-town, block-by-block. It was Libyan activists -- in the underground, in chat rooms, in mosques -- who kept a revolution alive, even after some of the world had given up hope.
It was Libyan women and girls who hung flags and smuggled weapons to the front. It was Libyans from countries around the world, including my own, who rushed home to help, even though they, too, risked brutality and death. It was Libyan blood that was spilled and Libya’s sons and daughters who gave their lives. And on that August day -- after all that sacrifice, after 42 long years -- it was Libyans who pushed their dictator from power.
At the same time, Libya is a lesson in what the international community can achieve when we stand together as one. I said at the beginning of this process, we cannot and should not intervene every time there is an injustice in the world. Yet it’s also true that there are times where the world could have and should have summoned the will to prevent the killing of innocents on a horrific scale. And we are forever haunted by the atrocities that we did not prevent, and the lives that we did not save. But this time was different. This time, we, through the United Nations, found the courage and the collective will to act.
Valerie JarrettSeptember 20, 2011
06:38 PM EDT
In December, when President Obama signed the historic law that ended discrimination against gay and lesbian Americans serving in our armed forces, he told a story about one of his visits to Afghanistan. “A young woman in uniform was shaking my hand,” he said, “and other people were grabbing and taking pictures. And she pulled me into a hug and she whispered in my ear, ‘Get ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ done.’ And I said to her, ‘I promise you I will.’”
That promise made is now a promise kept. As of 12:01am today, “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is over. Already, gay and lesbian men and women have sent in their applications to proudly – and openly – serve the country we all love.
I’m delighted to celebrate with friends from around the country, who worked with President Obama to help make this day a reality. Repealing DADT certainly wasn’t easy. There were those who believed our President would not be able to accomplish such a difficult task.
But even when the odds appeared to be against him, President Obama never gave up. Just as I’ve seen him do time and time again during our 20 years of friendship, he demonstrated courage, vision, and the ability get things done. Together with a broad coalition of Americans who care deeply about the ideals of this country, he made this moment happen.
At a time when the President is calling on Congress to put politics aside and act in the greater interest of the American people, it’s important to recognize that elected leaders from both parties deserve credit for ending DADT. In December, I went to the Capitol Building to watch the Senate vote on repeal. I saw eight Republicans join their Democratic colleagues to vote “Yes.” It was a reminder that when the stakes are high enough, and the choice is clear enough, Congress can come together and do the right thing.
Of course, while the end of DADT is a milestone, we’ve got a long way to go. Even on this happy day, there are young people who face bullying at school, just because of their sexual orientation. There are LGBT Americans who still face discrimination, and are denied rights they deserve.
So we are not done fighting. But today, we remember that when we all come together to make this country a better place, change is not just possible. Change is inevitable. On behalf of myself, and the entire Obama Administration, I look forward to working with all of you as we continue our journey toward a more perfect union.
Kori SchulmanSeptember 20, 2011
06:36 PM EDT
We’re excited to announce that on Monday September 26th, President Obama will travel to Mountain View, California for a Town Hall with LinkedIn, the world's largest professional network. During the Town Hall, the President will answer questions about job creation and the economy from LinkedIn members across the country and hear directly from LinkedIn users who range from small business owners and employees to community college students to veterans.
What's your question for President Obama on job creation and the economy? Ask it now on LinkedIn.
You’re invited to participate in the Town Hall with President Obama through LinkedIn – ask questions, add comments, share content, and watch the event live. Following the Town Hall, White House Administration officials will continue to engage in the conversation with LinkedIn members about putting America back to work. We hope you’ll join us.
Nikki SuttonSeptember 20, 2011
06:23 PM EDT
This week, President Obama is in New York City for the United Nations General Assembly to meet with partners and address a range of issues with the international community, including open government.
At the U.N. General Assembly last year, President Obama called on nations to make, "specific commitments to promote transparency, to fight corruption, to energize civic engagement, and to leverage new technologies so we can strengthen the foundations of freedom in our own countries." Today, the President outlined the progress that has already been made in response to his call to action:
And now we see governments around the world meeting this challenge, including many represented here today. Countries from Mexico to Turkey to Liberia have passed laws guaranteeing citizens the right to information. From Chile to Kenya to the Philippines, civil society groups are giving citizens new tools to report corruption. From Tanzania to Indonesia -- and as I saw firsthand during my visit to India -- rural villages are organizing and making their voices heard, and getting the public services that they need. Governments from Brazil to South Africa are putting more information online, helping people hold public officials accountable for how they spend taxpayer dollars.
Here in the United States, we’ve worked to make government more open and responsive than ever before. We’ve been promoting greater disclosure of government information, empowering citizens with new ways to participate in their democracy. We are releasing more data in usable forms on health and safety and the environment, because information is power, and helping people make informed decisions and entrepreneurs turn data into new products, they create new jobs. We’re also soliciting the best ideas from our people in how to make government work better. And around the world, we’re standing up for freedom to access information, including a free and open Internet.
September 20, 2011
04:22 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross-posted from the Let's Move! blog.
On the sunniest of sunny days earlier this month at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Let's Move! was alive with action packed fun. The First Lady joined tennis greats Billie Jean King, John McEnroe, James Blake and Serena Williams in serving, lobbing and smashing tennis balls with children from the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program and the New York Junior Tennis League. The stars and First Lady kept up pretty well with the junior acers.
The occasion for the mini-tournament was to highlight the importance of physical activity and celebrate the US Tennis Association's (USTA) successful implementation of their commitments to build or refurbish thousands of tennis courts in cities all over the United States so that children and youth can have access to the "sport of a lifetime". The USTA was also demonstrating the new Ten-and-Under tennis courts that are making tennis accessible to more and more younger children. No longer will a seven-year-old get discouraged when the racquet is too heavy or the net is almost as tall as she is. Scaled down to child size, the new Ten-and-Under courts keep children in the center of the picture...right on center court.
Secretary Tom VilsackSeptember 20, 2011
12:17 PM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross-posted from the USDA Blog.
A week ago, President Obama released the American Jobs Act, a specific plan to jumpstart our economy and put Americans to work today. It contains ideas that both parties in Washington have supported. And yesterday, he laid out a plan that will pay for it – and for other long-term investments we need to stay competitive – while reducing our deficits.
His plan takes a balanced approach. It looks for savings across government. And it asks everyone to do their part and pay their fair share so we can live within our means.
For agriculture, the plan focuses on what the President and I believe is one of the most pressing challenges facing producers right now: maintaining a strong safety net and disaster assistance programs that will work for all farmers and ranchers, no matter what they produce or where.
The plan will strengthen our disaster assistance programs, which are currently set to run out of funding at the end of the month. It means that farmers knocked down by natural disaster can get their operations back on track. After witnessing flood, drought, hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires this year – I am even more certain of the importance of this component of the safety net.
By modernizing our crop insurance program and making modest changes to the subsidy that crop insurance companies receive, we’ll make sure that we improve the programs and implement them more efficiently.
Karen RichardsonSeptember 20, 2011
11:49 AM EDT
This week, President Obama is traveling to New York for the U.N. General Assembly. While he’s there, the President is meeting with leaders from some of our closest allies and partners to discuss our shared approach to pressing economic and security challenges. He’s working with leaders from around the world to forge global cooperation on key global challenges, including the transition in Libya and the launch of a new Open Government Partnership.
On Wednesday, the President will address the UN General Assembly, where he will address the historic progress that has been made around the world over the past year and discuss the opportunities ahead to enhance international security and peace. In remarks at the Clinton Global Initiative, the President will focus on the urgent need to create jobs and the need for Congress to pass the American Jobs Act.
On Friday, Ben Rhodes, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications and Speechwriting, will answer your questions on a range of issues that the President will discuss at the U.N. General Assembly this week. Be sure to tune in and ask your questions.
- What: Open for Questions with Ben Rhodes
- When: Friday, September 23 at 12:00 p.m. EDT
- Where: Watch the conversation live on WhiteHouse.gov/live and Facebook
- How: Submit your questions in advance via this webform or during the event via the Facebook chat application or Twitter using the hashtag #WHChat.
Rajiv ShahSeptember 20, 2011
11:16 AM EDT
Ed. Note: Cross-posted in part from the USAID IMPACTblog.
As many of you know, the worst drought in 60 years has devastated communities throughout the Horn of Africa, leaving more than 13 million people in a state of crisis—greater than the population of Los Angeles and New York combined.
In Somalia—where twenty years of war and violence has limited humanitarian access and destroyed the country’s ability to respond—the drought has led to an outbreak of famine. According to UNICEF, as a result of this crisis, a child is dying in Somalia every six minutes.
The millions suffering from the effects of this crisis are facing incomprehensible suffering. Left with nothing, many are walking more than 100 miles toward refugee camps in Kenya and Ethiopia.
Because the crisis in the Horn is so complex and because the scale is so difficult to comprehend, we have not seen people come together to respond in the same way they did after the earthquake in Haiti. Many who do hear about the crisis are left with the impression that we can’t successfully do anything about it.
But I know for a fact that we can fight this famine. We were fighting it before it started. Through safety net programs, we have helped 7.5 million Ethiopians withstand the worst effects of this drought without the need for humanitarian assistance.
And as a result of Feed the Future investments, we have seen more than a 300 percent increase in grain yields in Western Kenya in just one year, securing the nation’s agricultural backbone and helping lower the price of critical staples throughout the region.
But despite being the single largest donor of assistance in the region, we recognize we cannot fight the famine alone.
September 20, 2011
07:30 AM EDT
“In all parts of the world, we see the promise of innovation to make government more open and accountable. And now, we must build on that progress. And when we gather back here next year, we should bring specific commitments to promote transparency; to fight corruption; to energize civic engagement; to leverage new technologies so that we strengthen the foundations of freedom in our own countries, while living up to the ideals that can light the world.”
--President Barack Obama, September 23, 2010
On September 23, 2010, President Obama challenged the members of the United Nations General Assembly to work together to make all governments more open and accountable to their people. To meet that challenge, in July 2011, the United States and Brazil announced the creation of the Open Government Partnership (OGP) – a global initiative that supports efforts to promote more transparent, effective, and accountable institutions globally. The OGP effort builds directly on steps President Obama has taken since the first full day of his Administration to strengthen democracy and promote a more efficient and effective government through greater openness.
And today, as part the OGP effort, the U.S. and other members of the OGP Steering Committee are coming together in New York to welcome new members to the partnership and to unveil Open Government National Action Plans. As we developed a U.S. National Action Plan (“National Plan”), the Federal Government engaged in extensive consultations with external stakeholders, including a broad range of civil society groups and members of the private sector. We solicited input from the Administration’s own Open Government Working Group, comprised of senior-level representatives from executive branch departments and agencies. White House policymakers also engaged the public via a series of blog posts, requesting ideas about how to focus Open Government efforts on increasing public integrity, more effectively managing public resources, and improving public services.
Among the highlights of the Plan:
- “We the People.” The White House announced the launch of the “We the People” petition platform to give Americans a direct line to voice their concerns to the Administration via online petitions. In addition, the Administration plans to publish the source code of the new “We the People” petition platform so that it is available to any government around the world that seeks to solicit and respond to the concerns of the public.
- Whistleblower Protection. Recently, Congress nearly enacted whistleblower legislation that would eliminate loopholes in existing protections, provide protections for employees in the intelligence community, and create pilot programs to explore potential structural reforms in the remedial process. The Administration will continue to work with Congress to enact this legislation. But if Congress remains deadlocked, the Administration will explore options for utilizing executive branch authority to strengthen and expand whistleblower protections.
- Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative. The U.S. is committing to implementing the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI). EITI requires governments to publicly disclose their revenues from oil, gas, and mining assets, and for companies to make parallel disclosures regarding payments. By signing onto the global standard that EITI sets, the U.S. Government can help ensure that American taxpayers are receiving every dollar due for the extraction of these valuable public resources.
Other initiatives include: expanding the use of technology to achieve greater efficiencies in Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) administration; overhaul the public participation interface on regulations.gov to help the public find, follow, and participate in Federal rulemakings; and launching ExpertNet, a platform to communicate with citizens who have expertise on a pertinent topic. There are a lot of exciting initiatives in our Plan – too many to recount in this post – but you can view the full plan here .
At the President’s State of the Union Address in January 2011, he said that the American people deserve a government that is “open and competent.” Building on the efforts inaugurated by the Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, and the President’s continued leadership, we look forward to the work ahead.
Macon PhillipsSeptember 19, 2011
05:06 PM EDT
If you've ever been on a .gov site and thought, "Hey, this site could be a lot better," we want to hear from you. As part of President Obama's Campaign to Cut Waste and the Administration's overall commitment to improving customer service, we're taking a fresh look at how government information and services are delivered on the Internet.
Head over now to get started.
Here are some of the specific discussion topics:
- Improving content to make it more readable, engaging, and useful
- Improving how services and transactions are delivered
- Providing universal access to government content online, regardless of device or technology
- Optimizing the way the public is able to search for federal content, via federal websites and commercial search engines
- Ensuring content on federal websites is integrated with social media and other third-party websites
- Improving how federal websites protect privacy and security
- Reaching global audiences and people with limited English proficiency access federal websites
To help facilitate the conversation, a number of people from outside of government have agreed to serve as "catalysts" for the discussion and engage others on their comments to flesh out the best ideas. Here's what a few of them have to say about the project:
”Okay, the deal is that Fed workers are seriously interested in better customer service, etc, via their web ops. I've worked with these folks for years, they're the real deal, and are really listening.” –Craig Newmark, Founder & customer service rep craigslist.org and craigconnects.org
"Of course, diversity improves all things, especially ideas. Those of us who work on Internet-related things all practice differently. We all do things in ways that we have found better for one reason or another. That’s what they want to learn. Upload your wisdom so that we can all learn.” –Ed Mullen, Principal Edward Mullen Studio; Founder MixTrail
“Come one – come all! This is your chance to help the U.S. government figure out how to serve better, online. I told you a few weeks ago about the ground-breaking .Gov Reform initiative the White House and the General Services Administration have underway. In a nutshell, they’re taking a hard look at U.S. government websites and looking for ways to make them easier to use and more efficient and effective. And here’s the thing: they want you to be part of this discussion!”—Candi Harrison, Former Co-Chair, Federal Web Managers Council
“The .gov Reform Task Force is hip to the wisdom of crowds. Its leaders have invited citizen Catalysts – including Annetta Cheek, Craig Newmark, Steve Krug, Vanessa Fox, Lee Vann, Ed Mullen, Candi Harrison and others – to “spur and deepen the discussion.” In other words, they want all of us to encourage peers from specific communities of online practice to contribute to open, honest dialogue. Discussions will lead to improvements in the usefulness of web sites and web based services of US Federal government agencies. The Task Force really wants to hear from citizens – ALL citizens, including those with disabilities – about what we need and what we want from dot gov domains.”–Sharron Rush, Co-founder and Executive Director of Knowbility
“We know there is a goldmine of good ideas from this community, so we hope — and expect — that you’ll actively participate in the discussion and share your expertise and knowledge. We want to hear what’s working well, what can be improved, innovative ways to rethink the federal web, and specific examples you have from your industry or organization.” –Center for Plain Language
So join the discussion today and change the way our government does business online.
Colleen CurtisSeptember 19, 2011
01:49 PM EDT
President Obama today unveiled a plan for economic growth and deficit reduction that details how to pay for the American Jobs Act while also paying down our debt over time. The plan, which is being sent to the Congressional Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, offers a balanced approach to further reduce our nation’s deficit and get our fiscal house in order, based on the values of shared responsibility and shared sacrifice.
The President’s plan lays out a blueprint that will enable Washington to live within its means, something Americans across the country have been doing for years. And the balanced approach means that no one group has to bear the burden alone. It means that everyone – including millionaires and billionaires – has to pay their fair share.
Jack LewSeptember 19, 2011
11:43 AM EDT
Ed note: This has been cross-posted from the Office of Management and Budget's blog
The health of our economy depends on what we do right now to create the conditions where businesses can hire and middle-class families can feel a basic measure of economic security. In the long run, our prosperity also depends on our ability to pay down the massive debt the federal government has accumulated over the past decade. Today, the President sent to the Joint Committee his plan to jumpstart economic growth and job creation now – and to lay the foundation for it to continue for years to come.
The President’s Plan for Economic Growth and Deficit Reduction lives up to a simple idea: as a Nation, we can live within our means while still making the investments we need to prosper – from a jobs bill that is needed right now to long-term investments in education, innovation, and infrastructure. It follows a balanced approach: asking everyone to do their part, so no one has to bear all the burden. And it says that everyone – including millionaires and billionaires – has to pay their fair share.
Overall, it pays for the American Jobs Act and produces net savings of more than $3 trillion over the next decade, on top of the roughly $1 trillion in spending cuts that the President already signed into law in the Budget Control Act – for a total savings of more than $4 trillion over the next decade. This would bring the country to a place, by 2017, where current spending is no longer adding to our debt, debt is falling as a share of the economy, and deficits are at a sustainable level.
Kori SchulmanSeptember 19, 2011
09:37 AM EDT
After President Obama signed the America Invents Act, the White House hosted a live video chat to answer your questions on the historic patent reform legislation. The bill will help American entrepreneurs and businesses get their inventions to the marketplace sooner so they can turn their ideas into new products and new jobs. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office David Kappos sat down to answer your questions submitted through Facebook and Twitter.
Watch the whole video of the Open for Questions event, or use the links below to jump directly to the questions that you're interested in. Follow @WhiteHouse on Twitter for more opportunities to engage with us.
September 17, 2011
06:05 PM EDT
From investigating crooks who swindle Americans out of their retirement savings to helping the terminally and seriously ill get the benefits they’ve earned quickly, federal employees work hard each and every day to serve the American people. This past Thursday, 34 great Federal workers and teams were honored as finalists for the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medal; there were nine winners. Sponsored by the non-profit Partnership for Public Service and at no cost to the taxpayers, the “Sammies,” as they’re known, recognize the outstanding achievements of Federal workers. They do some amazing things that you really need to hear about first hand to appreciate.
Along with members of the Cabinet and Congress and other distinguished guests, we had the privilege of meeting them at the awards dinner and learning about their achievements. Here’s just a sample:
- A scientist who did the critical analysis that helped end the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.
- A Justice Department staffer who helps find missing persons – some who have been missing for many years – with an innovative database that brings together information from different states.
- A NASA team that used their experience sustaining astronauts in space to keep trapped Chilean miners alive deep underground and ultimately rescue them.
- A Veterans Affairs staffer who has built a network of 300 Vet Centers that help hundreds of thousands of Veterans adjust to civilian life with counseling and job assistance.
- A radiation researcher who adapted America’s nuclear emergency plans to help Japan respond to the recent nuclear crisis.
- A doctor called “America’s leading medical detective,” who helps people suffering with diseases so rare, they don’t even have names.
This is just a small taste of what Federal employees do every day to make all of our lives better. Their impact spans the globe and the breadth of the human experience, and the finalists come from all corners of our country. I hope you’ll take a moment to read through the profiles of this year’s finalists and winnersand be inspired. We certainly were.
Their work is hard, it’s urgent work, and at times it’s thankless. But not on Sammies night. The Partnership for Public Service does an incredible job putting this event together each year. They sort through stacks of nominees to find the very best—and it can’t be easy, because so many Federal workers do amazing work every day.
Once more, congratulations to the winners, and thanks to the Partnership!