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ORS Director Ficca Retires After 33 Years at NIH

Stephen A. Ficca retired as director of the Office of Research Services on Mar. 1. At a reception on Mar. 5, he was honored for 33 years of service to NIH and 12 years as ORS director. Friends and colleagues congratulated him on his dedicated service, outstanding leadership and thoughtful guidance, including former coworkers from the National Cancer Institute and the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, where he worked before moving to ORS.

NIH deputy director Dr. Raynard Kington presented Ficca with a plaque commemorating his service. Ficca also received awards from his ORS colleagues and from the NIH Police in appreciation of his leadership.

NIH deputy director Dr. Raynard Kington (l) presented Stephen Ficca with a plaque commemorating his service.

Under Ficca's direction, ORS was recognized with a number of honors including Vice President Gore's Hammer Award for Process Improvement; a slew of awards recognizing energy and resource conservation; the Federal Agency Pollution Prevention Award; and the American Planning Association Professional Achievement Award for the NIH master plan. Ficca also won the 2002 DHHS Secretary's Distinguished Service Award and twice received the Presidential Executive Rank Award for Meritorious Senior Executive in 1990 and 1999.

Ficca almost didn't join ORS. In a 1993 NIH Record article, he spoke of his reluctance to accept the invitation from then NIH director Dr. Bernadine Healy: "I was pretty sure I didn't want it... so Dr. Healy agreed that I'd work for 6 months — no longer," Ficca recalled. He took the job on an acting basis only, but somehow, 6 months became 12 years.

"As time went on, I found myself more entrenched. I'm the type of person who takes things to heart, and my ORS roots grew rapidly and deeply," he said. Ficca oversaw a wide variety of challenges including construction of the Natcher Bldg. and the Clinical Center revitalization.

He received his B.S. degree in 1968 from the University of Baltimore and his M.B.A. in 1972 from Loyola College (Maryland). He attended the 1985 Federal Executive Institute's Executive Leadership and Management Program and the 1997 Harvard University Kennedy School of Government Senior Managers in Government Program.

Ficca began his professional career at NIH in 1971 as an administrative officer with NCI. Between 1971 and 1987, he held various positions with NCI including budget analyst, personnel management specialist, budget officer, chief administrative officer and deputy associate director for administrative management. From 1987 to 1992, he was executive officer for NHLBI. In 1992, with the strong support of Dr. Claude Lenfant, then NHLBI director, he became acting director of ORS and served as director since 1993.

Ficca helped ORS build and sustain a work environment characterized by quality services, innovative approaches to service provision and responsible cost management. Under his leadership, ORS tried to make every interaction with customers a positive one.

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