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President Biden Selects Two USDOT Employees As 2022 Presidential Rank Awards Winners

Tuesday, November 22, 2022

The Office of Aviation Consumer Protection’s Blane Workie and the FAA’s Jeffrey Planty are among the winners for the premier Federal government employee awards

Washington, D.C. -- Today, the U.S. Department of Transportation announced that two of the Department’s career employees have received the 2022 Presidential Rank Award, one of the most prestigious awards in Federal career civil service. Chosen by President Biden, the awards recognize the hard work and important contributions of dedicated civil servants in the Federal workforce. 

“Every day, tens of thousands of dedicated public servants like Blane Workie and Jeffrey Planty work behind the scenes to ensure that our nation’s transportation system runs smoothly and safely,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. “Ms. Workie and Mr. Planty have distinguished themselves through their exemplary work ethic and deep commitment to the power of public service. I am proud to join President Biden in recognizing these two outstanding civil servants.”

“Last year, we were thrilled that the Office of Personnel Management brought back the Presidential Rank Awards,” said Ronald Klain, White House Chief of Staff. “The President believes strongly in highlighting the accomplishments of federal civil servants and supporting our federal workforce. We look forward to recognizing a new group of distinguished individuals in the career service who consistently produce high quality work and demonstrate an unyielding commitment to public service.”

The USDOT employees being honored include:

Blane A. Workie, Assistant General Counsel for the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection, Office of the General Counsel: 

Ms. Workie has demonstrated initiative, innovation, and commitment in addressing USDOT’s response to COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on air travel consumers and industry, successfully leading the Office of Aviation Consumer Protection as it continues to process an unprecedented number of consumer complaints and handle complex issues.

Ms. Workie drafted and issued enforcement notices reminding the public and airlines that passengers should be refunded promptly when their scheduled flights are cancelled or significantly changed.  She also led investigations and enforcement actions against airlines for extreme delays in providing refunds. Ms. Workie’s work on behalf of the flying public has resulted in consumers getting back hundreds of millions of dollars in refunds. Her work with airlines has also spurred improved customer service policies at major airlines for flight delays and cancellations caused by airlines —work that continues to yield results for the American people. 

Over the years, Ms. Workie has also dramatically improved the rights of the flying public as the lead developer and drafter of aviation consumer protection rules that prohibit lengthy tarmac delays, increase the denied boarding compensation provided to passengers when flights are oversold, require advertised fares be the full price to be paid by consumers, mandate passengers be provided 24 hours to change or cancel their nonrefundable tickets with no fee, require refunds of bag fees when bags are lost, and much more.

Ms. Workie has also been at the forefront of DOT’s aviation civil rights work. Her achievements include rallying stakeholders with different interests, perspectives, and priorities, to reach a historic agreement to improve the accessibility of lavatories on new single aisle aircraft, an issue that DOT, airlines, disability rights advocates, and aircraft manufacturers have struggled to address for more than three decades.

Ms. Workie also led DOT’s efforts to ensure passengers fly free from discrimination, including taking enforcement action against several large U.S. airlines for removing passengers from flights following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks because of the passengers’ race, ethnicity, or religion. 

Jeffrey S. Planty, Vice President of Operations, Federal Aviation Administration

Mr. Planty oversees 10,000 employees who are located around the country, ensuring the safe, efficient, and secure delivery of air navigational services to the entire aviation community. His team provides critical services 24/7, 365 days a year.

As Vice President, Mr. Planty has a multitude of responsibilities. Given the increased cyber threats worldwide, Mr. Planty has developed strong interagency relationships across all modes to ensure the FAA and aviation community are protected from cyber threats and the loss of air navigational services. 

Mr. Planty also leads the FAA's Spectrum Engineering team that manages and protects civil aviation radio frequencies. This team spearheads the flight safety global aviation initiatives by working with other agencies to craft policies, standards, and certifications of current and new aviation technology. He also leads and operates the agency's engineering and construction team responsible for the safe and effective lifecycle management of the air traffic facilities infrastructure. 

Background on Awards:

This year, President Biden selected 233 winners from 33 federal agencies for their exceptional leadership, accomplishments, and service over an extended period of time. These individuals are all members of the Senior Executive Service (SES), Senior-Level (SL) and Scientific and Professional (ST) corps. 

The complete list of the Presidential Rank Awards may be found on OPM's website.