Today, we bid farewell to a remarkable public servant, David Anewalt, who retires from federal service after 40 years of excellence.
Officially, David is leaving our Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), where he has served as Deputy Chief Information Officer for two years. However, before he joined DOT, his long career had taken him from the Air Force to the Department of Defense as a civil servant and to the US Agency for International Development.
He is, to say the least, full of surprises, and he will be missed.
David's career began at the US Air Force Academy followed by a distinguished stint as an Air Force pilot. He couldn't quite separate from the Air Force and served in the Reserves while also pursuing a civil service career in the Department of Defense, much of it at Grissom Air Base in Indiana.
As he describes it, "I was serving in the Reserves at Grissom while also being CIO at Grissom. So I'm pretty sure I was one of the few CIO's in the country sitting at his desk in an orange flight suit. But what was I going to do? I love flying."
Moving to DOT, David says, was easy:
"It's important for me to see how my service fits in, how it affects people. And the work we do at DOT really touches every American in a positive way. I mean, it's hard to find something more important than working on safety. And, dry as it may sound, information technology at Motor Carrier supports that safety mission."
Consistent with that, David says he's pleased to leave behind FMCSA's new Sentri system. Sentri allows state and federal safety investigators to inspect trucks more easily, untethered from their offices. Using handheld devices and netbooks, truck safety audit data can be sent directly from the field to FMCSA databases at DOT's Volpe Center.
"The friendly web interface," says David, "allows us to collect more useful data on trucks, analyze it faster, and get it to Congress and others who need it to make our roads safer."
He says that, although he's been happy to have the opportunity to field questions from safety investigators, he relishes the interactions he's had with the truckers using FMCSA technology.
"Truck drivers don't have an easy life. It's hard to scratch out a living on the road like that. So every time we ask them to comply with this rule or complete that process, it can seem like another intrusion to them. I'm glad for the chance to help them see how these steps protect them as well as the goods they're transporting and the other users of our roadways. Most of them understand that."
That's the kind of thoughtful response that has made David such a valuable asset to federal service.
And now, he takes his considerable qualities home to Greensburg, Indiana, where he will--almost certainly--continue to serve his community.Happy trails, David Anewalt, and thank you for your service to this nation and its residents. You will be missed.