Unsung Heroes

cover art
266 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9780878405923 (0878405925)

266 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9780878405954 (087840595X)

July 1995
LC: 95-7073



Unsung Heroes
Federal Execucrats Making a Difference
Norma M. Riccucci

Winner of

This book explores an important side of public employment that most Americans never get the opportunity to see—high-level career executives who make positive contributions to our quality of life. Norma M. Riccucci profiles six "unsung heroes," the people behind the scenes of some of the most successful programs in American government, and identifies the tools, skills, and strategies that make them effective leaders.

Through in-depth interviews and provocative story-telling, Riccucci demonstrates that while these executive-level bureaucrats—or "execucrats"—may have an overall negative public image, they create, develop, execute, and enforce a number of programs and public policies that change our country for the better. She highlights six of these modern execucrats who best exemplify the creativity, determination, and leadership found in such officials:

—William Black, Senior Deputy Chief Counsel, Office of Thrift Supervision, who attacked the rampant corruption and mismanagement that created the savings and loan crisis;

—Eileen Claussen, Director, Atmospheric and Indoor Air Programs, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, who negotiated as intensely within her own government as with other countries to create an international plan to protect the earth's ozone layer;

—Ambassador Edward Perkins, U.S. State Department, the first African-American Ambassador to South Africa and the first American ambassador to meet with black South African leaders as part of his persistent efforts to end apartheid in that country;

—Stephen Marica, Assistant Inspector General, Small Business Administration, who investigated the Wedtech scandal, which bilked millions of dollars in fraudulent defense contracts from American taxpayers;

—Dr. Vince Hutchins, Director, Division of Maternal and Child Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, who spearheaded the team that developed "Healthy Mothers, Healthy Babies Coalition," a public-private partnership that improved, and even saved, the lives of thousands of newborn babies; and

—Dr. Helene Gayle, Division Chief, HIV-AIDS Division, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, who is actively battling the AIDS virus through education and prevention programs around the world.

Riccucci not only relates the intriguing tales of these six dedicated officials who overcame the challenges before them, but she also analyzes the specific factors—from knowledge of the system to honesty, integrity, and humor—that are needed to become a dynamic government executive. Of interest to those both inside and outside government circles, Unsung Heroes gives captivating insights into effective executive leadership.

Norma M. Riccucci is a professor of public administration at Rutgers University.
"In these days of so much cynicism about government, Unsung Heroes should remind us that there are still honest and courageous people working hard to serve the public interest. As a nation we simply have to do a better job in recognizing and supporting those who are making our democracy function better — efficiently, fairly, and without fear and favor. I'd like to think the kind of personal stories that Norma Riccucci tells can help encourage that effort."—Paul Volcker, former chairman, Federal Reserve Board

"An outstanding book. Riccucci describes both the complexity and intensity of high-ranking public service jobs and the remarkable commitment of the people who hold them. She provides very useful portraits of public leadership, which will contribute to a better understanding of public management, leadership in public organizations, and the role of execucrats in public policy processes and decisions."—Patricia W. Ingraham, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University

"An extraordinarily important, inherently interesting, and readable book. . . . Coming at a time when political rhetoric all but denies that 'bureaucrats' can do anything right, Riccucci reminds us that they can indeed do much to make the United States (and the world) a better place to live. Additionally, she provides us with a valuable framework for systematically understanding how top civil servants achieve policy objectives."—David H. Rosenbloom, Distinguished Professor of Public Administration, School of Public Affairs, The American University