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Remarks From the 2010 Linton Brooks Medal for Public Service Presentation Ceremony

December 16, 2010

Good afternoon.  Thanks to all of you for being here today as we award the third annual Linton Brooks Medal for Dedication to Public Service.  I am honored to be here again this year to present this award to an outstanding young individual in the NNSA family. 

I often say that the best part of my job is the opportunity I have to highlight the great work done across the nuclear security enterprise.  That is particularly true when I have the chance to meet and work with the young men and women working at our sites – our next generation of nuclear security and program experts. 

You have often heard me say that “Our people are our greatest asset”.  In an organization that makes the extraordinary seem routine every day, it can be difficult to single out one or two individuals who stand above the rest.  The Linton Brooks Award is one of the ways we honor those people. 

There is nothing ordinary about the work that all of you do to keep our nation safe. There is no better example of this than Abby Cuthbertson which is why I am proud to stand before you to recognize her accomplishments.    

The Linton Brooks Medal for Public Service was first presented two years ago to recognize those new employees whose actions and deeds exemplify the spirit of public service commitment and achievement.  The award is named after Ambassador Linton F. Brooks, whose own dedication, vision and grasp of NNSA’s unique national security mission were critical in successfully guiding NNSA during five years of organizational and mission transformation. 

Before we get to Ambassador Brooks’ personal remarks and the presentation of the award,  I want to take a few minutes to thank Abby and talk a little bit about how important people like her are to the success of the NNSA. 

One of NNSA’s key missions is to secure and remove vulnerable nuclear material both domestically and around the world.  As the President said last in April in Prague, a terrorist acquiring enough nuclear material to make a nuclear weapon or a dirty bomb is the greatest threat to US national security.  To help guard against this nightmare scenario, the men and women of NNSA are working on the front-lines, fulfilling the President’s ambitious vision of securing the world’s loose nuclear material in four years. 

One of the greatest challenges we face is forging collaborative working relationships with our local, state, federal and international partners.  Abby has played a key role in advancing this critical mission.  From working to dispose material at DOE site offices to aiding the International Atomic Energy Agency in securing vulnerable material in South Africa before the World Cup this summer, Abby’s successes are best demonstrated by this incredible statistic; since the Off-Site Source Recovery Project (OSRP) was added to Abby’s portfolio in 2008, she has almost doubled the annual rate of sources recovered.  I know Neile will discuss this in more detail in a couple of minutes but let me just say this: Abby has done an outstanding job, and has helped make our country safer and more secure in the process.

This Linton Brooks award acknowledges the success of our NNSA employees here and across the country in developing that next generation of human talent.  This award recognizes someone who has accomplished significant things in a short period of time.  And this award recognizes an individual who sees a problem, takes the initiative and makes something happen.  Without a doubt, this is exactly what Abby has done and has brought to the NNSA. 

And that is why I am so proud to welcome Abby and her family here.  I had a chance to meet Abby’s parents, Kathy and James, a little while ago. It’s obvious how proud they are of their daughter.  I’m proud too.  Please join me in thanking Abigail Cuthbertson for a job well done.

For nearly 5 decades Linton Brooks has served his country.  He has served in the US Navy and has commanded a US Nuclear Submarine.  He has served as an Ambassador and negotiated Treaties that has made the world a safer place.  And he has served as our second Administrator in the NNSA where he shaped this organization and given it a real sense of purpose and commitment to Service.  If I was forced to pick only a few words to describe Linton Brooks I would have to chose between words like “humble servant”, or Public Servant, or The Man in the Arena.  In fact I am reminded of a short poem by Toreador Domingo Ortega which goes along the lines of:  “Bullfight Critics ranked in Rows, filled the enormous plaza full.   But there is only one that really knows, and that’s the man that fights the Bull” 

Now, I am honored to turn the platform over to our Humble Servant, our Bull fighter, please welcome Ambassador Linton Brooks, who has some special remarks to make on Public Service.