Program Overview and History

Program Overview and History

Federal employees are responsible for many noteworthy and inspiring accomplishments that are seldom recognized or celebrated. The Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals highlight excellence in our federal workforce and inspire other talented and dedicated individuals to go into public service.


The Sammies, known as the “Oscars” of government service, are a highly respected honor with a rigorous selection process. Named for the Partnership for Public Service’s late founder who was inspired by President Kennedy’s call to serve in 1963, these awards align with his vision of a dynamic and innovative federal workforce that meets the needs of the American people.

The Partnership is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization whose mission is to help make our government more effective, and the Sammies honorees represent the many exceptional federal workers who are doing just that—breaking down barriers, overcoming huge challenges and getting results. Whether they’re defending the homeland, protecting the environment, ensuring public safety, making scientific and medical discoveries, or responding to natural and man-made disasters, these men and women put service before self and make a lasting difference.

Samuel J. Heyman believed that “the future of our nation quite simply depends on the quality of our government.” The Sammies are the Partnership’s way of showing the world the many ways our government is making our country better, safer and stronger.

In 2019, the Partnership for Public Service proudly named the Service to America Career Achievement Medal for Paul A. Volcker in recognition of his nearly three decades of distinguished federal service. The new Paul A. Volcker Career Achievement Medal, made possible through the generous support of Ray and Barbara Dalio, recognizes federal employees who have led significant and sustained achievements over 20 or more years of service in government. Click here to read more and watch a short video about this remarkable public servant.