Posted at 12:43 PM
Yesterday, I had the honor of presenting awards to outstanding employees at the Commerce Department’s 66th annual Gold and Silver Honor Awards ceremony.
The Gold and Silver Honor Awards are the highest honor that the agency can give to a Commerce Department employee. They showcase the extraordinary skills and talents of the best and brightest employees of the Department. These employees strive to make a profound difference through their work by not just setting goals, but exceeding goals, and they are models of the very best in excellence in public service.
While I was reading through the list of honorees before the event, I was struck by how many of the award winners are teams. Success is a team sport. And the winners worked together to move Commerce’s mission forward. That is what makes the Department of Commerce one of the best places to work in the entire federal government, as awarded by the Partnership for Public Service last year.
It was an esteemed privilege to honor these exceptional employees who demonstrated their skill, commitment, passion and professionalism throughout the country. Through tireless trials and commitment to the improvement of the safety, security, prosperity, and quality of life of our citizens and our nation, this new legion of trailblazers developed rapid forensic DNA typing techniques that enables state of the art human identity testing and DNA biometrics to leading the development of an innovative consensus framework to improve the cybersecurity of our nation's critical infrastructure. They also (in a sheer show of heroism) performed a lifesaving rescue of an adult and dog trapped in an apartment fire.
Whether by individual, agency, office, laboratory or team effort, they came together in support of a single historic mission – to improve the conditions for American businesses to grow, prosper, and create new jobs.
The Gold Medal Award recognizes distinguished performance characterized by extraordinary, notable or prestigious contributions that impacted the mission of the Department of Commerce. The Silver Medal Award and second highest honor recognizes exceptional performance characterized by noteworthy or superlative contributions that have a direct and lasting impact within the Department.
Both awards are given in the categories of leadership, personal and professional excellence, scientific/engineering achievement, organizational development, customer service, administrative/technical support, and heroism.
Here are some examples of the outstanding agency teams that received awards this year:
- The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) for aiding the Nobel-Peace Prize-winning Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons and the U.N. Joint Mission in Syria to verify the destruction of some of Syria’s most difficult to destroy chemicals.
- The Economic Development Administration (EDA) for directing the first-ever multi-agency competitive initiative of its kind to help accelerate the resurgence of manufacturing and good-paying manufacturing jobs in the U.S.
- The Economics and Statistics Administration (ESA), in conjunction with the National Endowment for the Arts, for creating the first set of measures of the impact of arts and culture on the U.S. Economy.
- The International Trade Administration (ITA), for executing a highly successful White House and government-wide event to promote new job-creating business investment into the United States.
- The National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST), for cutting research time for forensic DNA typing from about 8 hours to 90 minutes – a process that has been commercially adopted by manufacturers and widely used in mass disasters, military operations, and criminal investigations.
- The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) for developing a new technology that improves weather and warning services for severe events like tornadoes, flash floods, and winter weather.
- The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) for developing extremely timely new federal transition plans for repurposing 40MHZ of spectrum for innovative wireless broadband services.
- The Office of Inspector General (OIG) for developing new analytical tools – including estimating the monetary impact of fraud, waste and abuse, to strengthen audits and investigations.
- The Office of the General Counsel (OGC) for playing a key role in creating a “single window” form for businesses to provide all federal data necessary for importing or exporting cargo; and
- The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) for creating and developing the Patents for Humanity program to reward innovators addressing global challenges such as food, water, medicine, and energy.
I am proud of our Commerce employees' contributions to improving the conditions for economic growth. Congratulations to the recipients and their families on this great achievement. I look forward to seeing the amazing endeavors achieved in the coming year.