Thank you, Lee [Lofthus], for those kind words – and for all that you, Glenn [Kivlen], and your colleagues have done to bring us together for today’s program. It’s a pleasure, as always, to share the stage with you. And it’s a privilege to join JMD’s Deputy Assistant Attorneys General and other Department leaders in celebrating the achievements of our dedicated colleagues; in thanking these hardworking men and women for their service and sacrifice over the past year; and in congratulating so many passionate public servants on the prestigious and well-deserved recognitions they are about to receive.
It’s a special 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. It’s great to have you with us today. And I want to thank each of you for your contributions to the Justice Department’s critical work.
Each day, dedicated Justice Management Division employees – both in and beyond this room – help to deliver on the promise of equality, opportunity, and justice that has always defined this nation, and driven the work of this Department. Every employee in this Division plays an essential role in maximizing Department resources, improving our organizational effectiveness, supporting our colleagues across the nation, and carrying out some of the most difficult and important work in all of government. From providing assistance in our recruitment efforts – enabling this Department to develop and retain a diverse and highly-qualified workforce – to setting budgets and ensuring sound financial controls; from securing information networks and maintaining our state-of-the-art law library, to keeping our facilities safe, secure, and operational; from providing invaluable legal and ethical guidance, to ensuring equal employment opportunities – all of your work is essential. All of your contributions are vital. And all of you enable us to take significant steps forward every year.
Particularly during the last 12 months – which have been defined by sequestration, other unprecedented budgetary difficulties, and even the personal hardships imposed by a government shutdown – I know this Division’s work has in many ways never been more difficult. But, thanks to the award recipients before me – and your colleagues throughout JMD – it’s also never been stronger. Despite the complex and evolving challenges you’ve faced, each of you has accomplished a great deal. And you’ve made your country, your Department – and this Attorney General – proud.
This afternoon, we single out 75 outstanding JMD employees, colleagues from other offices and components – and a dedicated team from the U.S. Department of Agriculture – who have gone above and beyond the call of duty over the past year – demonstrating extraordinary expertise, commitment, and hard work. We salute their tireless actions in helping to plan for and mitigate the effects of sequestration. We thank them for their efforts in pioneering new approaches to maximize efficiency and effectiveness. And we applaud their leadership in enabling the Justice Department to become the first major federal agency to respond to President Obama’s call for a policy to prevent domestic violence and address its effects on our workforce.
Through their hard work, each of our awardees has helped to leverage vital resources and improve the way we do business. You have shown the power of innovation, energy, and creativity by uniting a broad array of partners to streamline the Department’s operations and bolster information-sharing. Some of you have worked to identify and implement opportunities for savings through mail processing, facilities, and technology enhancements – as well as a wide range of consolidation projects. Others are being recognized for your efforts to ensure that well over 100,000 Department employees received retroactive pay within days after last year’s government shutdown. Most impressively, you’ve accomplished all of this, and a good deal more, at a time when we’ve all been forced to contend with extraordinary resource constraints.
We can all be encouraged that, in the year ahead, these constraints will be lessened by the bipartisan budget agreement that President Obama recently signed into law. As you know, this legislation has enabled us to lift the hiring freeze that’s been in place for just over three years. And it will allow us to begin bringing on the essential staff we need to keep advancing the Department’s mission – and keep delivering a valuable return for American taxpayers.
So as you move forward with the important work we’ve gathered to celebrate – and look to the challenges that undoubtedly lie ahead – 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. I know I speak for President Obama and others throughout the Administration – as well as the American people we’re privileged to serve – when I say “thank you” for your service; for your leadership; and for everything that you continue to help us achieve. I look forward to all that we will accomplish together in the days to come. And I congratulate you, once again, on these prestigious awards.