Why Sammies Matter

The nation’s professional, nonpartisan career civil servants are at the heart of our democracy, working across presidential administrations to protect and improve the country’s national security, the economy, public health and the environment while ensuring we are governed by the rule of law.

Since 2001, the Partnership for Public Service has celebrated more than 700 public servants through the Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals or Sammies, recognized as the preeminent awards program for federal employees.

Data from recent public opinion surveys conducted for the Partnership shows that Americans understand little about what the federal government does and view it primarily serving the needs and interests of the powerful. As a result, many Americans on both sides of the political spectrum report decreasing trust in government, and that distrust is supercharged by many of the negative portrayals of government by politicians and in media and entertainment.

Much of this negativity focuses on government at the political level, which misses the fundamental work being done by more than 2 million career federal employees in communities across the nation.

The Sammies bring extraordinary individual stories to light and change the way people view what our government does for all of us by shining the spotlight on amazing accomplishments of dedicated civil servants, and by showing how our government benefits society.

The Sammies honorees demonstrate the wide variety of opportunities available to civil servants to make a difference in people’s lives and help our country thrive, offering encouragement for others, particularly young people, to consider careers in public service.

Honorees have worked in areas as varied as health care, aeronautics, transportation, national security, disaster aid and relief, climate change, law enforcement, drug prevention, agriculture, weather forecasting and many more. The breadth of their work demonstrates many ways that federal employees have a positive impact on the nation.

Moreover, the Sammies improve recognition and morale within federal agencies by sharing examples of extraordinary leadership, perseverance, creativity and innovation, and by setting examples for others to follow.

The Sammies demonstrate that our government and dedicated public servants can make a difference.

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