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Remarks at the NTSB 2006 Annual Awards Ceremony, Washington, DC
Mark V. Rosenker
National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) 2006 Annual Awards Ceremony, Washington, DC

Presidential Rank Awards

Each year, the President of the United States recognizes and celebrates a small group of career Senior Executives with the Presidential Rank Award for exceptional long-term accomplishments.  Throughout the Federal government, fewer than 300 were honored in 2006.  Our small agency had two of those so honored.  This is a magnificent achievement.

I would like Jim Cash, 2006 Distinguished Award recipient, and Steve Goldberg, 2006 Meritorious Award recipient, to come up here.

I wanted to share with you some of the accomplishments that led the U.S. Office of Personnel Management to select them with this prestigious award.

Jim Cash received the Distinguished award in recognition of more than 20 years of outstanding service with the Board.  As a senior level employee since 1999, he has contributed immeasurably to the success of our mission.  His sustained record of accomplishment ranges from individual efforts to extract information from severely damaged flight data recorders to long-term, collaborative efforts to foster and sustain a global community of recorder specialists.  Recognized at home and abroad for his incomparable knowledge of audio, video, and flight data analysis, Jim consistently seeks out and finds ways to improve the quality of data retrieved from recorders, inspiring staff to develop new technology for acquiring data, including cockpit image recorder and GPS technology.  His knowledge, resourcefulness and willingness to assist in many technical areas have been key for finding solutions to the unique challenges that arise during our investigations.

Steve Goldberg received the Meritorious award for his leadership and vision in managing key business processes for the NTSB.  Coming to our agency in 2001, Steve is approaching 30 years of government service and has used that experience to great effect here.  It is no secret that when Steve came here, our financial house was not in order.  In less than 3 years, Steve produced and issued financial statements for the first time in NTSB history, and has now achieved clean financial opinions for an unprecedented 4 years.  In addition, he implemented a robust agency Federal Managers Financial Integrity Act assessment process.  He also directed the effort that has resulted in our employees receiving their travel reimbursements quicker.

Steve has been instrumental in reforming the Safety Board’s financial business practices.  He has enhanced accountability and restored credibility to the NTSB’s financial operations.  We appreciate, as do others outside our agency, all that Steve has done for us and for the American people.

Congratulations to both of you, Steve and Jim, and thank you for bringing this prestigious honor to the Safety Board.

Now I’d like to turn the program over to the first presenter of NTSB’s Special Recognition award - Joseph M. Kolly, Deputy Director for Research and Engineering.

Chairman’s Award

This is the favorite part of my job, being able to introduce to you the recipient of the Chairman’s Award.

This year, we recognize a stellar 28-year career employee of the Safety Board – an employee who has demonstrated dedication, enthusiasm and competence on the job, and concern and respect for others in life.  I’m not going to say another word until he comes up here with me.  Dennis Jones, come on up here.

Dennis began his career with the Safety Board in 1979 as a co-op student.  After graduating from Embry Riddle University with a degree in Aeronautical Engineering, he has been a regional investigator, a field chief, a regional director and a senior air safety investigator.  After completing hundreds of general aviation investigations, he was promoted to chief of the Washington DC field office (now in Ashburn), and then as regional director in Parsippany.  In 1997, he was awarded the Peer Award from the staff he supervised in Parsippany.

He was then promoted to chief of the Regional Operations and General Aviation Division that year, where he served for 5 years.  During that time he decreased the backlog of petitions for reconsideration by 50 percent and outstanding general aviation accident briefs by 75 percent.

But as accomplished as Dennis had been for so many years, his best work was still to come.  In recent years, his work in Africa has brought honor to the Safety Board and the United States in the eyes of a large segment of the aviation community.  He has traveled to Africa on many occasions as the United States’ Accredited Representative for major accidents.  The Department of Transportation specifically requested Dennis’ participation in a White House initiative known as “Safe Skies of Africa.”

In 2005, the U.S. Department of State requested Dennis’ participation in an extremely delicate matter, the death of Sudanese Vice President Dr. John Garang.  Along with other NTSB staff, who traveled to a region of the world considered unsafe for American citizens, the work Dennis did may very well have prevented a bloody civil war in the Sudan.  He was able to convince all parties that no foul play was involved in the crash.

Dennis is also a concert pianist and a volunteer election official for Montgomery County.  He expanded his Africa expertise by participating on his own time to travel to Africa for a volunteer organization to establish Internet service in rural African villages.  For his long-time professional and personal contributions to aviation safety, I am proud to present the Chairman’s Award to Dennis Jones.

Closing Remarks

I would like to thank you for your time and interest in this year’s annual awards ceremony.   In addition to recognizing staff for their special achievements, it is also an opportunity to reflect on the important work of this agency.

I want to commend each and everyone of you for your outstanding work and dedication to the mission of this agency.  Each individual contribution adds to the Board’s commitment of helping to maintain America’s transportation system as the safest in the world.

And as many of you may know, in a few days the NTSB will mark its 40th birthday, and we have planned several events next month to commemorate the establishment of the NTSB on April 1, 1967.

Back in 1967, the Safety Board had 185 employees and operated with a budget of $3.1 million for the last nine months of that year.

A lot has happened at the Safety Board in these past 40 years.

You and your predecessors have investigated more than 138,000 accidents and issued more than 12,600 safety recommendations.

Your work has produced literally thousands of transportation safety improvements -- both big and small.

To commemorate the 40th anniversary there will be a kick off event on April 2nd and the actual ceremony is scheduled for April 26th.  More information on these and other festivities will follow.

Thank you for your hard work and dedication to the Safety Board.

I’d like to ask all of our award recipients and their families to remain in the auditorium for photographs and then join the rest of us for refreshments afterwards.

This concludes the 2006 NTSB Annual Awards ceremony.