Thank you, Mythili [Raman] – and thank you for your outstanding leadership as Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division. It’s a pleasure to share the stage with you this afternoon. And it’s a privilege to join Deputy Attorney General [Jim] Cole – and all of the Division’s Deputy Assistant Attorneys General – in celebrating the achievements of so many dedicated colleagues; thanking these hardworking men and women, and their families, for their service and sacrifice over the past year; and congratulating them on the prestigious and well-deserved recognitions they’re about to receive.
It’s an honor to help welcome all of the proud family members, friends, and distinguished guests who have taken the time to be here in the Great Hall, and whose support has been essential to everything that our awardees have accomplished. Make no mistake: every one of you shares in the honors that we are about to bestow.
I’d particularly like to recognize the family of our dear colleague Linda Samuel – who will be honored posthumously today for her leadership, over more than two decades, in combating transnational crime. The impact of Linda’s work, and the efforts of those she taught and mentored, will continue to be felt within the Criminal Division and across the country for many years to come. And I want her loved ones to know that they have earned the thanks of a grateful nation.
Each day, dedicated Criminal Division employees like Linda – both in and beyond this room – help to deliver on the fundamental promise of safety, opportunity, and equal justice that has always defined this nation, and driven the work of this Department. Over the past year – in cities and towns across the country – our awardees and their colleagues have fought to improve public safety; to keep dangerous criminals off the streets; to crack down on financial and health care fraud; to address public corruption; and to safeguard the most vulnerable members of society from violence, exploitation, and abuse. In the face of evolving challenges and nearly unprecedented budgetary difficulties, their work is enabling this Department to make remarkable – and, in many cases, historic – progress in fulfilling the responsibilities we share. And, although today we single out 150 attorneys, investigators, paralegals, and support staff members for their extraordinary achievements during 2013, these awards stand as testament to the exemplary service that’s rendered by thousands of public servants at every level of this Division.
From securing the largest criminal resolution in U.S. history – to hold accountable those responsible for the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, and to help Gulf Coast residents recover from that tragedy – to implementing innovative “Smart on Crime” reforms that will recalibrate America’s criminal justice system for the 21st century, you’re delivering tangible results, and improving outcomes, for millions of people across America. By forging and strengthening international partnerships to combat transnational organized crime, vigorously enforcing protections like the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and protecting the American people from violent crime, identity theft, health care fraud, and financial misconduct – you’re building upon the advances that have defined one of the most effective Criminal Divisions in Justice Department history. You’re ensuring our nation’s security, reducing violence, supporting victims, and strengthening communities that are too often devastated by poverty, incarceration, and crime. And you’re doing it all in a time when sequestration, gridlock, and government shutdown have imposed significant hardships on your families – and made your jobs, in some respects, more difficult than ever before.
I am hopeful that – in the year ahead – these strains will be lessened by the resources provided to the Department by the bipartisan budget agreement that President Obama recently signed into law. I am pleased that this legislation will provide for the hiring of numerous federal agents, investigators, prosecutors, and other essential personnel – so we can build on the extraordinary work you’ve made possible; so we can begin to restore the more than 4,000 critical staff members the Department has lost over the last three years due to budget constraints; and so we can provide public servants like you with the resources you need to keep protecting the American people and delivering a valuable return for taxpayers.
Each of the contributions we’ve come together to recognize – and the awardees we’ve gathered to honor – has made a meaningful, measurable difference in the lives of countless Americans. I know I speak for leaders throughout the Administration – as well as the American people we’re privileged to serve – when I say “thank you” for your service. Thank you for your leadership. And thank you for everything that you continue to help us achieve.
In the months ahead, as we pledge to build on these efforts, recommit ourselves to the work that remains our common cause – and keep striving to make the progress our citizens deserve – I want you to know how proud I am to count you as colleagues. I am inspired by your service and sacrifice over the past year. And I look forward to all that we can – and surely will – achieve together in the days to come.
Congratulations, once again, on these prestigious awards – and keep up the great work.