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U.S. Department of Energy's 30th Anniversary Celebration

October 9, 2007 - 3:14pm


Remarks as Prepared for Secretary Bodman

Thank you, Jeff.  Congratulations, Loy, and I understand that your wife Ingeborg and family are here as well - welcome.  Your record of service to this Department - and before that to one of our predecessor-agencies, the Interior Department's Power Marketing Group - is truly impressive.  I will now present you with a 30th anniversary pin and certificate in recognition of your service.  And, in doing so, I also mark the service of 849 of your colleagues - whose names are printed in the program - who have served this Department and its predecessors with distinction for over 30 years.

This type of dedicated government service is really a gift to our nation, and it reminds me of the real reason that we are standing here today - because what we are celebrating this morning is the hard work, commitment, and skill of the thousands of federal employees and contractors who have built this great Department over 30 years.

So let me add my sincere welcome to all of you, and my thanks to our distinguished guests and program participants.  A big thank you to the Amidon Elementary School Chorus - great job, kids!  The DOE has a special relationship with Amidon.  I've had the pleasure to visit your school, and I know that many of our employees volunteer there as well.

Reverend Bruce, thank you for that invocation and for your service to DOE.  Many thanks also to the Members of Congress who are with us today, as well as the Departmental leaders - past and present - the lab directors, and field managers.  I'd also like to thank my good friends Administrator Stephen Johnson and his wife Debbie Secretary Alphonso Jackson and his wife Marcia for joining us.

And while we regret that Admiral Watkins - our Department's 6th Secretary - could not join us today, I know we all wish him well as he recovers from surgery.  And, as Jeff mentioned, we're honored to have his wife here.  Janet, I hope you'll pass on to Admiral Watkins our collective appreciation for his contributions to this Department.  During his distinguished tenure as Secretary, he focused on a range of important issues - from strengthening our environmental protection and nuclear waste management functions to convening the first Science Bowl.  I also want to welcome back to DOE our first Secretary of Energy, Dr. James Schlesinger.

As we celebrate our 30th anniversary, it's true that we are - at least by the standard of Cabinet-level agencies - a young Department.  But the foundation on which this Department was built - from the Manhattan Project to the Atomic Energy Commission - has been nothing short of essential to America's greatest achievements of the past 70 years.

Today our responsibilities are diverse and complex, but our mission remains quite simple: we are engaged in a collective effort to advance the energy security, the economic well-being and the national defense of our great nation.  And, each day when we come to work - to whatever part of this building or across the DOE national complex - I know that we all share a deep appreciation of the great trust that the American people continue to place in us.

From the very beginning, this Department has stood for excellence.  Excellence in all we do, and in particular, scientific excellence.  For maintaining America's world leadership in the sciences is a thread that runs through nearly everything we do.  And over these past 30 years that leadership has produced extraordinary results, enabling advances in fields as diverse as the physical and environmental sciences, the life sciences and medicine, supercomputing, and nanotechnology.

Our reach goes beyond the walls of any DOE building or National Laboratory.  Each year, thousands of researchers from around the world work in partnership with us, and millions of people have benefited from the results.  The Department's work has led to some of the most important scientific discoveries of the past several decades.  As one measure of success, the Department has sponsored 45 Nobel Laureates since its inception in 1977 - and that total grows to 85 if you include our predecessor agencies as well.

And today we continue to push back the frontiers of science in support of our mission.  We are actively planning for the future as well, to make sure that the next generation of cutting-edge facilities are available to our nation's scientists and engineers.  To this end, we have just completed - and will soon release - an update of our 20-year-plan for large-scale science facilities.

As you can tell, I'm extremely proud of this Department and its history.  And so I'm pleased to announce that today the Department will take an important step in telling that history.  This afternoon, the new lobby visitors' center will be open to the public, showcasing some of the most important achievements of this Department - or, I should say, of the people of this Department.

Let me take just a minute to thank a few individuals who were instrumental in the development of this display.  First, I want to thank my wife, Diane, who had the great idea to create a "museum" of sorts in our lobby.  I also want to thank Deputy Secretary Clay Sell who energetically spearheaded this project, and Ingrid Kolb and her team for making it a reality.  Brian Costlow and Mary Anderson, in particular, have worked countless hours to ensure that the exhibit would be ready today.  I hope you all will take some time to walk through the lobby and see the results for yourself this afternoon.

I'll close by thanking you all for being here today.  I thank you for the contributions that you make everyday to this Department - and have made for these 30 years, and for the positive results that you will continue to achieve for our fellow citizens, our communities, and our world.

And now it is now my privilege to introduce Secretary Schlesinger.  As the nation's first Secretary of Energy, Jim Schlesinger set the standard by which all his successors - including me - have been and will be measured.  Secretary Schlesinger has truly lived a life of public service - service characterized by impeccable character, integrity, and, above all, an almost innate allegiance to doing what is necessary to ensure the security of this nation.  In government, he was beyond politics - serving both Republican and Democratic presidents, and never afraid to speak his mind and challenge prevailing conventions. Among many accomplishments, he sent this Department on a steady course for high achievement, and we have recently recognized this tremendous leadership by naming the Department's highest honor after him.  The James R. Schlesinger Award will be given annually by the Secretary of Energy.  Secretary Schlesinger taught us - and continues to teach us - that America must be at once bold in her ideas and steadfast in her ideals.

Thank you.

Location: Washington, DC

Media contact(s): Megan Barnett, (202) 586-4940