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This speech was given by the Comptroller General before the Roger W. Jones Award for Executive Leadership Ceremony at the American University School of Public Affairs in Washington, D.C. on October 24, 2006. The namesake of this award, Roger Jones, had a distinguished career in government, one that spanned many decades and a number of major departments and agencies. In particular, Roger Jones was known as a champion of education for federal managers and executives, and he received a number of high honors for his efforts to improve the quality of public administration. During my tenure as the head of three federal agencies, I've found that outstanding public servants share certain traits: great vision, solid values, and a deep commitment to the mission of their agency. To keep pace with the challenges that are coming, our government must also change. Government transformation is essential. In my view, the first order of business is to restore fiscal discipline. Washington needs to face facts and improve transparency over where we are financially and where we're headed fiscally. The simple but powerful truth is that effective government requires a first-rate workforce. To tackle current and emerging problems, government needs men and women who are able to think strategically, creatively, and decisively. Public service is a privilege. It's a chance to make peoples' lives better and their futures brighter. Public service is a calling where individuals and organizations can help build a better future for our nation and our world.

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