Secretary of Defense William S. Cohen presented today the President's Award for Distinguished Federal Civilian Service to David O. Cooke. Cooke's official title is director, Administration and Management for the Department of Defense, but to those who know his work, he's often referred to as the "Mayor of the Pentagon."
Also called "Doc" because of the initial letters of his name, Cooke was recognized at a Pentagon ceremony for exceptionally outstanding service to the nation through a distinguished career that spans more than 50 years. According to the citation that accompanied the highest federal civilian service award and medal, Cooke directly supported 12 secretaries of Defense and the Department's senior leadership managing the most complex administrative and management issues confronting the Pentagon.
"Perhaps his most enduring accomplishment," the citation read, "has been his tireless promotion of the meaningful employment of minorities, women, and the disabled, as well as the development of young people as an important future resource of the Department."
Cooke earned his nickname "Mayor of the Pentagon" because of his responsibilities for security, maintenance and operation of the Pentagon. He was the driving force that pushed the Pentagon's current renovation plan through Congress. The now-underway renovation is a billion-dollar project that will bring the 56-year-old building into the next century.
In his remarks during the award ceremony, Cohen said: "Today we honor a man who, in this city of temporaries, has become a pillar of stability and permanence. Doc Cooke truly is the 'mayor' and virtually everyone who has passed through the Pentagon over the last four decades has been touched by his decisions and his dedication. An old saying holds that there are two kinds of successful mayors-mayors who are feared, and mayors who are loved. In Doc's case, we have something of a paradox. People are afraid-afraid to believe he is so beloved by this institution."
Cooke is a graduate of New York State University College at Buffalo, N.Y., with a master's degree from New York State University at Albany, N.Y.; and a law degree from the George Washington University Law School where he was a member of the Law Review.
He is a member of the American Bar Association, the U.S. Maritime Law Association, the Federal Bar Association, the American Society for Public Administration, and the National Academy of Public Administration.