The Passing of Paul Posner

July 6, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

It is with much sadness in my heart that I share with you that 2009-2010 ASPA President Paul Posner died at home late yesterday, surrounded by his family, following a difficult battle with cancer, at the unfortunately young age of 70.

Paul was one of the best people I have ever known and one of the best that public administration has to offer. He was a steadfast friend, an extraordinarily dedicated public servant and he will be missed.

Paul’s biography, known to so many of us, was as impressive as it was broad. He served for more than 30 years at the U.S. Government Accountability Office, where he led its federal budget and intergovernmental work, and then joined George Mason University’s Schar School, where he directed the public administration program and led the university’s Center on the Public Service. He served as board Chair at the National Academy of Public Administration, and held many roles of distinction at ASPA, including president and most recently Endowment Board member. A prolific author, he was an expert in budgeting and federalism and had several award winning books on the subject to his name.

Even more, Paul embodied what we all strive for: He was a bridge between practitioner and academic, among individual organizations, among working groups. He harnessed the best at the organizations he touched for the betterment of public service, and we are all better off because we got to be a part of it.

Just a few weeks ago, I was honored to spend some time with Paul. What did he want to talk about? ASPA. We talked about our successes and challenges, my year ahead as ASPA president, the friends we knew and the political world in which we all work and operate. Throughout my time with him, I was reminded of Paul’s own words that he spoke during his time as ASPA president: “We enter our profession not because it is easy, but because it is hard. When the going gets tough, it is our business to rise to the challenge.”

Paul rose to the challenge at every turn, no matter the professional struggle, the organizations he was trying to bridge or the bigger vision he was constantly working to bring to reality.

And so, I encourage us all to pause and honor the memory of our cherished colleague and friend. It is my hope that in Paul’s spirit, we will join together, rise to our own challenges and continue to work to bring our visions to life, for the betterment of ourselves and our community.

With a Heavy Heart,
Janice Lachance
2017-2018 ASPA President

Service Details

Paul’s funeral will take place Sunday, July 9 at 1:30 p.m. at National Memorial Park, 7482 Lee Highway, Falls Church, Virginia.  Shiva will be observed at Paul’s and his wife Arlene’s home on Sunday, from 5:00-8:00 p.m., and Monday, from 6:00-9:00 p.m. The address is:
7621 Main Street
Clifton, Virginia 20124-1735
The Schar School has established a scholarship fund in Paul's name that will be awarded to qualified MPA students. His family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the “Paul Posner MPA Student Fund” at George Mason University. To donate go to  Donations should be made payable to the “George Mason University Foundation,” with “Paul L. Posner MPA Scholarship Endowment” noted in the memo line, and mailed to Zavin R. Smith, Office of Development & Alumni Relations, Schar School of Policy and Government/George Mason University, 3351 Fairfax Drive, MS 3B1, Arlington, VA 22201.  For further information, please contact Zavin R. Smith, Director of Development & Alumni Relations, Schar School of Policy and Government at George Mason University via email at