Jobs Accelerator Team Awarded DOC Gold Medal


I’m pleased to announce that the team behind the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge at the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) has been awarded the Department of Commerce Gold Medal.

The ceremony was held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington on January 8. Gold and silver medals were awarded to 300 employees out of the DOC’s total staff of 40,000 for a range of achievements, such as scientific discoveries, technological advancements, operational innovation, and even acts of heroism (five lives were saved by DOC employees during 2011-2012). Medal recipients were responsible for uncovering and disrupting a network of foreign firms colluding with a foreign government on illegal nuclear procurement, prosecuting a yet-to-be-announced major company for conducting prohibited business in Iran, Syria, Sudan, and Cuba potentially leading to the largest fine in DOC history, creating the world’s most advanced submillimeter camera, and, for the data nerds among us, successfully completing prototype quarterly statistics on U.S. GDP by industry. An impressive group of dedicated public servants to say the least.

Here’s the description of the Gold Medal award from the event program:

This award, the highest honorary award given by the Department, is granted by the Secretary for distinguished performance characterized by extraordinary, notable, or prestigious contributions that impact the mission of the Department and/or one operating unit and that reflect favorably on the Department.

EDA earned the award under the leadership category:

The group is recognized for its substantial innovative achievements in developing and implementing the Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge (Jobs Accelerator), an interagency initiative that exemplifies how the Federal Government can work collaboratively in an era of fiscal austerity to leverage existing Federal resources to support job creation. The initiative implements the Obama Administration’s focus on a smarter use of Federal resources and creates an unprecedented platform for coordinating Federal economic development efforts.

While the team listed here may have successfully launched the Jobs Accelerator, the real credit for this award goes to Former Assistant Secretary John Fernandez, who had the audacity to insist that the public sector demonstrate the same commitment to innovation that is heralded in the private sector every day. The Jobs Accelerator, like every innovation, was an experiment–a calculated bet that return on investment to taxpayers could be increased through a smarter and more effective approach to competitive grants. The experiment certainly left room for improvement, but I like to think that it was a successful first step in achieving proof of concept. Hopefully economic developers agree.

EDA team with Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank and Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine

EDA team with Acting Secretary of Commerce Rebecca Blank and Acting Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Matt Erskine at DOC Honor Awards Program on January 8, 2013

U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal Award for EDA's Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge

U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal Award for EDA’s Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge

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