WASHINGTON – Today, Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, spoke on the Senate floor to recognize Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) employee, Mr. Don Marfisi, for his exemplary dedication to public service.
To watch a recording of the speech on the Senate floor, click here.
Chairman Carper’s statement, as prepared for delivery, follows:
“Mr. President, over the past two years, I’ve had the great privilege to chair the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs. Our Committee has many responsibilities, one of those being oversight of the Department of Homeland Security.
“The Department is just shy of 12 years old, which is pretty young compared to other agencies. It was established in 2003, following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, and brought together 22 agencies under one new Department. Trying to form one, unified agency has not been easy. There have been growing pains. However, Secretary Jeh Johnson, Deputy Secretary Ali Mayorkas, and their leadership team have made great strides in addressing these challenges and I am confident that their hard work will continue… and pay off.
“But behind the leadership team at DHS are the more than 200,000 men and women who go to work each day to fulfill one critical mission: to create a safe, secure and resilient place where the American way of life can thrive. Whether these employees are countering terrorism, securing our borders and airports, responding to natural disasters or bolstering our defenses in cyber space, few other federal agencies and employees touch the lives of Americans on a daily basis more than the Department of Homeland Security.
“As Chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I have had the great pleasure of meeting with many of these men and women and learning more about their work, their families, and their dedicated service to our nation. I’ve also heard DHS leadership from across the Department, including Secretary Johnson, sing their praises and describe the mission-critical work they perform day in and day out in communities across our nation.
“Mr. Don Marfisi of Kansas City, Missouri is one of those employees, and I would like to acknowledge his service here today. Don grew up in Omaha, Nebraska and is the son of a civil servant and homemaker. His father worked for the City of Omaha, his brother worked for the Department of Justice and his son currently works for the Metropolitan Community College in Kansas City, Missouri. Clearly, public service is a deep tradition in his family – and from what I hear, something Don takes to heart.
“Don began his federal service more than 24 years ago as a Supply Clerk with the U.S. Department of Agriculture Farm Service Agency in Lincoln, Nebraska. Four years later, in August 1998, he joined the Immigration and Naturalization Services in the Department of Justice. After a little over a year there, he was transferred to Citizenship and Immigration Services in the Department of Homeland Security.
“Within Citizenship and Immigration Services, Don works at the National Records Center where he is responsible for logistics, procurement and property management. You can still find him there today. In fact, his colleagues consider him a ‘Cave Pillar,’ having worked at the Center since opening day. What does the National Records Center do, exactly? According to the Department, it is the keystone to USCIS’ recordkeeping — housing millions of paper records that have been centralized into a single, state-of-the-art facility. The Center where Don works improves the integrity of USCIS’ recordkeeping and dramatically reduces the time it takes to retrieve a file or paperwork, meaning faster application processing for an agency charged with overseeing our nation’s immigration system.
“Don’s current job title — Missions Support Specialist — doesn’t quite do his work justice. His colleagues tell me that Don is not just a “support specialist” but an integral part of the National Records Center’s mission support team and plays an important role in nearly all of the logistics-related projects executed at the Center. In this position, he develops and administers best-practices for federal procurement and property management. While he avoids the spotlight, he is highly valued and sought-out for his expertise in the asset management field. Don’s colleagues tell me that: ‘Through his painstaking attention to detail and timely responsiveness … he has provided a superior level of customer service to local employees and other stakeholders.’
“Don’s attention to detail ensures that folks within Citizenship and Immigration Services have the tools and resources they need to get their job done. But Don’s critical eye and expertise in procurement is also credited for saving the government and taxpayers over $500,000 in fiscal year 2013 and over $800,000 to date in fiscal year 2014. Let me repeat that: Don has saved American’s taxpayers $1.3 million dollars over two years. But his service and stewardship doesn’t end there. At the same time he’s saving the Department hundreds of thousands of dollars — he’s finding a way to give back.
“Along with the money he’s been able to trim off the federal deficit, he has managed to arrange the contribution of nearly $800,000 in equipment to local schools through the General Services Administration Property Disposal program. Through this program he ensures that unused or older government equipment goes directly to local schools. Because of his efforts, computers and other equipment that would otherwise be trashed or recycled are used to boost education. As you can imagine, the educators, communities, and students who receive the equipment have been overjoyed with the generous donations. But don’t just take my word for it.
“In 2012, Miami R-1 School District, in Amoret, Missouri, a small K-12 school located on the Missouri border in the middle of corn fields and cow pastures received $45,259.66 worth of recycled technology equipment. Sharon Knuth, the school’s technology administrator wrote to Don, saying that her District was ‘blessed by the GSA Property Disposal program.’ Adding, ‘we are limited in our funds and budgets so we do not always have the chance to purchase the latest technology equipment. Because of your generosity, we will put the computers, monitors, speakers and plugs, to good use… We will grow and prosper only because we found some great friends like you who gave us support along the way.’ Another school in Chadwick, Missouri thanked Don for the ‘blessing’ of new technology they received through his efforts.
But there’s more. Don was also a member of the Office of Equal Opportunity & Inclusion’s (OEOI’s) Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) Program team which facilitated more than $1 million in computer equipment donations in fiscal year 2014.
“Don has been recognized for his extraordinary accomplishments in years past. In 2013, for example, he was recognized as ‘USCIS Employee of the Year’ and as one of the National Record Center’s ‘Employees of the Quarter.’ Yet despite these great accomplishments and high praise from his colleagues, Don insists that every award is a “team award.” And when he learned he was gathering such high praise for his work, his response was that “Being recognized for your efforts is appreciated, however, I’m the fortunate one, I get to reuse items and give – two things I enjoy doing.” Like a true leader, he is humble.
“Don reminds me of something I learned from Department Secretary Jeh Johnson during his confirmation. I learned that one of Secretary Johnson’s guiding principles is a lesson from Dr. Benjamin “Bennie” Mays, the former President of Morehouse College, who said, ‘you earn a living by what you get; you earn a life by what you give.’ Think about that for a second, and then think about Don and all the giving he has done throughout his career. Mr. Secretary, you have a remarkable employee in your ranks.
“But Don’s service doesn’t end at the Department – he has a couple of other critical roles: husband and father. He has been married to his wife, Pam, for 30 years and has a son, Josiah and daughter, Anna. And when he’s able to find some well-deserved downtime, he enjoys watching Nebraska Cornhuskers football with his family. To Pam, Josiah and Anna: thank you for sharing your husband and father with us. He’s done some extraordinary work for his country and community. We are incredibly proud of him and we bet you are too.
“To Don Marfisi: On behalf of my colleagues here, and the nation, I want to thank you for what you do each day, for your tireless service and your immeasurable generosity to our great nation.”