Three federal offices were honored Monday as recipients of the annual
Public Service Excellence Awards.
Public Employees Roundtable, a nonprofit group dedicated to promoting
civil servants and public service careers, sponsors the annual awards,
which recognize innovation and excellence in federal, state and local
governments. The awards are given in conjunction with Public
Service Recognition Week, which concludes this Friday.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service district office in Omaha,
Neb., was honored for its "Problem Solvers" program, designed to
address a history of poor customer service and public relations. According
to the office and the public who relied on it, the naturalization process
at the office, which foreign nationals go through to become U.S. citizens,
was lengthy and unorganized. Often, files were lost, fees were forfeited
under time limits and applicants were forgotten along the way.
To improve the quality of the process, the Omaha district offered more
convenient office hours and locations for citizenship ceremonies. Steps
were also taken to ensure files would not be lost and frontline employees
were given more authority to make decisions.
In the end, the number of people becoming citizens increased by 13.6
percent, response time to congressional inquiries improved, and the
office's public image improved. Now, the Omaha office receives frequent
requests to help improve performance at INS offices around the country.
The Great Plains Region of the Interior Department's Bureau of
Reclamation earned special recognition for a project to reduce iron and
manganese concentrations from the Frazer, Mont. groundwater supply. The
project provided a water treatment system for the town, which has a
population of 450. Prior to the new treatment system, residents of Frazer
had to haul drinking water from the ground to their homes.
A group of employees at the Air Force's 838th Engineering Installation
Squadron took top honors in the community service division. The group
tutors at-risk children and participates in a local Adopt-A-Highway
program, Habitat for Humanity, and Meals-On-Wheels.
Other Public Service Excellence award recipients were:
- State: Oklahoma Department of Corrections, Lexington
Assessment and Reception Center, Inmate Apprentice Program.
- County: Cuyahoga County, Ohio, Department of Senior and Adult
Services Safety and Crime Awareness Training.
- City: City of Tacoma, Wash., Community Relations Office,
Tacoma's Talkin' Trash Campaign.
- Intergovernmental: Virginia National Guard and Los Angeles,
Calif. Juvenile Court, Commonwealth Challenge Program and Sara Berman