Tom Burger has spent his life dedicated to public service. Burger said it started with President John F. Kennedy’s inaugural address in 1961, when Kennedy said, “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.”
“That stimulated me to look into public service,” Burger said.
As a young man, Burger served as a Marine in the Vietnam War during the Tet Offensive of 1968. After he left the Marines, Burger was still looking to serve. He turned to the federal government.
Burger looked into working at the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Internal Revenue Service, but he ended up at the IRS, where he worked for 37 years. Burger rose to the rank of director of the employment tax. Working for the IRS, Burger helped ensure that the majority of the money that funds the federal government was collected. He was responsible for determining whether citizens received W-2 or 1099 tax forms.
“Basically are you an employee or independent contractor?” Burger said, ”It’s the IRS’s job is to ensure that everybody pays their fair share – no more, no less.”
Listen to Burger’s views on public service.
As an Army brat, Octavia Hall has always been around public service. She spent most of her life in Germany bouncing around several bases. Hall said it was both her family and her community who encouraged her to serve.
“When I went out to the bus stop, I remember the soldiers coming over to talk to us about going to school, getting a good education, asking about our career goals. They contributed a lot to my wanting to serve,” Hall said.
As military families do, Hall’s family moved again, this time to Maryland. In high school she was active in cheerleading and a singing-show group she compared to the hit show Glee.
When graduation approached, Hall wasn’t interested in military service, but she knew there was a place for her on the civilian side. After receiving her diploma from La Plata High School, she was hired as a resource adviser at Joint Base Andrews. Hall helped families with child-care needs, career development courses and dual military spouses dealing with deployments.
“It’s always been instilled in me to help others in need,” Hall said.
Listen to Hall share her views on public service:
A fixture in the federal community stepped down last night â€” in grand style.
After more than 14 years at the helm of the nonprofit Council for Excellence in Government, Patricia McGinnis yesterday passed the baton to interim successor Lynn Jennings, the Councilâ€™s executive vice president, at a gala dinner at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Washington.
As president and CEO of the Council, McGinnis led the council in many initiatives, including: serving as an early advocate for the expansion of electronic government; expanding the Excellence in Government Fellowship program, a leadership development program for senior government managers; promoting Public Service Recognition Week; creating orientation programs for political appointees; and producing town hall meetings across the country between citizens and their government officials to discuss health care, employment and homeland security.
McGinnis also is credited with leading the effort to create the Education Department in 1980 when she worked at the Office of Management and Budget.
On hand for the occasion were about 400 people from throughout the federal community. In addition to recognizing McGinnis, the event marked the Councilâ€™s 25th anniversary by honoring 25 outstanding public servants. Those honored were: Former secretary of State James Baker III; former secretary of State Colin Powell; former Health and Human Services secretary Donna Shalala; former congressman and 9/11 Commission co-chair Lee Hamilton; former Homeland Security secretary Thomas Ridge; Sen. Ted Kennedy, Rep. John Lewis, former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day Oâ€™Connor, former Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chair Shirley Jackson, former New Jersey governor and 9/11 Commission co-chairman Thomas Kean, Sen. Richard Lugar, former principal chief of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma Wilma Mankiller, former Transportation secretary Norman Mineta, former vice president and Nobel Peace Prize recipient Al Gore, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, former deputy director of the Peace Corps and former deputy administrator of the Veterans Administration Everett Alvarez, Jr., former Treasury secretary Robert Rubin, former secretary of State George Shultz, former Senate majority leader George Mitchell, former director of OMB and the Congressional Budget Office Alice Rivlin; former deputy secretary of State John Whitehead, former Commerce secretary Peter Peterson, and Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve and current advisor to President-elect Barack Obama.
The Council continues a search for a permanent president and CEO to replace McGinnis. Meanwhile, McGinnis will remain a trustee of the Council and, we hope, will remain an active voice in the federal community.
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