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Remarks of Laurie Robinson, Assistant Attorney General
Office of Justice Programs

2010 Assistant Attorney General Awards Ceremony

Thursday, December 9, 2010
Washington, DC

Thank you, Beth. And let me add my thanks to Rhea, Aubrey, and all those who helped organize today's event. (And let me say Mary Lou would be here with us but she's out in Palm Springs for the Indian Nations Conference.)

I'm glad to see everyone in such festive spirits - especially BJA, now that their conference is over. Speaking of, let me just congratulate Jim and his staff for a marvelous conference! What was the final count - more than 1,200 people in attendance, I believe? Plus, we had the AG, the Associate, Secretary Napolitano, and lots of other leaders from Washington and around the country. It was really just a great event - and a wonderful way to cap off the year.

And what a year it's been!

First of all, we had another amazing year in the grants department. We made over 5,000 grant awards totaling $2.6 billion. Considering this didn't include the Recovery Act, I think that's remarkable.

We've also made great strides this year in bringing science back to OJP. I know many of you have been directly involved in E2I - our Evidence Integration Initiative - which has really taken off, thanks to Phelan and everyone who's been working with him. We were briefed by the children exposed to violence and gang Evidence Integration teams a few weeks ago, and I was so encouraged by the level of enthusiasm - and the tremendous progress they've been making.

We also got a big boost recently when the Attorney General appointed the OJP Science Advisory Board. I'm really excited about this.

And, of course, 2010 saw two new leaders to our ranks - John Laub and Jim Lynch - both highly respected scientists - and I couldn't be happier to have them on board. I want to use this opportunity to again publicly congratulate John for winning the Stockholm Prize in Criminology, one of the most prestigious prizes for research in criminal justice.

And while we're talking about honors, let me also honor Howard Snyder in BJS. Howard won the American Society of Criminology's August Vollmer award - which is also a top award in criminology. I don't know if Howard's here, but my congratulations to him on behalf of OJP.

So we're burnishing our credentials, and we're moving ahead in so many areas.

I first want to recognize our support offices - OAAM; OCIO; OCFO; OGC; OCOM; and the Office of Administration. They've been doing such important work - without which we could not function, and ensuring we have the resources to get the job done.

And turning to the program side, 2010 was a great and productive year - BJA helped us strengthen our partnerships with the field and lead us in smart-on-crime approaches with programs like Smart Policing and Justice Reinvestment under Jim's leadership.

As Jim Lynch took the helm at BJS, it has revamped its publications and put out 31 separate reports on topics from public defense to crimes against the disabled.

In CCDO, Dennis and his staff have been deeply involved in the White House neighborhood revitalization initiative, and NIJ has been working hard on outreach with a series of exceptional speakers. What a great way to get all of DOJ involved and interested in research, and I know we'll see more of this under John.

OJJDP has been the lead under Jeff on the Defending Childhood Initiative - and we had a successful launch with the Attorney General back in September.

And OVC has done a great job under Joye's leadership in addressing critical gaps in areas like sexual assault and identity theft.

Linda and the SMART Office have been working hard to help states with SORNA implementation. And I know those are such difficult issues.

And I just have to praise Beth because when it comes to all those internal matters, which are so intricate and involved, I know I can just turn things over to her and they'll be handled beautifully. So thank you, Beth, for all you do.

And there are so many other things I could mention: Our work in the reentry arena, which Marlene and Amy are spearheading; the tribal issues, with Gena and others; the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, which Thomas has been leading, and I could go on.

Now it's time for our awards. As always, we have an outstanding group of award recipients. I'm going to call each awardee's name, then if you'll come up, I'll read a brief bio, then present you your award.

Our first award recipient is Lara Allen from the Office of Audit, Assessment, and Management.

And by the way, Lara gets the award for the longest nomination submitted!

Lara's receiving this award because of the excellent work she's done improving OJP's oversight of grants. This isn't always a popular job, as all of you know, but it's so critically important. Lara works closely with the program offices to help them meet their monitoring thresholds in a way that's both effective and reasonable.

She's helped find ways to better coordinate site visits and other monitoring activities so we're getting the most out of our staffing resources and minimizing the burden on the grantee. She also chairs a Monitoring Working Group, which is always busy looking for ways to make our monitoring efforts more efficient. Lara's initiative has been so critical, especially with all the awards we've made over the last two years.

Congratulations, Lara!

Our next award goes to Bill Brantley from OCOM.

As most of you know, Bill is my speechwriter - and since we're all about fairness and transparency here, and since I was on the selection committee, I feel it's important to let everyone know that I didn't nominate him.

I know many of you have worked with Bill on remarks for me and other Department officials, including the Attorney General. So, you are familiar with his professionalism and raw talent. Bill's work is instrumental in our efforts to articulate OJP's priorities and many accomplishments. In the course of a single month, Bill can be called on to draft speeches on topics ranging from corrections issues to victim assistance programs - and from indigent defense to gang violence.

Bill's impressive ability to quickly research and synthesize these diverse subjects is rivaled only by his proficiency with the written word. And, he does this all under intense deadline pressure. In fact, in just a one-week period earlier this year, the Attorney General and OJP leadership delivered six speeches drafted by Bill. Amazingly, every time, Bill comes through with thoughtful and meticulous drafts, and he never fails to do so without a smile. Congratulations, Bill!

Our next award recipient is Charlotte Clarke from OVC.

Charlotte has led much of OVC's work on federal, military, and tribal-related issues for the last 10 years. Thanks to her outreach and constant networking, agencies like the BIA, ICE, and the Postal Inspection Service now have bona fide victim assistance programs. Wow - that's amazing!

She's helped to make sure that federal agencies are well-trained in victim services, and she's led our efforts to provide emergency services to victims of human trafficking, terrorism, and other federal crimes. She was also the impetus behind the establishment of a new DOJ working group on victims' rights, and she's been right there as part of that group helping to draft a new edition of the AG Guidelines on Victim and Witness Assistance, which are due out this month. Excellent work, Charlotte!

Next is Joann Foster from the Office of Administration.

Joann is one of the true stalwarts of OJP. I remember when I was here back in the 90s with Mike Dalich, always going to Joann whenever I needed information about correspondence or tracking things at Main or just about anything else process-related. I knew I could always turn to Joann for an answer. So it was a relief to me to find her still working in OJP when I returned last year.

One of the things about Joann that I value so much is that she's always concerned about OJP's relationship with its stakeholders and the public. She works so hard to make sure we're responsive to correspondence - nothing is unworthy of our best effort, and she sees to that. Of course, in addition to being dedicated, creative, and hard-working, she's also one of the longest-serving employees in OJP - 27 years, to be exact, which is just amazing!

Thank you for everything, Joann!

Next in our stellar list is Jolene Hernon from NIJ.

As you all know, one of my top priorities is improving the way we get information - particularly research-related information - out to the field. Jolene Hernon has been doing that as head of NIJ's Office of Communications for the last five years. When I left OJP in 2000, NIJ's publication function looked a lot different than it does today. In fact, I learned from Nancy Ritter that there's even a short-hand to reflect the pre-Jolene era - "BH," for "Before Hernon."

Jolene has revolutionized NIJ's dissemination of evidence-based knowledge, using every tool available - Webcasts, e-blasts, videos, trade pub articles, podcasts, blogs - you name it, she's done it. And she uses things like Web analytics and focus groups to measure our effectiveness in outreach. Now, thanks to her, NIJ's communications function is cutting-edge and vision-oriented, and we have a presence in the field that we've never had.

This is terrific, Jolene!

Our next recipient is LaKisha Honore from OAAM.

LaKisha serves as the Administrative Officer in OAAM, and she's a Jack (or shall I say a "Jill") of all trades. I know one of the great frustrations of new OJP employees is that it sometimes takes so long to get office space set up. This never seems to be a problem with LaKisha. During a recent OAAM hiring blitz, she worked to set up four new hires.

On top of these duties, she helped administer the OJP Consolidated Peer Review contract - and I know many of you are aware of what a big job that is. There are scores of seasonal employees ferrying through the process, and she somehow manages to stay on top of everything. She even provided her services as a mentor to staff in my office, for which I am personally very grateful.

So thank you, LaKisha, and congratulations!

Our next recipient is Dean Iwasaki from BJA.

Dean is considered by his colleagues a model State Policy Advisor. This year, he reviewed and approved some 450 redbooks, which meant many long days - and nights. But in addition to that, he's taken on other duties above and beyond his usual responsibilities. For example, he developed a 42-page step-by-step guide on how to process redbooks, and he provided redbook training to other BJA staff.

He's routinely called on by BJA's Policy Office to provide input into time-sensitive projects, and he's looked to for advice on everything from Hill requests to new hires. Dean's colleagues say he never says "no," and he's always there to lend a hand or offer guidance.

Thank you, Dean, and good work.

The award goes to Kristen Kracke from OJJDP.

Kristen is one of the Department's leaders on the AG's Defending Childhood Initiative, as well as our Children Exposed to Violence E2I team - and her knowledge and background have been invaluable. I know this issue's been a passion of Kristen's for many years - going back to the 90s when she helped launch the Safe Start Initiative, which really is the genesis of the Department's work in this area.

One of her most important of many contributions is that she co-authored the National Survey of Children Exposed to Violence bulletin, which does such a great job of distilling research findings into practical policy guidance. And she really was the force behind getting the AG to announce the Survey findings at the American Academy of Pediatrics conference last year - which was a very big deal.

So wonderful work, Kristen!

Our next recipient is Laks Prabhala from OCIO.

As we all know, the last two years have been exceptionally busy, and OCIO has felt the strain as much as anyone. Laks has done such extraordinary work keeping on top of all the technology changes and keeping our systems secure. Thanks to his close attention to detail, we were able to avoid any major service disruptions or delays.

He provided coordination and response to four major IT audits - and as a result of his efforts, OJP received a Clean Audit status and recognition throughout by Department - an historical achievement.

Laks worked collaboratively with the various offices, bureaus, and JMD to meet IT security requirements. He provided exceptional technical solutions in support of highly visible and sensitive efforts, and he and his team worked around the clock on the Next Generation Project. Congratulations, Laks!

The next award goes to Lisa Price-Grear from BJS.

Lisa wears many hats as a Management and Program Analyst. She serves as peer review coordinator; coordinator of FOIA requests; liaison to OMB on the Paperwork Reduction Act; liaison to OCFO, HR, and the Contracts Office; and BJS's point of contact for interagency and reimbursable agreements. And that's just the short list!

She also trains management and staff on key computer applications, and she's helped BJS establish effective controls over spending, procurement, publication reviews, redbooks, close-outs, and a whole host of other things. I get tired just saying it!

Thanks so much, Lisa!

Our next award goes to Rebecca Rose from BJA.

Rebecca is one of those rare people who can see the big picture while paying attention to the details. A good example is the work she's done to improve the peer review and application review processes in BJA. Rebecca developed a tier-based system that helped categorize applications based on key elements. With all the thousands of applications BJA receives in a year, this made it much easier to focus on the strongest applications.

She also manages multiple projects under the Justice and Mental Health Collaboration Program and the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program. On top of all this, she served as the Acting Senior Policy Advisor for Substance Abuse and Mental Health for several months. She's also a core part of the Interagency Task Force on Drug Endangered Children that DOJ is leading.

She was nominated by several different people, and they all used words and phrases like "positive" and "can-do" and "problem-solver." Just the kind of person you want as a colleague. Congratulations, Rebecca!

We have one more award. This is a special Lifetime Achievement Award, and it goes to Larry Hailes.

I'm so happy to present this award because Larry's been such an important part of the growth and history of OJP. Larry's been in public service for 32 years now - which is just amazing! He began his career in OJP 20 years ago as a staff accountant, and he rose steadily through the ranks - first as Director of the Financial Management Division, then as Deputy Comptroller, and finally as Associate Chief Financial Officer for Grants Financial Management.

He's been tried and tested over and over again - from the 1994 Crime Bill all the way up to the Recovery Act, and continuing today. I don't need to remind anyone here what a challenging year last year was in terms of grants, but no one felt those challenges more than Larry and his staff. Thanks in great part to his leadership, OJP was able to move 99 percent of its Recovery Act grants out the door in seven months, which helped ensure that DOJ had the fastest rate of Recovery Act awards of any Cabinet agency.

But Larry kept going. He led - and continues to lead - a vigorous monitoring effort. Last year alone, his team monitored almost 1,000 grants, amounting to 10 percent of the total amount of all active awards. That's incredible!

Larry oversees a staff of 45 people, and he has a talent for bringing out the best in all of them. He's so well liked and so highly respected by staff and management alike - and I'm so grateful for all his service to OJP. Thank you so much, Larry!

* * *

How about one more round of applause for our recipients. . .

Thank you all again for coming, and thank you for everything you do throughout the year.

Please enjoy the refreshments, and happy holidays, OJP!


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