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In memoriam: David O. "Doc" Cooke.

This summer, those of us in public management--particularly in the career federal civil service--lost one of our giants. David O. "Doc" Cooke, director of administration and management for the Office of the Secretary of Defense and long-time contributor to this journal and supporter of a positive image for public service, died June 22 of injuries received in a car accident just outside Charlottesville, VA earlier in the month.

In addition to his leadership position as "mayor of the Pentagon" and through so many other roles that cut across departmental lines, Doc was an influential mentor to literally hundreds if not thousands of career and non-career public managers during the more than five decades in which he served.

It is with special fondness that I express a personal appreciation for Doc's impact on my own view of the public service beginning with a one-on-one job interview in his storied Pentagon office 15 years ago. It was with Doc's encouragement that I moved on from 20 years in human services and social justice programs--most with the Department of Health and Human Services--to a one-year loaned executive assignment with the relatively new President's Council on Management Improvement. For the next 10 years, including time spent with subsequent initiatives of the President's Management Council, the National Performance Review and the General Services Administration, I simply applied the passion that had brought me into public service to more generic issues of government management reform.

Similarly, and ironically, although he was anchored in Pentagon "staff' operations, Doc was at his best as a field general among the ranks of line managers from all corners of the federal bureaucracy. He was a public manager for all seasons. He cut through red tape and other extraneous matters and focused his energies (and those of countless interagency organizations in which he participated) on core issues and actions needed to move business forward. And while he was an indefatigable devil's advocate, Doc also was the ultimate optimist. With great efficiency--and a few well-placed words--the mayor of the Pentagon was the oil that made the monumental bureaucracy hum.

Now, this man of great stature will be greatly missed. What remains is for us to follow his example.
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Title Annotation:late director of administration and management for Office of the Secretary of Defense
Author:Master, Warren
Publication:The Public Manager
Article Type:Obituary
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 22, 2002
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