8 teams and individuals earn top honors with new ‘Gears of Government’ awards

To mark the beginning of Public Service Recognition Week, the Trump administration on Monday announced the winners of its newly re-branded and revamped annual customer service awards.

The administration for the first time recognized five agency teams and three individuals with “Gears of Government President Awards.” The awards went to:

Barbara Morton, deputy chief veterans experience officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, helped transform customer service for the veterans population.

The “KRUSTY team” at NASA and the Energy Department piloted and tested technology that could pave the way for future systems that power astronaut outposts on the Moon and Mars.

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The team at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration advanced new technology that detected harmful algal bloom toxins, which will help ensure the safety of clean drinking water in Lake Erie and access to safe seafood in Washington State.

Research from Dr. Emily Haas at the Department of Health and Human Services advanced the creation of industrywide strategies to improve health and safety management methods for mineworkers.

The “Takata recall team” at the Transportation Department created a national campaign to raise awareness of an air bag recall. Their work led to the replacement of more than 7.2 million defective air bag parts in 2018.

The HHS Office of Inspector General prevented healthcare providers convicted of opioid-related offenses, sexual assault, rape and manslaughter from participating in federal healthcare program.

Research and science from Dr. Kathleen Uhl at HHS expanded nationwide access to generic drugs.

The Agricultural Marketing Service team helped industries more quickly provide food banks with fresh food.

Learn learn more about the winners here.

The “Gears of Government” awards are part the Office of Management and Budget’s plans to re-brand and revamp previous customer service recognition programs to align more closely with the goals and values of the President’s Management Agenda.

The Office of Management and Budget last summer announced its plans to re-brand and revamp the federal Customer Service Awards program the Obama administration began in 2015. In updated awards and recognition guidance, OMB Director Mick Mulvaney described the administration’s intention to reward the employees and teams who interact specifically with members of the public every day.

Under the new format, agencies and executive councils can submit the names of teams and individuals who demonstrate success or bring exemplary value in the areas of mission results, customer service and stewardship on a rolling basis throughout the year.

The Office of Management and Budget will choose a few select teams to win the “Gears of Government President’s Award.” The White House will hold an awards ceremony for the winners later in May.

But agencies and councils can hold their own award ceremonies throughout the year, and many of them already have, Margaret Weichert, deputy director for management at OMB, told reporters Monday afternoon.

OMB earlier this year recognized several dozen individuals and teams who had received awards from their own agencies and executive councils. But in choosing President’s award winners, Weichert said OMB specifically wanted to highlight efforts that made an impact on the agency’s ground-level, daily operations.

“We also wanted to make sure that we really looked at people in mission support roles,” she said. “Very often, you’ll see a lot of emphasis paid to some of the groundbreaking work we do in science, technology, engineering and math and medicine. Places like NASA and elsewhere tend to have a lot of very high profile projects. When we really look at where our feds are making a difference, in a lot of cases it’s not as well known, and we wanted to give an opportunity for those to shine.”

She said OMB also wanted to recognize teams and individuals who have made an impact on their agency’s work and mission in places around the country.

“Obviously there are employee here in the D.C. area, and they get a lot of attention because they may be closer to leadership, but we wanted to explicitly make sure we looked at employees at all of the regions we serve,” Weichert said.

Under the Obama-era awards and recognition guidance, federal employees from 15 agencies were eligible to receive customer service awards. The Trump administration’s reboot of the customer service awards invites all 24 agencies subject to the Chief Financial Officers (CFO) Act.

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