Thank you, Paul [Martin], for your kind words, for your work in organizing today's awards program -- and, of course, for your outstanding service as Inspector General of NASA. I'd also like to thank your Co-Chair, David Williams, Inspector General of the U.S. Postal Service; as well as Jeffrey Zients, Deputy Director of OMB and Executive Chair of the Council of Inspectors General on Integrity and Efficiency; and CIGIE's Chair, Phyllis Fong, and Vice Chair, Carl Clinefelter, for everything that they've done to bring us together today.
It's a pleasure to be among this group of colleagues and critical partners -- and to join Paul in welcoming so many proud family members and friends. These guests are, in many ways, the unsung heroes of the Inspector General community -- and they deserve special recognition this morning.
Without the support that they provide every day, the understanding that they've shown in the face of the long hours and late nights, and the sacrifices that they've made in the name of public service, our honorees would not have been able to achieve the progress we celebrate today. So, it's a privilege to thank you all for making their critical work possible. And it's an honor to stand with you in paying tribute to the exemplary achievements of Inspectors General and dedicated IG staff members from more than 70 agencies -- large and small -- across the federal government.
I'm grateful for this chance to help recognize so many of the talented men and women -- including several of my colleagues from the Justice Department -- who work tirelessly to fulfill some of the most difficult, and important, responsibilities in all of public service -- and to personally thank each of you for all that's been accomplished by the IG community since last year's awards ceremony.
Over the last few decades -- and, especially, in recent years -- your efforts have become essential not only in making the organizations you serve more efficient, more effective, and more accountable -- but also in preserving the principles that define who we are, and must continue to be -- both as a government, and as a people.
In the past year, you've exposed fraudulent charges and inflated costs for items provided to our troops overseas. You've pooled your resources to investigate the misuse of federal grant funds, and to regain millions of taxpayer dollars. You've helped to enhance the safety of our nation's transportation infrastructure, and have even developed new tools to help identify fraud and abuse.
At every level, today's awardees have made a meaningful, measurable difference -- and have helped government leaders and officials make the most of precious resources. In carrying out this work, you have served as a model of the highest standards of professionalism. And you've become instrumental in our efforts to safeguard and strengthen the American economy; to combat corruption, fraud, waste, and abuse; to meet the basic needs of the most vulnerable among us; and to strengthen this nation and defend its vital interests -- both at home and around the world.
Through each of these essential missions -- and in our government's most important operations and practices -- the work you do promotes integrity and accountability. As we all know: in the service of the American people, these principles aren't just important. They are everything.
Especially in recent months, as a result of nearly unprecedented budgetary constraints -- and in the face of once-in-a-generation economic challenges -- I realize that the demands placed upon federal employees have, in many ways, never been greater.
We can all be proud that the people in this room have responded to today's challenges not with frustration, but with resolve. And I know I speak for my colleagues across the Department of Justice -- here in Washington, and in each of our U.S. Attorneys offices -- when I say we are fortunate to count you as allies -- and as partners -- in ensuring efficiency, transparency, and sound stewardship of taxpayer dollars.
This morning, as we celebrate these achievements -- and recognize more than 70 extraordinary public servants on a job well done -- I'd also like to take a moment to pay tribute to those members of the IG community who, over the years, have given their lives in the course of their official duties.
From Honduras to the Himalayas; from Colorado to Oklahoma City; from Baghdad to Tehran -- Program Inspectors, Auditors, and Special Agents from the U.S. Postal Service, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, USAID, the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction -- and even the Department of Justice -- have been called to make the ultimate sacrifice.
Our country owes each of these public servants a debt of gratitude that we can never repay. But we can honor their legacies by continuing -- and building on -- their important work. In fact, the achievements we celebrate today are a most fitting tribute to their service.
So, as we look to the future -- and take steps to confront the urgent and unprecedented challenges that lie ahead -- I believe that we have good reason to be optimistic about where our efforts will take us from here. What you've accomplished over the last year is truly remarkable. But I know it is only the beginning. As we face tomorrow's challenges, we must continue to be diligent in our labors and honorable in our conduct. And -- with your help, your hard work, your expertise, and your ongoing commitment -- I am confident that all of the agencies represented here today will continue to thrive.
Thank you, once again, for the opportunity to stand with you this morning -- and to congratulate each of this year's awardees on a job very well done.