News Release

President Bush Says “Public Service in America Today is Not Just Another Job”

The National Commission on the Public Service lauded the president’s speech yesterday, in which he recognized and commended the continuing efforts of public servants. Bush described public service as “an important act of citizenship,” and thanked federal employees for their hard work, both before September 11 and after.

The National Commission on the Public Service seeks to focus attention on the need for comprehensive reform in the federal public service. Chaired by Paul Volcker, the Commission will commence a series of public hearings next week (on July 15, 17, and 18) in which leaders of all three branches of government will present testimony on the current crisis in the public service and opportunities for reform.

“In yesterday’s speech, the President offered a long-overdue, but much appreciated, tribute to the federal public service,” said Paul C. Light, director of the Brookings Institution’s Center for Public Service and senior adviser to the National Commission on the Public Service. “The President’s commitment to federal employees gives a real boost to the efforts of the National Commission on the Public Action. It is a call to action for reform.”

Bush characterized the “hard work of government officials” as critical to the success of the war on terror. “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to those public servants who I like to say quietly stand guard on the ramparts of freedom. We owe something else, as well. We owe all of you a concerted effort to do what it takes to make your efforts more effective.”

“With the creation of the Department of Homeland Security, we are presented with a historic opportunity for reform of the federal public service,” commented Light. “It should not be squandered merely by paying lip service to public servants &$151; they are working too hard, with too few resources, too little pay, and too much pressure &$151; for us not to embark upon a much-needed repair of the federal public service. The Volcker Commission is enthusiastic about this opportunity for public service reform.”

The Second National Commission on the Public Service is a project of the Center for Public Service at the Brookings Institution. The Commission is composed of Chairman Volcker and ten members drawn from both political parties and a variety of backgrounds. Commissioners include: former Comptroller General of the U.S. Charles Bowsher; former U.S. Senator Bill Bradley; former Secretary of Defense Frank Carlucci; former White House Chief of Staff Kenneth M. Duberstein; former Office of Personnel Management Director Connie Horner; former Office of Management and Budget Director Franklin D. Raines; former head of the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority Richard Ravitch; former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin; former Secretary of Health and Human Services Donna Shalala; and former Congressman Vin Weber. Bruce Laingen, executive director of the first Volcker Commission, serves as an ex-officio member of the Commission. Commission efforts are led by Executive Director Hannah Sistare.

For additional information about the second National Commission on the Public Service, please contact Gina Russo at (202) 797-6405 or via email at grusso@brookings.edu.

About Brookings

The Brookings Institution is a nonprofit organization devoted to independent research and policy solutions. Its mission is to conduct high-quality, independent research and, based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations for policymakers and the public.