Remarks as Delivered by
U.S. Secretary of Transportation Elaine L. Chao
Combined Federal Campaign Closing Ceremony
Tuesday, April 10, 2018
Good afternoon. Thank you, Keith Nelson, for that introduction. I’m so pleased to be here with all of you to mark the close of the successful 2017 Combined Federal Campaign. As former President and CEO of United Way of America, I understand and appreciate all you are doing to help others and your communities.
This past year, the Department stood out in helping fellow Americans. In addition to all the work you do every day to keep America’s transportation system running safely and smoothly, you really stepped up when disaster struck.
A little over a year ago, our colleagues at Federal Highways sprang into action after a fire brought down a bridge on a busy Atlanta highway. That bridge was replaced and traffic was rolling again in just six weeks!
And after multiple Hurricanes slammed into Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, the men and women of this Department responded with great speed and dedication.
I made two trips to Texas in the wake of Harvey, flying down with the President and later with Vice President Pence. The devastation was heartbreaking. Two weeks later, I accompanied the Vice President to Puerto Rico and St. Croix and surveyed the damage in St. Thomas and St. John by helicopter. The devastation was extensive, but the resilience of residents of the affected states and islands was amazing. And the outpouring of support from around the nation was heartening.
It was also uplifting to see how the Department mobilized assistance to the people of these affected areas. MARAD activated personnel and four ships to provide power, food, clean water and berthing to federal responders. FAA helped get airports up and running again and processed a flurry of waivers to allow drone crews to find and assess damage to homes and infrastructure. Motor Carriers and PHMSA made it easier to ship needed fuel into disaster areas, while FWHA mobilized bridge and other infrastructure inspectors. FTA, FRA, and the entire department gave all they had and then some, to help in the recovery.
The same spirit of service you displayed during the Hurricane recovery showed itself in the Federal Campaign. Let me thank Jessica Koehler and Cecilia Madan who led the Department’s 2017 effort.
Let me also thank the Chairman of the Local Federal Coordinating Committee for the Combined Federal Campaign, Vince Micone; his team; and Cindy Rheaume, the loaned executive for the Department’s campaign.
The motto this year was “Show some Love.” You held more than 60 awareness-raising events that didn’t merely “show some Love” – they amplified it, putting it front and center. These events included cupcake wars, chili cook-offs, raffles and international food potlucks. The target was $800,000, but DOT exceeded that goal by 25%, making this the 17th year in a row that the Department raised more than $1 million.
All 11 Modes met or exceeded their CFC goals. This was the first year that the CFC allowed employees to pledge volunteer hours in addition to dollar contributions. Department colleagues pledged 2,308 volunteer hours during the 2017 campaign. As former CEO and President of the United Way of America, let me say that your level of commitment to helping others is especially gratifying.
Our colleagues also were recognized for their outstanding work. Best Overall Poster Display was won by Robert Drew of FAA, Ruthie Americas of FRA, and Carla Howard of OST. The Best Overall Outreach Plan for Large Agencies to went to Gerson Gomez and Everett Lott of PHMSA.
This commitment to helping others is just one reason why DOT ranked number 4 of all government agencies as “best places to work.” People want to work here.
Let me end by thanking you—and all our wonderful DOT colleagues—for everything you have done to achieve this year’s tremendous milestone. Congratulations. And I look forward to another great year in 2018.
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