For every annoying afternoon spent in the DMV hating the bureaucracy, it’s important to remember that there are federal employees out there who are revolutionizing the way government operates, and innovating our public systems for the better. That is the idea behind the annual Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals, or Sammies, the most prestigious award in the country for public service, honoring individuals “based on their commitment and innovation, as well as the impact of their work on addressing the needs of the nation.”
The 33 finalists for this years Sammies, announced on Sunday, all work in either homeland security and law enforcement, citizen services, national security and international affairs, science and environment, and management excellence. While only seven winners will be selected at the awards ceremony in September, the finalists are being recognized all week as part of Public Service Recognition Week, which is kicking off with a private brunch for the finalists on Tuesday morning.
The projects these impressive public servants have worked on span across the United States and the world, from Antarctica to Uganda, with finalists doing everything from improving veterans access to burial services, providing clean drinking water to millions, and even building a safer a ambulance.
Finalists Günter Waibel, Adam Metallo and Vincent Rossi, who work with the Smithsonian Institution, have created a 3-D imaging system to allow people to view the museums’ prized artifacts on the internet, and even print models of the artifacts on their own 3-D printers.
Currently less than one percent of the Smithsonian’s possessions are on public display. With this new system, Waibel, Metallo and Rossi hope to increase this number to over 10 percent.
Sara Meyers, with the Department of Housing and Urban Development, is also being recognized as a Sammie finalist, for her work overseeing the Sandy Program Management Office. Meyers is the creator of HUDStat, an internal data system that has allowed the department to quickly and accurately analyze the effectiveness of federal housing programs. She was also able to utilize this program to build a system to track $13.6 billion in HUD economic stimulus funding and $50 billion in Hurricane Sandy disaster relief.
You can find the complete list of Sammie finalists here, as well as detailed descriptions of their amazing accomplishments in building a better government. Be sure to raise a glass this week to America’s public servants, who are helping to drive this country forward.