Leon Panetta Receives 2024 Paul L. Posner Federal Budgeting Career Legacy Award

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The Paul L. Posner award was presented to Leon Panetta.

Leon Panetta, former U.S. Secretary of Defense and former director of the CIA, was presented with the 2024 Paul L. Posner Federal Budgeting Career Legacy Award at the annual spring lunch on May 20 of the Office of Management and Budget/Bureau of the Budget Alumni Society.

The award, sponsored by George Mason University’s Schar School of Policy and Government and presented this year for the 10th time, recognizes those who over a career made an important and lasting contribution to the federal government’s budget process and institutions and demonstrated high personal integrity and dedication to the public service. 

Presenting the award, OMB alumnus Joe Minarik said, “It is fitting that Leon Panetta is this year’s recipient of the Posner award recognizing his distinguished career in the federal service, in particular because he served as both chair of the House Budget Committee and director of the Office of Management and Budget.”

Panetta represented California’s 16th (now 17th) Congressional District from 1977 to 1993. During his final four years in Congress, he served as chair of the House Budget Committee, established 50 years ago by the 1974 Congressional Budgeting and Impoundment Control Act. 

He then served as President Clinton’s first director of the Office of Management and Budget, a position that built on his years of work on the House Budget Committee and where his deputy was former George Mason professor of public policy Alice Rivlin, later his successor as director of OMB. She was also the first recipient of the Posner Award.

From July 1994 to January 1997, Panetta served as chief of staff to President Clinton.

In the Obama administration, Panetta served from February 2009 to June 2011 as the director of the CIA. He then served as the Secretary of Defense from July 2011 to February 2013.

In presenting the award, the presenters noted how Panetta has dedicated much of his life to public service. Before returning to government in 2009 after his earlier service in the Clinton administration, he spent 10 years codirecting with his wife, Sylvia, the Panetta Institute for Public Policy, based at California State University, Monterey Bay, a nonpartisan, nonprofit center that seeks to instill in young men and women the virtues and values of public service.

In March 2006, he was chosen as a member of the Iraq Study Group, a bipartisan committee established at the urging of Congress to conduct an independent assessment of the war in Iraq.

Earlier in his career, Panetta served as a legislative assistant to U.S. Sen. Thomas H. Kuchel (R-CA); special assistant to the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare; director of the U.S. Office for Civil Rights; and executive assistant to Mayor John Lindsay of New York City. He also spent five years in private law practice.

The Posner Award is made possible by a grant to George Mason by alumni of the Bureau of the Budget, a group now merged with the Office of Management and Budget Alumni Association.

The Posner Award is named for the late Professor Paul L. Posner, who served as director of the Schar School of Policy and Government’s Master of Public Administration program at George Mason. He was former managing director for strategic issues at the U.S. General Accounting Office for 14 years; he worked at GAO for 30 years. He died in July 2017, at age 70.