Remarks on Presenting the Presidential Rank Awards to Members of the Senior Executive Service

December 19, 1983

I assume that you've all been in here long enough to get warm. [Laughter] Just walking across the street if my voice quavers, it isn't emotion. [Laughter] I'm cold.

But good morning, and welcome. It's always a pleasure to meet with the people who are responsible for making our government work. The ability of this or any other administration to succeed is -- in no small measure depends on the energy, the dedication, and the spirit of our Federal employees. And government service is a partnership -- in other words, a relationship between political leaders, who do most of the talking, and career employees, who do most of the work.

When we speak of government, we may think of an impersonal bureaucracy with lots of regulations and paperwork, but just as this is a government of the people, it's also a government run by people -- people like you, who've committed your lives and your careers to jobs that are vital to our nation. Your work is government, and without you it would come quickly to a halt.

Even if there were no awards like those for today, most of our Federal employees would still do their best, working to give our citizens honest government. People don't choose government service for prestige, glamour, or recognition. They're not trying to get rich. They're just trying to make a difference, and that's important.

In this centennial year anniversary of the Civil Service, we should remember that government is only as good as the people who make it work one day at a time. Government must limit what it does, but it still must perform its responsibilities with care and professionalism. You can't have good programs without good people. Well, you're the good people. And the Presidential Rank Awards provide the opportunity to recognize your great services to our nation. And it gives us a chance to show our appreciation for your contributions, your imagination, and your hard work.

These awards also provide an incentive for all Federal employees to help us improve the effectiveness of government. There's always room for improvement. You haven't earned your awards by luck. It's because of exceptional performance.

The nearly 7,000 members of the Senior Executive Service are among the finest group of executives anywhere. To be singled out and selected for the prestigious Presidential Rank Award is an honor. You have good reason to be proud, and America is fortunate to have you on our team.

You've searched for ways to reduce the growth of the budget, and you succeeded. You've looked for more efficient ways to run programs, and you've found them. You've tried to better serve our citizens, and you're doing it. From the Johnson Space Center to the Fish and Wildlife Service in Anchorage, Alaska, and from the Department of State to the VA Medical Center in Gainesville, Florida, you are on the frontlines, day in and day out, setting high standards for us all.

And, ladies and gentlemen, you're what is best about government: the commitment and determination of individual citizens in service to our nation. Through your efforts, we can make today's Federal Government a model for the generation that'll follow us. And I'm counting on you, and so are the American people.

So, God bless you, and thank you all very much for all that you are doing.

Note: The President spoke at 11:50 a.m. at the presentation ceremony in Room 450 of the Old Executive Office Building. Following his remarks, Donald J. Devine, Director of the Office of Personnel Management, introduced the 38 award winners to the President.