SOURCE: National Academy of Public Administration

National Academy of Public Administration

November 18, 2010 15:15 ET

National Academy of Public Administration Hosts Historic Dialogue With The Honorable James A. Baker, III and The Honorable George J. Mitchell, 2010 Recipients of The Elliot L. Richardson Prize for Excellence in Public Service

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - November 18, 2010) - The National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) hosted The Honorable James A. Baker, III and The Honorable George J. Mitchell, winners of The Elliot L. Richardson Prize for Excellence in Public Service, for an historic discussion about public service and good governance, moderated by journalist Ron Brownstein. The discussion took place at Georgetown University following the presentation of The Elliot L. Richardson Prize and was made possible through the generous contributions of The Hitachi Foundation and a partnership with The Georgetown Public Policy Institute.

The awards were presented by Elliot L. Richardson Prize Fund board member J.T. Smith and board chair Michael C. Rogers, who lauded Mr. Baker and Mr. Mitchell for their achievements and long-term dedication to public service and advancing the public good.

In the dialogue following the award presentation, moderator Ron Brownstein commented on the lack of trust that the American people have for elected officials in recent times and asked each honoree how our country can restore Americans' faith in government. "What can be done to restore trust in government would be to get this country back to a period of economic growth, opportunity and job creation," noted Senator Mitchell. "When people feel good about themselves and their lives, then they are less easy prey for demagogues and ideologues." 

Secretary Baker agreed, noting: "The bipartisanship that we knew and practiced in our day is hard to find now. We have gone from using the political process to build consensus, to treating politics as a blood sport. One of the complicating factors is the media and 24-hour news cycle. Today's media often takes sides rather than just reporting the news." He went on, however, to express his confidence in America's future over the next decade, noting, "One of our greatest strengths is the optimistic nature of our country. Even with our current economic problems, we represent 25% of gross domestic product in the world. Our democracy remains the most effective example of governance that continues to foster democratic free markets, not just in our country but around the world."

When asked to offer advice to today's young people interested in public service, Senator Mitchell noted: "Get involved in the political process. Today, there is too much criticism and pessimism surrounding government service and the political process. The most important thing in life is having a genuine, meaningful goal that is larger than your self-interest -- that's the real reward in life that comes not just from public service, but from effective public service."

"It is an honor for the National Academy, as the 'home of good government,' to partner with Georgetown's Public Policy Institute in this year's event, which recognizes outstanding contributions to the public service," noted Jenna Dorn, President of NAPA. "Good governance and good policy go hand-in-hand, and are the lifeblood of an effective federal government. The Elliot L. Richardson Prize stands as a beacon for both."

"Elliot Richardson's life commitment to public service and the common good was a beacon illuminating the highest and best values of the 20th century," commented Barbara Dyer, president and CEO of The Hitachi Foundation. "Though Elliot's last breath was concurrent with the final hour of 1999, we saw the Richardson Prize as a means to secure for the 21st century the principles of integrity, selflessness and dedication to service that were his legacy." 

About the Honorees
James A. Baker, III, has held senior government positions under three U.S. presidents. He served President George H.W. Bush as the nation's 61st Secretary of State from January 1989 through August 1992, a period when the United States confronted the unprecedented challenges and opportunities of the post-Cold War era. Mr. Baker served as the 67th Secretary of the Treasury from 1985 to 1988 under President Ronald Reagan. He served twice as White House Chief of Staff -- from 1981 to 1985 under President Reagan and from 1992-1993 under President Bush. His record of public service began in 1975 as Under Secretary of Commerce to President Gerald Ford. Long active in American presidential politics, Mr. Baker led presidential campaigns for Presidents Ford, Reagan, and Bush over the course of five consecutive presidential elections from 1976 to 1992.

Senator George J. Mitchell served as United States Attorney for Maine, and as United States District Court Judge for Maine. In 1980, he was appointed to the United States Senate from Maine to complete the unexpired term of Senator Edmund S. Muskie, who resigned to become Secretary of State. He was elected to a full term in the Senate in 1982, and reelected in 1988. He left the Senate in 1995 as the Senate Majority Leader, a position he had held since January 1989. Senator Mitchell served as chairman of the Peace Negotiations in Northern Ireland. Under his leadership, the governments of Ireland and the United Kingdom and the political parties of Northern Ireland agreed to the historic Good Friday peace accord. At the request of President Clinton, Prime Minister Barak, and Chairman Arafat, Senator Mitchell served as chairman of an International Fact Finding Committee on violence in the Middle East. The committee's recommendation, widely known as The Mitchell Report, was endorsed by the Bush administration, the European Union, and by many other governments. In 2009, President Obama appointed Sen. Mitchell as Special Envoy for the Middle East.

About the Elliott L. Richardson Prize
Originally established under the auspices of the Council for Excellence in Government, The Elliott L. Richardson Prize is presented biannually to individuals possessing the public service virtues exemplified by Elliot L. Richardson, a National Academy Fellow. Mr. Richardson was the only individual in our nation's history to serve in four Cabinet-level positions in the U.S. government: Secretary of Health, Education and Welfare (HEW), Secretary of Defense, Attorney General and Secretary of Commerce. Previous recipients of the $50,000 Richardson Prize include Colin Powell, Alice Rivlin, George Schultz, Norman Mineta, Sandra Day O'Connor, Lee Hamilton and Tom Kean.

About The National Academy of Public Administration
The National Academy of Public Administration is a nonprofit, independent organization of top public management and organizational leaders who tackle the nation's most complex challenges. With a network of more than 650 distinguished Fellows and experienced professional staff, the National Academy is trusted across government to provide objective advice and practical solutions based on systematic research and expert analysis.

Contact Information

  • To request photos from the award ceremony, please contact:
    Derek M. LaVallee