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Flag Bill to Honor Fallen Civil Servants Passes Congress

Terry Newell

On December 9, 2011, the Senate unanimously passed the Civilian Service Recognition Act of 2011. The legislation, which had previously passed the House on a unanimous 425-0 vote on November 2, 2011, authorizes federal agencies to give an American flag to families of federal civilian employees killed on the job as a result of a criminal act, terrorism, a natural disaster, or an extraordinary event as determined by the President.

The bill was introduced in May of 2011 in the House of Representatives by Rep. Richard Hanna (R-New York) and 21 bipartisan co-sponsors. Senator Daniel K. Akaka (D-Hawaii) introduced a companion bill (S. 1444), which had three co-sponsors.

According to the Office of Personnel Management, since 1992, nearly 3,000 federal civilian employees have died in service of their country, including 24 killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. Recognition for these sacrifices has been uneven; some federal agencies have presented American flags to the families of those killed in the line of duty, but others have not. This legislation allows the Office of Personnel Management to standardize these practices across federal civilian agencies.

The bill now goes to the President for signature.

“This benefit may seem modest, but it’s significant to our federal employees who work within this nation and in countless overseas posts,” Representative Hanna said. “I’m proud that our nation values service and sacrifice. A life can never be repaid but it can be honored; this bill ensures that.”

“Federal civilian employees serve our nation at home and abroad, fulfilling critical roles that protect our citizens, our economy, and our freedom,” Senator Akaka said. “I am proud to sponsor the Civilian Service Recognition Act, which recognizes that there are dedicated federal employees who put their lives at risk every day, and some who make the ultimate sacrifice, to protect our nation..”

The legislation has been supported by a wide range of groups including the America Society for Public Administration, the Senior Executives Association, the American Foreign Service Association, the Federal Managers Association and others.

The legislation has been supported by a wide range of groups including the America Society for Public Administration, the Senior Executives Association, the American Foreign Service Association, the Federal Managers Association and others.

Terry Newell was the dean of faculty at the Federal Executive Institute from 1994 to 2004. He is now retired from the federal government and is a private consultant. Email: [email protected]

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