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Positively Defiant – How These Feds Focus On Mission

Furloughed feds were on display last night at the annual Service to America Medals. The Oscars for federal employees.

The Sammies bring together the best and the brightest career employees to honor their work at the annual gala. But this year’s Sammies were marred by the government shutdown. Four of the winners are on furlough without pay.

The situation, unprecedented in the Sammies’ 12-year history, makes “recognizing government excellence even more important,” Max Stier, president of the partnership, said in an interview. “This is not the way for us to be running our government and the consequences are enormous. These stories demonstrate why.”

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter noted the “really stupid circumstances” surrounding the event, declaring, “this is no way to treat patriots.” And Office of Management and Budget Director Sylvia Mathews Burwell had the understatement of the night: “It hasn’t been the easiest week for any of us.”

Despite the elephant in the room all the honorees expressed their passion for federal work and their desire to get back to doing their jobs. In what we are calling positively defiant, the Sammies captured the government worker’s plight to just return to the business of government.

The winners were chosen from among 31 finalists. An honorary citation is going to Antonio Mendez, a retired CIA operative whose work in spiriting a half-dozen American diplomats out of Iran in 1980 inspired the Oscar-winning film, “Argo.”

Below are some of our favorite winners from the 2013 Sammies.

Kevin T. Geiss of the Air Force saved his agency $1 billion in 2012 alone with an innovative effort to cut energy costs. But now he’s sitting at home, awaiting the end of the shutdown. “If that’s not gross mismanagement,” said Partnership President Max Stier, “I don’t know what is.”

It has been our honor here at GovLoop to interview most of the Sammies finalists. You can see all their stories here.

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