Government shutdown casts shadow over awards for federal workers

BY News Desk  October 4, 2013 at 2:30 PM EST

Sam Kittner/Kittner.com

The Partnership for Public Service has announced the winners of the 2013 Service to America Medals. However, ironically, of the nine recipients, four are furloughed due to the ongoing government shutdown.The others are working without pay, though Congress is likely to pass a measure authorizing back pay once the shutdown ends. President Barack Obama said he supports that bill.
The Service to America Medals, also known as the “Sammies,” are presented to outstanding public servants whose accomplishments have “improved the lives of countless Americans and others around the world.”

This year’s top medal, Federal Employee of the Year, was presented to Dr. Julie Segre and Dr. Tara Palmore and their team at the National Institutes of Health for their work in identifying and stopping hospital-acquired infections.

However, as Segre, Palmore, and the rest of the 2013 recipients received their service medals, the government shutdown loomed large.

In his opening remarks at the award ceremony, Stier referred to the shutdown saying, “This is an abysmal way to run our government and real harm is being done.

One of the furloughed workers is Kevin Geiss, the recipient of the 2013 Management and Excellence Medal. Geiss serves as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Energy for the Air Force. He was honored for his energy reforms, which saved the Air Force $1 billion in 2012 alone.

Geiss talked with The Washington Post about the shutdown and said, “My main frustration is I am prevented from serving my country. That’s why I became a government employee, and that’s why I look forward to getting back.”

Jeffrey Brown interviews Geiss on the NewsHour Friday night. Tune in at 6 p.m. ET.