Announcing the 2021 Presidential Rank Award Winners
I often say that federal employees are in the business of achieving the unachievable — from curing disease, to combatting climate change, to landing rovers on the surface of Mars. Many of the federal services we count on every day run so smoothly that we don’t see the hard work and dedication behind them. But from his first week in office, President Biden has made it a focus of this Administration to honor federal workers for all that they do to meet America’s needs. First by executive orders, and then by prioritizing the federal workforce in his President’s Management Agenda, President Biden has uplifted civil servants and given them the recognition they deserve. And today, OPM is proud to build on those efforts by resuming the Presidential Rank Awards (PRA) and announcing the President’s selection of 230 winners from 37 agencies for 2021.
A Presidential Rank Award is one of the most prestigious awards in the federal career civil service. Each year, the President honors a select group of dedicated civil servants across government whose accomplishments embody agency missions, service, and stewardship. The award recognizes senior executives who see opportunity in every challenge, and who inspire and empower the people who work around them. This year’s recipients include leaders across the government, including a Department of Commerce employee who led significant and critical improvements to physical and IT infrastructure; a Department of Homeland Security official who was instrumental in the building of the first-ever, risk-based passenger screening system — TSA PreCheck — which now has over 10 million enrolled travelers (35 percent of daily passenger volume); and a member of the Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General who helped developed a robust network of public and private health care program integrity partners to better ensure an effective approach to preventing, detecting, and prosecuting fraud, resulting in thousands of criminal and civil actions over the past five years, as well as over $19 billion in fines, penalties, and restitutions while also preventing harm to program beneficiaries.
Unlike years past, this year’s PRAs were awarded in a virtual work environment. To identify each of them, OPM led a 100-person review panel with participants all over the world, from Hawaii to Dubai, and everywhere in between. That global perspective helped us narrow down a field of incredibly talented nominees from 42 federal agencies, each of whom is a credit to our country and the federal workforce.
At OPM, we are so proud that our own Dianna Saxman is being honored this year. Dianna leads approximately 150 employees and numerous contractors from across the nation. She set a vision for her organization — Great Government Starts Here — and has spent the past 15 years delivering on it. As the Deputy Associate Director with executive responsibility for reimbursable talent acquisitions solutions, some of OPM’s most important hiring assets — like USAJOBS, USA Staffing, USA Hire, and Staff Acquisition — are under Dianna’s purview. And her impact is undeniable. Dianna rebuilt USA Staffing (OPM’s talent acquisition system for federal agencies) from the ground up, changing a fragmented hiring process that barely yielded 50,000 annual selections for a few small agencies into a consolidated platform servicing 105 agencies — including cabinet level agencies — with a single end-to-end process that facilitates approximately 85 percent of the federal government’s promotional and hiring activities. As a direct result, USA Staffing expanded its reach to over 355,000 selections in FY20. Right now, Dianna is working with her team to adapt USAJOBS, USA Staffing, and other HRS and OPM services to recruit, hire, and train federal employees who will support the Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act.
By resuming the Presidential Rank Awards, President Biden is showing once again how committed he is to the federal workforce. Federal employees like Dianna serve with distinction and deserve to be recognized for their hard work and significant achievements that benefit all of us. The President bestows the honor of a PRA on behalf of the American people. This is an opportunity for all of us to thank the public servants who use their incredible knowledge and skill to better their country, and OPM is honored to help facilitate it.
-Kiran Ahuja, Director of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management