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Attorney General Eric Holder Speaks at the60th Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony


Washington, DC
United States

Thank you, Jim, for those kind words – and good afternoon, everyone. It’s a pleasure to be in such great company today, and a privilege to join you in welcoming this extraordinary group of colleagues, friends, supporters, family members – and, especially, this year’s award recipients – to the 60th Annual Attorney General’s Awards Ceremony.

I’m honored to share this special day with each of you. I’d like to thank Deputy Assistant Attorney General Mari Barr Santangelo – and her colleagues from across the Justice Management Division – for all they’ve done to make it a success. And I’d particularly like to recognize all of the current and former Department leaders – and other distinguished guests – who are here this afternoon, including our former Associate Attorney General – and my good friend – Tom Perrelli. It’s great to have you with us.

As we come together to celebrate the remarkable achievements – and honor the tremendous sacrifices – of this year’s 339 awardees, I’m especially grateful for this opportunity to personally thank you – not only for your contributions, but for the inspiring examples you’ve set; the steady courage you’ve shown; and the lasting difference you’ve helped to make in the lives of countless Americans across the country. Each of you has come to exemplify the best of what it means to be a dedicated – and selfless – public servant. And there’s no question that you’ve had an enduring impact on the Justice Department’s work.

Over the past year, the men and women before me have stood out – and brought out the best in their colleagues. They’ve embodied the spirit of service – and upheld the tradition of excellence – that have always defined this Department’s most critical efforts. They stand among the finest and most talented lawyers, law enforcement professionals, support staff members, paralegals, analysts, and experts that our country has to offer. And they’ve helped to complete some of the most challenging – and, too often, dangerous – work in all of government.

Here in Washington – and in offices throughout the nation – today’s awardees have taken steps to advance the cause of justice – and to ensure that our legal system is accessible, effective, and a model of integrity for every American, especially the most vulnerable among us. They are being honored for remarkable achievements on a variety of fronts – from the critical efforts that resulted in one of the largest police misconduct cases ever brought by the Department, to an historic antitrust case against a price-fixing cartel; from the successful prosecutions of those responsible for the country’s largest insider trading scheme, to the biggest residential fair lending settlement in the Department’s history. Among many others, this year’s recipients include a multi-agency team that helped secure a favorable settlement in a landmark case alleging pricing discrimination in mortgage lending; a group of attorneys and investigators who spearheaded the successful prosecution of one of the largest health care fraud cases on record; and a longtime Department employee who has been involved with the investigation and prosecution of almost every spy that’s been brought to justice over the last three decades. We can all be proud of their groundbreaking work.

Put simply, their efforts have helped to improve – and to save – countless lives. And within the Department, this work is strengthening our ability not only to share information with key authorities at every level – but to boost efficiency and transparency, to develop new ways to safeguard precious taxpayer resources, to respond to the threats we face – and, above all, to work together, across every office and component, to take our comprehensive investigative and prosecutorial efforts to the next level.

In so many ways, the people in this room have proven the importance of leveraging resources and expertise to foster robust collaboration with our state, local, tribal, and international partners. And you’ve been at the heart of our efforts to confront today’s problems – and anticipate tomorrow’s challenges – with energy, innovation, and optimism.

Of course, I recognize that this work is not – and never will be – easy. I understand – and am deeply grateful for – the sacrifices that you – and, especially, your families – have been called upon to make in the service of our nation. And – particularly in this time of limited budgets, when so many of you have been asked to do more with less, I know your jobs have never been more difficult.

But our jobs also have never been more important. And, despite the challenges we face – in light of the achievements we celebrate today, I believe there’s good reason for hope in where your efforts will take us from here – in ensuring justice and opportunity for all; in safeguarding our neighborhoods and communities; and in protecting the American people from crime and violence.

Because of you, the Department has never been in a better position to forge essential partnerships, to seize new opportunities, and to build on the record of success that’s been established in recent years. So today, as we gather to recognize the hard work, the steadfast resolve, and the unparalleled professionalism that have set this year’s award recipients apart, we must also renew our commitment – as a Department, and as a nation – to carry this work into the future.

As we answer this call – and keep working to make the progress we need, and that the American people deserve – I want each of you to know that I will continue to rely on your leadership and on your expertise. I will always be inspired by the examples you’ve set. And know this – I am proud of each one of you – and honored to count you both as colleagues and as friends.

Congratulations, once again, on receiving these prestigious awards. Thank you for a job well done, thank you for your service to our great nation – and keep up the great work.

Updated August 18, 2015