Secretary Elaine L. Chao kicked off the 50th Secretary’s Awards Ceremony to a thunderous ovation. Recipient’s from all Agencies, Offices and as far away as Juneau, Alaska, were gathered in the West Atrium of DOT headquarters to receive awards on excellence and merit. The Secretary took the opportunity to give a special thanks to the more than 300 DOT employees who have volunteered for special assignments to assist with recovery efforts after the recent series of devastating hurricanes.
The list of milestones is impressive:
- Processing over 300 authorizations for drones to assist with surveying damage,
- Issuing waivers in record time to allow more truck drivers to transport fuel to hospitals and gas stations,
- Dispatching MARAD ships and personnel to provide power, food, clean water, and berthing for first responders and emergency workers and more.
Every DOT mode has stepped up to help. As many of you know, Secretary Chao traveled with Vice President Pence and Second Lady Karen Pence to the devastated areas. The spirit of the volunteers and recovery workers was inspirational. It will take time and sustained effort to get these areas back to normal. Repairing damaged infrastructure will be a key factor in the recovery and the Department has an important role to play in helping these regions get back on their feet.
This is not the only emergency situation the Department has faced this year. An important commuter bridge collapsed in a fiery accident on I-85 in Atlanta, Georgia on March 30, 2017. The safe and prompt reopening of the bridge—under budget and ahead of schedule in just seven weeks. It was an outstanding example of responsiveness. It’s something not only DOT, but the President, points to as a source of great pride and a milestone achievement for the government.
We accomplish our mission in serving the United States by ensuring a fast, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future. Through innovation and dedication, these teams and individuals have taken our mission one step further.
The Department would like to express our gratitude to all the awards recipients. In total, 47 individuals and 22 team leads were recognized. The work of DOT has gone above the call of duty to ensure America’s critical infrastructure is safe, secure and strong. It is a privilege to serve our country and work alongside so many talented individuals.