In Colombia and elsewhere, USAID is at the forefront of the US government’s efforts to respond to the coronavirus pandemic. As a Contracting Officer working for USAID/Colombia, Nathan Strand (Maxwell, ’13) plays a significant role in the US government’s response in-country. Since the onset of the pandemic, USAID has kept up and redoubled its efforts to support development programming and humanitarian assistance in Colombia, while adjusting to the evolving situation on the ground. Although the entire country has been on extended lock-down, the U.S. Embassy in Bogota adjusted quickly to full-time telework. Numerous US citizens, including Nathan, were evacuated back to the United States, but continue to work remotely. In addition to maintaining their existing portfolio of contracts and grants to support the Colombian peace process and provide aid to Venezuelan migrants, they are directing additional time and resources towards helping Colombia respond and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. With approximately 22,000 cases reported as of this week, the risk of overwhelming the health system is severe, as for most developing countries. Nathan and his colleagues expect this COVID-19 response work to continue well into the future, ultimately reshaping a great deal of USAID’s work in Colombia and other affected countries.

Learn more at USAID’s Colombia webpage

On a normal day, U.S. Consular Agent Marian Han Nguyen’s duties in her sleepy one-woman office in Cusco, Peru, range from stamping passports to registering American babies. But when Lima announced it was closing Peru’s borders on March 16 to stop the spread of coronavirus, Nguyen’s job changed overnight to Lara-Croft-style bounty hunter. She had 24 hours to track down an unknown number of Americans trekking the Incan ruins of Machu Piccu, a five-hour train ride away, so they could escape before its airports shut. Then she had to figure out how to get anyone else left home.

Nguyen reached out on social media groups for U.S. trekkers and handed out her personal cell number to just about any American who called or emailed. When authorities shut down car traffic, Nguyen, five months pregnant, walked roughly 45 minutes each way to her office through the high-altitude Andean city, negotiating police checkpoints. Eventually, she helped some 1,300 Americans return on 10 chartered flights. She and her husband are staying put, as are the 30 or so Americans she keeps in touch with still in Cusco. And at the six-month mark of her pregnancy, she tries not to overreact if she coughs or sniffles.

Read the full article on TIME magazine’s website

Update: We heard from Marian in late May, and she and her family are doing fine. Her baby is due in August!

Midcareer federal workers have accomplished a variety of feats such as creating the most accurate clock in the world, developing ways to see crime scene evidence invisible to the human eye and finding new ways to track influenza around the world. The government employees behind these extraordinary efforts and other career-defining moments will be honored with this year’s Arthur S. Flemming Awards.
The 71st annual Arthur S. Flemming Awards honor the accomplishments of 13 federal employees (listed in detail below) from agencies across the federal government. The Arthur S. Flemming Awards Commission partners with the George Washington University Trachtenberg School of Public Policy and Public Administration and the National Academy of Public Administration to present the awards.
“This year’s honorees have all pursued their missions and goals to remarkable effect and, as a nation, we stand to reap great benefit from their work,” Peter Williams, the president of the Arthur S. Flemming Awards Commission, said. “Their achievements bring great credit on themselves, their colleagues and their agencies. We are very proud to recognize them in this manner and stand in awe of their individual success.”

It matters who fills government jobs during a crisis, as the Embassy Panama City staff working to assist U.S. citizens returning home proves. Read more about the federal response to COVID-19 in our round up of recent articles.

If you have resources and info you want to share with others, let us know and we will get the word out.

The Pandemic’s Big Takeaway: It Matters Who Fills Government Jobs
The coronavirus pandemic is terrifying, writes Thomas W. Ross, President of The Volcker Alliance. It has shaken and disrupted our lives, altering the way we think about day-to-day routines, our families, our colleagues, and our communities. The pandemic is also making it strikingly clear that the survival and security of people everywhere depends on government. Read more

A Nonpartisan Model for Developing Public-Service Leaders
As COVID-19 spreads around the globe, effective government leadership is especially critical. The need for skilled leaders is discussed in a new article in the Harvard Business Review that highlights the Public Service Leadership Model of the Partnership for Public Service, and top public servants such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, to illustrate the government’s pressing need for an updated approach to leadership development. Read more

Managing Risk in the Public Sector During the Government and National Response to COVID-19
The IBM Center for The Business of Government is starting a blog series that will explore lessons learned from the evolution of risk management in government; enterprise risk management (ERM) and how it can help improve decision making; managing the risks associated with artificial intelligence; and managing specific financial, IT, cyber, and program risks. Read more

All COVID-19 guidance issued by OPM is available in one place
The U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) works closely with a number of federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of State, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs (OWCP) at the Department of Labor to provide updated information to Federal agencies and employees as it becomes available. Learn more

New podcast series from the German Marshall Fund on the geopolitical implications of the coronavirus
On the first episode of GMF’s new mini-series “Post-Pandemic Order,” U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) joins Julie Smith to talk America’s global response to the pandemic, how the pandemic could (and should) alter U.S. foreign policy thinking, and the role democracies play in dealing with crises. Listen to the series

As we all adjust to spending endless hours on Zoom and other video conference services (watch this video for a hilarious take on them!) and wonder when life will return to normal, you can use the following articles to accelerate your transition to the new way of working.

Whether you are a manager responsible for keeping a team moving forward while working remotely, an employee trying to accomplish work despite the many disruptions of home life, or a job candidate facing an entirely virtual interviewing and onboarding process, there is something here for you.

If you have a favorite resource that you think would help others, please let us know. We also welcome your questions about working from home and communications topics, pandemic-related or not!

These folks have always worked from home full-time. Here’s what they say you should know

Coronavirus: Best Practices for Working From Home, According to a Six-Figure Social Media Entrepreneur
Covers the basics – schedule, space, and boundaries – in a very fast read, with great tips for appearing professional on video calls.

Virtual Presentations, Meetings Require New Approaches for Success

Here Are 8 Quick Tips To Keep You From Getting “Zoombombed” By Trolls

As we have seen our economy change we have heard of some employers like Amazon, Walmart, InstaCart and others hiring a massive amount of people to fulfill demand. These are all critical jobs during this time but there are some other employers who are hiring whose jobs and need for good people are just as critical. On March 25, 2020 the Intelligence Community held a virtual career fair where ten government agencies were looking for talented and dedicated individuals to work for our country’s national and homeland security. These ten agencies are still hiring so let’s take a look at each and their hiring needs.

Read more

It’s Public Service Recognition Week, and we want to thank all public servants for their extraordinary work, which is especially critical now to protect the health and safety of our nation during the coronavirus pandemic.  

PSRW is organized annually by the Partnership for Public Service and Public Employees Roundtable to shine a spotlight on the important and often unsung work of federal, state and local government employees. The week is designated by a bipartisan Senate resolution, a “Dear Colleague” letter from Rep. Phil Roe to fellow House members and a letter of support from 12 Cabinet agency heads who signed on as honorary co-chairs.

To all public servants, thank you again for your support and your service to our country!

Yesterday, the Partnership for Public Service announced 27 finalists for the 2020 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals. These outstanding federal employees are engaged in important work to strengthen our national defense, spur the economy, protect the environment and advance the health, safety and prosperity of our country.

The Service to America Medals are presented by the Partnership with special appreciation for Mrs. Ronnie F. Heyman and Family, Bloomberg Philanthropies, Chevron, Microsoft and the many other Sammies sponsors whose support makes the program possible.

See this year’s finalists at, and read about their incredible accomplishments in the finalist profiles, which include audio clips of the finalists discussing their work. You can also vote now for your favorite for the 2020 Sammies People’s Choice Award.

Please help us share the finalists’ stories of excellence in government service through your networks. @RPublicService #Sammies2020


Attend the 2020 Sammies Finalist Event

Axios and the Partnership are teaming up with CNN’s Anderson Cooper and bestselling author Michael Lewis to bring you a glimpse of the work by the 2020 finalists this Thursday, May 7, at 7 – 7:30 p.m. EDT.These unsung government heroes are working behind the scenes to address issues affecting the American public, from climate change and cybersecurity to the current COVID-19 pandemic. Register nowto receive the livestream link prior to the event.

#WhyIServe Survey

If you are a current federal employee, take the “Why I Serve” survey so we can highlight the importance of public service in our country. We’ll share these responses in a blog post and on the PSRW website this week. You can also share your responses on social media using #WhyIServe.

PSRW on We the Partnership

Throughout the week, we’ll be updating our blog with new posts with stories of public servants and tips to help you celebrate PSRW. Visit the blog.

White Board Campaign

Proclaim “I serve because…” or “I appreciate public servants because…” using the #PSRW templates.

Instagram Highlights

Follow @rpublicservice on Instagram for PSRW updates. We kicked off the week with a video message from Partnership President and CEO Max Stier thanking public servants.

  • Tuesday, May 5: Learn about “Digital Monuments,” a visual series created by a group of General Services Administration participants in the Partnership’s Excellence in Government program.
  • Wednesday, May 6: See how employees at the Department of Health and Human Services are celebrating PSRW as they take over our Instagram account.

Activity Pages for Children

Download activity sheets to help children celebrate public servants. Share their art on social media using #PSRW.

Connect on Social Media

Update your Facebook profile picture to thank public servants with the PSRW picture frame.

Be sure to let us know how your agency or organization is celebrating PSRW 2020 at @RPublicService or via email to

The Volcker Alliance is excited to announce the publication of Public Service and Good Governance for the Twenty-First Century, released on May 1, 2020, by the University of Pennsylvania Press. The volume, edited by James L. Perry and assembled by the Volcker Alliance, is dedicated to the millions of public servants across America who serve our nation and uphold our democracy.

The need for effective government is clearer than ever, but the path to strengthening our public institutions and assuring the success of our common endeavors remains rocky. Contributors to Public Service and Good Governance for the Twenty-First Century raise and answer critical questions including: what is the state of government today? Can future disruptions of governance and public service be anticipated? And lastly, and perhaps most importantly, what knowledge, skills, and abilities will need to be fostered for tomorrow’s civil servants to lead and execute effectively?

The engaging collection of essays from leading thinkers on effective government is available for purchase from Penn University Press. Order by May 4 and receive 40% off and free shipping! After May 4, enter promo code PP20 during checkout for a 20% discount.

The National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service, mandated in 2017 by Congress to bring forward strategies to bolster public service in the US, released its final report in March 2020. The report, Inspired to Serve, contains specific recommendations on actions that the federal government take to encourage and empower Americans to pursue public service in its many forms. In the following open letter to the President and Congress, the Robertson Foundation for Government and other good government groups urge leaders to heed the Commissioners’ findings and act on the recommendations.

An open letter to President Donald J. Trump and Members of the 116th Congress:

We are writing to you as organizations dedicated to inspiring public service and encouraging excellence in government. We welcome the final report of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service and its far-reaching recommendations to ensure that our government has the talent it needs to serve the public today and in the future.

Congress gave the Commission an extremely broad mandate to find ways to encourage and bolster public service, and from its earliest deliberations the Commissioners recognized that the antiquated federal civil service structure is simply unsustainable. Our government lacks a long-term strategy to retain and attract the brightest minds who can help solve our nation’s biggest problems. At no time has that been more clear than now.

As the heroic efforts to respond to the coronavirus show, we all benefit from dedicated, skilled public servants. We are not doing enough to retain top talent in government, or to build paths for young people to enter public service. We encourage you to engage with the members of the Commission about their findings, and to consider the views of the current workforce as well as young people making career choices. The Commission’s report offers a blueprint for moving forward with common-sense administrative actions and legislative improvements that could be included in this year’s National Defense Authorization Act or other legislation.

Association of Professional Schools of International Affairs (ASPIA) 

Federal Managers Association (FMA)

National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) 

National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE)

National Council of Social Security Management Associations (NCSSMA)

Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs and Administration (NASPAA) 

Partnership for Public Service 

Professional Managers Association (PMA)

Robertson Foundation for Government 

Senior Executives Association (SEA) 

The Volcker Alliance 


Bolded organizations are Institutional Partners of the Robertson Foundation for Government.