Blog, Videos and Podcast

This federal doctor’s research has made HIV/AIDS manageable and saved lives
September 15, 2022 |
20 minutes
Fourty years ago, HIV/AIDS was a fearsome scourge. Today it’s manageable, and many people with it can lead normal lives. Much of the life saving research into the virus and the disease has been conducted by our next guest in his 40 years at the National Institutes of Health. He’s the clinical director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and a finalist in this year’s Service to America Medals program. Clifford Lane joined the Federal Drive with Tom Temin.
Keeping Promises to the 9/11 Community
September 9, 2022 |
36 minutes
As we honor the 21st anniversary of September 11th, we will be hearing from Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals® finalist Rupa Bhattacharyya, who revitalized the federal program responsible for awarding claims to victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks, including the families of those who were on site or responded that day, as well as people who lived, worked or went to school near the attack sites. Serving as the special master of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund at the Department of Justice from 2016 until 2022, Bhattacharyya and her team transformed the fund from an under-resourced, limited and short-term endeavor into a unique long-standing federal program with an unlimited pool of funding. Bhattacharyya discusses how she overcame enormous challenges to ensure that the program continues to meet its obligations to the 9/11 community, expand its outreach to eligible claimants, and have sufficient funding through 2090 to compensate those whose health may be affected even decades later.

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Meet the FEMA administrator who ensured millions got covid vaccines early on
September 6, 2022 |
23 minutes
Do you recall when the first COVID vaccines came out in early 2021. It turned from a scientific problem to a logistics problem. How would they distribute millions of doses to Americans clamoring to get them. It fell to FEMA's Robert Fenton to coordinate the set-up of 39 mass vaccination centers and 1,600 smaller ones across the country. Federal Drive host Tom Temin spoke with Fenton, a finalist in this year's Service to America Medals program, the region 9 administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and recently named by President Biden to head up the country's efforts against monkeypox.
Meet the guy who oversaw the recovery of more than a billion dollars of stolen pandemic relief
September 1, 2022 |
24 minutes
The government showed how fast it could spend money when the Congress printed trillions for pandemic relief. Now it's the morning after. Roy Dotson led a nationwide criminal investigation that so far has clawed back more than a billion dollars that was awarded to fraudsters under the Paycheck Protection Program. His efforts also prevented maybe twice that much from going out. Federal Drive host Tom Temin spoke with Dotson, an assistant special agent in charge of the Secret Service and a finalist in this year's Service to America Medals Program.
Collaborating with Communities to Improve Health Equity
August 26, 2022 |
44 minutes

Today’s “Profiles in Public Service” guests have provided care to communities across the country during the COVID-19 pandemic. In 2021, Service to America Medals® finalist Suma Nair launched a major federal initiative to ensure that community-based health centers could access lifesaving resources to adequately respond to COVID-19. Ian Munar from International Community Health Services in Seattle, Washington, and Noah Nesin, the chief medical officer at Penobscot Community Health Care in Penobscot, Maine, witnessed the tremendous impact that Nair’s program at the Health Resources and Services Administration had on the individuals and families they serve, many of whom are from populations experiencing economic, geographic, cultural, linguistic or other barriers to accessing high-personalized health care services. These three public servants discuss their experiences working in community health care, and why collaboration between federal and local leaders is critical to improving health equity in America.

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Everybody talks customer experience. This Veterans Affairs managers has done something about it.
August 25, 2022 |
21 minutes
The Veterans Affairs Department has been concentrating on improving service to its veteran constituents. And its had some success. Surveys show a 24% jump in trust in VA over the past few years. One career manager who gets a lot of the credit is the VA's deputy chief veterans experience officer. For her work, Barbara Morton is a finalist in this year's Service to America Medals program.
Voice of America acting director gets Sammies nod for turning around employee engagement
August 18, 2022 |
19 minutes
You might say Voice of America was in turmoil. Big disagreements between agency staff and the Trump administration meant people were leaving, put on leave, or under investigation. A series of leaders had come and gone for several years. A day after the Biden administration started, it appointed Yolanda Lopez -- who had been removed from her job as news director only a week earlier -- as acting VOA director. Since then, employee engagement scores rose 13 points from below average to above average. Now Lopez is a finalist in this year's Service to America Medals program. Federal Drive host Tom Temin talked to her in-studio at Federal News Network HQ in the DMV.
This FDA lawyer was instrumental in limits on cigarette marketing
August 11, 2022 |
11 minutes
Since the FDA got authority from Congress in 2009 to regulate tobacco marketing, smoking rates in the United States have dropped to 10% for adults and less than 3% for minors. Much of the credit does not go to a scientist, but a lawyer. Until his retirement this past spring, Mitchell Zeller was director of the FDA's Center for Tobacco Products and is a finalist in this year's Service to America Medals Program. Federal Drive host Tom Temin sat down with Mitch in the no-smoking-allowed Federal News Network studios for this in-person interview.
This FDA scientist's work helps public health officials find sources of tainted food much faster
August 4, 2022 |
18 minutes
When people get some sort of foodborne illness, you want the source off the market as soon as possible. At one time that took weeks or even months. A government doctor developed an application of a methodology called genomic epidemiology to foodborne heebee geebies. It greatly speeds up pinpointing the source. For his work, he's a finalist in this year's Service to America Medals program. Federal Drive host Tom Temin talked with Dr. Steven Musser, deputy director for scientific operations in the F-D-A's center for food safety and applied nutrition.
How an interagency team took down terror networks exploiting the pandemic
July 28, 2022 |
14 minutes
When the pandemic hit in 2020, it didn't take long for terrorist groups to take advantage of it. ISIS set up a website to ostensibly sell face masks, but really to get money peddling inferior products. But a team from the FBI, IRS Criminal Investigations, and Homeland Security Investigations stopped this activity by seizing 300 cryptocurrency accounts worth $2 million. That's not all. For their work, they're finalists in this year's Service to America Medals program. One team member, Chris Janczewski, formerly with the IRS, talked with Federal Drive host Tom Temin about how they caught the criminals.
Page header: Charles Bolden, former Administrator of NASA, interviewed backstage at the 2013 Sammies gala