Sammies Finalists Use Technology to Transform Public Services

 Sofia Hussain  is a finalist for her work in introducing cutting-edge technology and data analysis to help federal investigators crack intricate securities fraud cases.

Sofia Hussain is a finalist for her work in introducing cutting-edge technology and data analysis to help federal investigators crack intricate securities fraud cases. Evlakhov Valeriy/Shutterstock.com

Data innovations are prominent in the achievements of this year's contenders.

Monday kicks off Public Service Recognition Week, and the Partnership for Public Service announced the 33 finalists for its distinguished annual Service to America awards, also known as Sammies.

There’s a common thread among this year’s finalists: Many have harnessed technology to improve public services. That, even despite recent research by the Partnership that indicates most feds lack incentives and support to innovate.

In the Call to Service award category, Sofia Hussain, a senior forensic accountant in the enforcement division of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is a finalist for her work in introducing cutting-edge technology and data analysis to help federal investigators crack intricate securities fraud cases and return hundreds of millions of dollars to investors.

Sara Meyers, director of the Sandy program management office of the Housing and Urban Development Department, also was selected as a Call to Service finalist for her work in creating HUDStat, a sophisticated data analysis system to evaluate the performance of federal housing programs. The system tracks $13.6 billion in economic stimulus and $50 billion for Hurricane Sandy disaster recovery.

Michael Byrne, former geographic information officer at the Federal Communications Commission, is a Citizen Services Medal finalist for his work in making detailed data about the nation’s broadband availability and communications systems available to citizens and policymakers through the creation of interactive online maps and other visualizations.  

Douglas James Norton, a senior environmental scientist in the watershed branch of the Environmental Protection Agency, also was nominated for the Citizens Services Medal for his work in making water quality data and assessment tools available to citizens, scientists and state agencies via the Web. Gunter Waibel, Adam Metallo and Vincent Rossi of the Smithsonian Institution, also were nominated in the category for their use of 3-D imaging and printing technologies to make iconic Smithsonian treasures accessible to students, teachers and historians everywhere.

Gilbert Bindewald, Alice Lippert and Patrick Willging of the Energy Department, were selected as finalists for the Homeland Security and Law Enforcement Medal for their creation of information-sharing and assessment tools that help government agencies and power companies deliver emergency services and restore electricity following natural disasters.

In the Management Excellence Medal category, Sonny Hashmi, acting chief information officer at the General Services Administration, was selected for his leadership of the agency’s cloud initiative, which has led to reduced agency costs and created a model for other agencies to follow.

In the National Security and International Affairs category, R. Patrick DeGroodt, deputy project manager at the Army Department, was nominated for his role in developing a new mobile communications network that gives Army units continuous connectivity on battlefields. Sean C. Young and Benjamin J. Tran, electronics engineers at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, also were nominated for their creation of a new aerial sensor system to help Army and Special Forces units detect and destroy improvised explosive devices.

Finally, Jeffrey Rogers, retired program manager in the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is a finalist for the Service and Environment Medal for his development of a wearable sensor that provides real-time information on the risk of traumatic brain injuries to soldiers exposed to bomb blasts.

For a full list of this year’s finalists, click here

(Image via Evlakhov Valeriy/Shutterstock.com)

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