Prepared Remarks for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan at the 2009 Service to America Medals Finalist Luncheon

Washington, D.C.
Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

Thank you.

I first want to recognize Max Stier and the Partnership for Public Service for their hard work on the 2009 Service to America Medals.

I'd also like to thank the Partnership for Public Service for their unwavering commitment to supporting our public servants and bringing new talent into government at all levels.

Just last week, I had the opportunity to work with the Partnership on a webcast aimed at recruiting talented college graduates from across the country to come work at HUD. I know that this is just the beginning of a very valuable partnership between the Obama Administration, HUD, and the Partnership for Public Service.

It's really an honor for me to be here today to celebrate the accomplishments of the 30 finalists for the 2009 Service to America Medals. Being a finalist for these awards means that of all the federal government employees across the country, you have made the most significant contributions to our nation through your federal service. You all have stood out and gone above and beyond the call of duty and I am here today to say thank you for your outstanding work.

I am especially proud that one of HUD's own staff members is a finalist being honored today: Michael German. Over the last four years, Mr. German, in his role as National Team Leader of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, has been key to the Council's results-oriented partnerships with governors, mayors, and county executives across the nation to prevent and end homelessness.

The Council, revitalized at the federal level in 2002, is the independent federal agency charged to coordinate the federal response to homelessness and to create national partnerships with every level of government and the private sector to achieve results. Mr. German, a HUD employee, has coordinated the Council's implementation strategy for the field and provides the high-level and experienced leadership, engagement, and coordination essential to the Council's success. Thank you, Michael, for your incredible dedication and hard work on fighting such an uphill battle against homelessness. We're very proud of the great work you've done.

There really is no time more exciting to be working in the federal government than right now. With President Obama in office, there is a tangible energy around government reform in our country. In all of our work and in your accomplishments, we have the potential to create enthusiasm about public service not seen since the days of John F. Kennedy. Like President Obama has said, we must "make government cool again."

There's also no more important time to be working in the federal government than right now as we work to quickly and effectively respond to the twin challenges of a national economic and housing crisis. These crises have demanded the very best from all of us, and I want to particularly thank those of you here today for demonstrating such commitment and leadership in federal government during this time of national hardship.

In recognizing your efforts here today, we are doing more than congratulating our 30 finalists. We are sending a powerful message to the American people about the importance of public service. We are saying with our actions that innovation, creativity, and hard work are valued in government. We are demonstrating to all the critics out there that government is and will continue to be a powerful agent for change and progress in our country. Thank you for being a visible demonstration of that larger message.

To respond to our country's most pressing challenges in the months and years to come and continue your legacy of hard work and innovation, our federal government also needs to attract new talent that will bring a fresh perspective and new ideas to the workplace.

One of my top priorities in my first year as the Secretary of HUD is to attract a broad base of young talent to our agency. In attracting new talent, we must sell federal government as a place where exciting innovations happen, successful careers are built, and where most importantly - the lives of American families are directly impacted by our work.

Thank you so much for showing with your actions and your work ethic that such a vision for public service in the federal government is a reality. You are all truly inspirational and I am so proud to take part in today's ceremony recognizing your efforts. I hope that you continue to be leaders across the government and encourage your fellow employees across departments to follow in your footsteps. I feel good leaving here today knowing that as we work together in government to address the challenges facing our communities and our nation, you are all out there striving for success and making the federal government - and our country - a better place.

Thanks again to the Partnership for Public Service and I wish you all the best of luck in the rest of the selection process.


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