It was quite a memorable day earlier this month when NASA's rover Curiosity landed on Mars. The reaction of the staff at mission control during the "seven minutes of terror" was priceless, and helped remind Americans of the outstanding work, the passion and the leadership that federal employees bring to their jobs.
While landing on Mars is not a routine event, there have been many other exemplary federal moments this summer, with agencies and civil servants performing at a high level. Just in case you missed some of these moments, here are a few of the high-impact contributions benefitting the American public that required the hard work and leadership of our nation's public servants.
· The U.S. Forest Service, the Department of the Interior, Department of Defense and FEMA team up to fight wildfires in the West. When disaster struck, employees from these federal agencies responded under stressful and dangerous conditions to fight the fires, provide emergency assistance and protect lives, property and our natural resources. Specialists covered ground in Colorado, Wyoming, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and Nevada, and put their lives on the line in order to save the lives of others.
· National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) improves hurricane forecasting. With hurricane season now in progress, NOAA has put to use a new statistical model to help predict the start of the "eyewall replacement cycle," a key indicator that a storm's strength and size is about to change dramatically. This new tool adds to a suite of forecast products NOAA uses to warn coastal communities of imminent threats.
· Program exceeds hiring goals for veterans, spouses. The Department of Defense announced this month that a White House initiative to hire veterans and military spouses surpassed its goals, having led to the hiring or training of more than 125,000 veterans and spouses in the past year. Some 2,000 companies have hired 125,000 employees through their pledges to the "Joining Forces" campaign, and, of those, 140 employers have hired 28,000 military spouses.
· The Department of Education improves student aid process. In July, the Department of Education launched a new website and several social media tools that now make it easier for students and families to navigate the financial aid process and make informed decisions about paying for college. StudentAid.gov is the first step in a multi-phase project to provide individuals with a one-stop site where they can access federal student aid information, apply for federal aid, repay student loans and navigate the college decision-making process.
· The National Institutes of Health (NIH) combats 'Superbug.' When a deadly bacteria spread through the NIH Clinical Center last year, NIH researchers used advanced genetic technology to trace the outbreak. As a result of the attack, the NIH has put new surveillance methods in place, such as bi-weekly screenings of every patient in the intensive care unit, to help protect patients from future superbugs.
· National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) develops new standard to provide evidence for crime cases. This new standard will allow law enforcers and forensic examiners to trace empty cartridge shells found at crime scenes back to specific firearms. According to NIST, 200,000 of these cases are recovered from crime scenes in the United States annually.
This list is just a start of some of the outstanding federal moments from this summer. Please share any recent government accomplishments in the comment section below or by emailing me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This post was originally featured on The Washington Post's website.