Leaping Tall Buildings, Fed Style

Thursday - 5/6/2010, 4:00am EDT

Usually I don't go public with my busy and exciting social schedule. It would be a cruel thing to do.

I mean why make you guys in Fargo or Nashville envy my Inside-the-Beltway jet-set lifestyle (i.e. put out trash, get suet for bird-feeder, rotate tires, replace ant traps, buy new pair of socks) for no good reason. That would be cruel. But...

Tonight I'm dining with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and more than 70 of the world's best career federal civil servants. My first thought was to do it at my house, maybe in the backyard. But the folks at the Senior Executives Association said they were going, for the 25th year in a row, to stick with the State Department for this black tie affair. Whatever.

Anyhow the point is to honor the 2009 winners of the Presidential Distinguished Rank Awards. Trust me it's a very, very big deal.

These men and women work alongside many of you. And they have done the bureaucratic equivalent of moved mountains and walked on water. I'd list them here but in so doing I would break an embargo set by the Senior Executive Association which controls the highly-sought-after tickets to this event.

But although we can't publish the award winners names until Friday, we can tell you what some of them did. Check it out and be proud. These are people you work with, for, or who report to you. Although they don't make the big bucks, this has gotta be more rewarding than being with Enron or Goldman Sachs.

Here, according to SEA President Carol A. Bonosaro, is what some of them will be honored for:

  • Developing autonomous and cooperative control of Unmanned and Micro Air Vehicles and robust control for high-agile, low-observable, tailless fighters. He is now developing ways to control platforms that can hide in plain sight.
  • Chairing negotiation of the Air Transport Agreement with the EU which encompasses 60 % of global civil aviation traffic and will yield up to 26 million new passengers and $ 9 billion in economic growth. He achieved a liberalization accord with China with an estimated economic value of over $ 17 billion.
  • Orchestrating an Economic Stimulus Payment outreach effort known as "Super Saturday"- which ensured that over 20 million taxpayers who did not have a filing requirement could prepare and file the returns necessary to receive the 2008 stimulus payment.
  • Early in his career, as the director of a small rural hospital, developing the most advanced telemedicine delivery system in the country, including the first tele-robotics pathology system in the world, enabling the hospital to utilize the services of pathologists and radiologists over 200 miles away.
  • Working with other Federal and state agencies to successfully investigate and prosecute Boston "Big Dig" cases, four of which were settled with contractors agreeing to pay the US and the state over $ 500 million.
  • Doing pioneering research that led to the development of ringspot virus-resistant papaya that saved Hawaii's second most important food crop. He received the Alexander von Humbolt Award, given for the most significant accomplishment in American agriculture in the last 5 years.
  • Leading implementation of the Presidential Transition Act, working with both campaigns prior to - and with the Office of the President-elect following - the election.
  • Working on development of a Microshutter Array for the Near Infrared Spectrometer for the James Webb Space Telescope - the planned successor to the Hubble Telescope - to provide insight into the formation and early evolution of galaxies in the universe by vastly increasing the number of distant galaxies observed at once.
  • Developing new technologies and capabilities for investigating and prosecuting child exploitation cases, including targeting and shutting down a sophisticated online enterprise which traded over 400,000 images.
  • Leading the development and implementation of tools and processes that reduced by $ 12 billion annually improper Medicare payments to health care providers. She built a coalition which prevented disruption of care for 300,000 nursing home residents when 5 of the largest chains in the country filed for bankruptcy
  • Inventing a quantum well infrared photodetector, the highest performance, large format, infrared imaging camera ever developed. Such sensors are now deployed worldwide by the military and have found use in civilian applications such as cancer diagnostics.
  • Eliminating redundancies between the DoD and VA disability systems so that a single physical exam is conducted, cutting in half the time required to achieve disability determinations and deliver entitled benefits.
  • Negotiating and implementing a claims agreement with Libya that is providing $ 1.5 billion to hundreds of American victims of terrorism. He also devised and negotiated a multilateral arrangement that led to the release of Bulgarian nurses falsely accused of - and sentenced to death for - infecting Libyan children with HIV
  • Initiating an investigation which led to the indictment of 11 perpetrators involved in the hacking, theft and sale of over 40 million credit and debit card numbers.
  • Directing a retail Internet site with sales of over $ 17 billion and systems which affect the 55 million owners of savings bonds and marketable securities worth $ 272 billion, as well as the 40,000 financial institutions selling and redeeming bonds.
  • Developing and implementing the Secure Freight Initiative which utilizes advanced technology to examine US bound containers, with protocol agreements secured with 6 foreign countries.
  • Crafting solutions and brokering streamlining initiatives which reduced time for post traumatic stress disorder claims from 200 days to 2 weeks and eliminated the almost 6,000 claim backlog.
  • Managing a $ 32 billion annual budget, equivalent to # 77 on the Fortune 500 list. An Admiral once characterized him as the "most talented executive I've ever met, a national treasure."
  • Establishing the Acid Rain Program, the first "cap and trade" program, which is providing over $ 120 billion of public health and environmental benefits, and collaborating with China to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions. He operates the most effective public-private partnership to address climate change, the ENERGY STAR program, which saved consumers over $16 billion in 2007 alone and reduced emissions equivalent to 27 million vehicles. His staff has shared in the Nobel Peace Prize for their work with the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and he received the Dales Memorial Leadership in Environmental Markets Award, given previously to only two others, including the CEO of General Electric.