Was this page helpful?

Remarks by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the Partnership for Public Service


Introduced by Max Stier, CEO of the Partnership for Public Service.

Thank you, Max, for that kind introduction. 

It is my pleasure to be here, and to be with the finalists for the highly selective “Sammies” awards. These include, I am proud to say, three from the U.S. Department of Commerce. 

And, though I’ve been advised by our ethics attorneys that I am not allowed to lobby for these Commerce finalists — I would if I could! 

Congratulations to all of you for making it this far in the process.

Over two centuries ago, our Founding Fathers knew the importance of creating a viable and lasting government structure, one that would provide its citizens with the freedom and opportunity to succeed in their personal pursuits.

They knew that a successful nation is dependent upon a successful government. And a successful government is dependent on the dedication, talent, and adaptability of the men and women who report to work every day to make our country better, safer, and more prosperous.

Without good governance, a society suffers in every aspect of its being: morally, financially, emotionally, intellectually, psychologically. 

Our citizens cannot lose faith in their civil servants.

We must honor our outstanding government workers, for we fully understand how important they are to the efficient operation of our society. 

We also look to all of our civil servants to take responsibility to perform at the highest levels of their ability. They must embrace the digital revolution that has radically transformed our private sector.

We must stay relevant, stay attuned to the demands of the electorate, and understand intuitively the pressures upon our government to transform and stay ahead of the times, and not be a drag on progress. Such acuity requires the ability of our public servants to learn new skills, be innovative, and transform their programs to remain relevant. And this is what all of the finalists here today have done.

We honor your commitment to public service.

We applaud your pursuit of the long-term interests of the American people, and American society. And we implore you to motivate others in your ranks to rise to the leadership challenges that confront every aspect of government operation.

While we celebrate our finalists, we must also honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for their service to the country.

Just this past weekend, the Commerce Department lost Chelsea Decaminada, who was seriously injured in the April 21st terrorist attack in Sri Lanka. Chelsea was an International Program Specialist in our Commercial Law Development Program working on legal reform projects in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Indo Pacific. Before this, she served honorably in the Peace Corps as a Community Health Volunteer in Tanzania. Chelsea embodied the exceptional American characteristic of altruism; promoting the adoption of the rule of law for the success of developing nations; and helping humanity live up to its potential. She died from those wounds on Saturday.

I cannot tell you how sorry we are about her death. We are grief-stricken. 

It is a stark reminder of the sacrifices our public servants are making every day to help improve the livelihoods of millions of Americans, and people everywhere on the planet.

Our prayers are with her family and friends.

Thank you, I congratulate all of you on being such great public servants and role models.