Since 1985, the first Sunday in May starts off what has been officially designated by Congress as Public Service Recognition Week (PSRW), a time to honor those who work in local, state, and federal government. Organized by the Public Employees Roundtable, events range from a Congressional breakfast and a 5K run/walk in Washington, DC, to school children all over the county meeting the people who make their town councils tick. National or local, small or large, black tie required or blue jeans recommended, to capture the spirit of PSRW, a commemoration only needs one ingredient to be successful, a genuine appreciation for America's hardworking public servants.
How Many Public Servants Are There?
According to the U.S. Census Bureau's Annual Survey of Public Employment & Payroll Summary in March of 2013, the combined full time workforce for federal, state, and local governments totaled 21.8 million civilians. Here is the breakdown:
- 2.7 million full time federal employees
- 5.3 million full time state employees
- 13.8 million full time local government employees
- 4.8 million part-time state and local employees
What Would We Do Without Them?
Explore the Did You Know section of the PSRW Toolkit and you will find a list of discoveries, inventions, and milestones that all have one thing in common, public servants were behind them. Here is a sample of their accomplishments:
- First moonwalk (Neil Armstrong)
- The "Do Not Call List"
- Black Holes
- Instrument landing systems on commercial and military airlines
- Tsunami detection systems
- CAT scans
- Bar code scanners
- Smoke detectors
- Black box locators
- GPS technology
Famous Public Servants
All employees who serve their communities are stars, but some of them go on to be famous as well. Check out this list of people who were once public servants:
- Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa - Economist for the Office of Management and Budget
- Dr. Seuss - Illustrator for the U.S. Department of the Treasury
- Walt Disney - Chicago mailman
- Clara Barton - U.S. Patent Office
- Julia Child - Secret researcher for the Office of Strategic Services, a US intelligence agency
- Wanda Sykes - Contract specialist at the National Security Agency
- Brian Williams - Firefighter
- Dennis Farina - Chicago police officer
In addition to civil servants who became famous, some famous people aspire to civil service:
- Shaquille O'Neal - Reserve police officer in Doral, FL
- Erik Estrada - Reserve police officer in St. Anthony, ID
Move Over Oscar
Speaking of stars, public servants have their own version of the Oscars, known as the Samuel. J Heyman Service to America Medals or Sammies. Right now, they are limited to federal employees, but many state and local governments, and Native American tribes have their own ways of recognizing employee contributions throughout the year . Sammies have six categories, including a Management Excellence Medal. Nominees for each year are announced during Public Service Recognition Week, and the honorees are celebrated at a gala in the Fall. WaPo has a complete list of the 32 finalist for last year, here are just a few:
- Hongwei Hsiao (National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health) – Created protective equipment for construction workers and truck drivers.
- Thomas Gordon Morris (Small Business Administration) revamped a program that generates $6 billion in private investments.
- Jean Gustetic (White House Office of Science and Technology Policy) crowd-sourced citizen brain power for problem solving.
- Lisa M. Jones (Department of the Treasury) – helped low-income communities increase investment capital for health-care centers, charter schools and other vital projects.
- Edward Grace (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) – investigated illegal rhino horn and ivory smugglers.
- Kimya Lee (Office of Personnel Management) – conducted a survey to help managers understand how employees view their workplace.
- Carrie Stokes (U.S. Agency for International Development) combated poverty through satellite data and geographic information.
How Many Hats Do You Wear?
Since the focus of this blog is special revenue and grants, we give an extra thanks to all those who are involved in any part of the grant cycle for the difference they make in their communities. Who can take the credit for behind-the-scenes efforts to keep vital programs and services up and running? Grant writers, grant administrators, and all those who hold the title grant professional rightly come to mind! But civil servants often wear many hats. According to the Definitive Guide to Grant Funding, there are over 213 titles that research grants and 167 different titles that create grant applications. Just a smattering of professionals who are involved in this all important function include:
- Administrative Assistants
- Animal Control Officers
- Chamber of Commerce Officials
- Chief Financial Officers
- City Clerks
- City Managers/Assistant City Managers
- City/County Prosecutors
- Contract Administrators
- Contract and Procurement Managers
- County Administrators
- Elected Officials
- Fire and EMS Personnel
- Fiscal Service Directors
- Health Department Specialists
- Intergovernmental Relations Officers
- Law Enforcement Personnel
- Marketing and Development Officers
- Office of Tourism Employees
- Parks & Recreation Employees
- Planning and Zoning Staff
- Public Works Staff
- Public Defenders
- Senior Policy Advisers
- Special Projects Liaisons
- Strategic Planners/Analysts
- Tribal Chairpersons
- Water/Utility Employees
If you are any of the 213 job titles specifically mentioned above, thank you, thank you thank you.! If you are any of the 213 job titles that were not specifically mentioned, thank you, thank you, thank you! Our gratitude belongs to all of you!
Grateful for Grant Impacts
Although performance metrics are part of modern life, we all know that the complete impact of a grant can never be fully measured. If a STEM enrichment program is the matrix for students who go on to cure diseases, fight climate change, or better predict earth quakes, how can that fully be quantified? Can we ever capture the true value of the house that did not burn, the car crash that did not happen, the teenager who did not overdose, all because they benefited from prevention outreach? One little grant application can ripple and ripple and ripple, years, decades and perhaps even centuries into the future. William James said "The great use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it." On our PSRW whiteboard, we heartily thank all public servants, those involved in grants and otherwise, for using your lives in exactly this way!