lost a friend, a colleague, a mentor and an agitator this week. Ned Lynch, former columnist on the Web site and contributor of several articles to the magazine, lost his battle with cancer on Monday. In his several decades of experience in government, which included service at seven different federal agencies, staff positions on Capitol Hill and even a stint as a volunteer on the 1978 congressional campaign of George W. Bush, Ned gained a unique perspective on the federal sector. When Ned launched his "Ned on Feds" column for GovExec.com
in March 2000, he made it clear that he would bring that experience to bear in his writing-and pull no punches in the process. "This column will assess the proposals, posturing, analyses and acrobatics associated with federal employees and their impact on politics," Ned said at the time. "I view all with a jaundiced eye. In too many cases, proposals are propelled as a way of 'doing something for our people,' with very limited consideration of the cost of the proposed benefit, and virtually no analysis of the adverse operational consequences of adopting it." The sacred cows that Ned took on in his column included whether the government really needed to offer buyouts
to restructure its workforce, the alleged federal human capital crisis
, the level of discrimination complaints
in the workplace and Bush's management reform proposals
during last year's presidential campaign. Not surprisingly, many readers disagreed with Ned's conclusions. His editors often did, too. But there was no denying that he made strong, compelling arguments, and he knew what he was talking about. There was more to Ned than met the eye. He devoted a substantial portion of his time to helping federal managers and executives rewrite their resumes to improve their prospects of advancing in their careers. He also was one of the most critical-in the best sense of the word-readers of Government Executive
. He challenged us on a daily basis to tell the whole story, to look for the uncovered angle, and above all, never to take what any federal organization, labor union or interest group said at face value. He made us, in short, better journalists. Ned was, above all else, a fighter-for the things he believed in, against policies he unalterably opposed and, ultimately, for his own life. It's no surprise that he was more successful in his grueling battle against cancer than any of his doctors predicted. We'll miss him.