"What's new on the site today?" Clark asked. "After all, we're in the news business now, right?"
With the bar thus raised, we did our best to respond. Ten years later, we've had the opportunity to cover more than 20,000 stories, from the mundane to the historic. We cut our teeth on the Clinton administration's reinventing government effort. At the moment we launched, the "reinvention revolution" was giving way to a second-term effort that focused more on cutting programs, staff and budgets than on empowering front-line workers and eliminating regulations. Indeed, in our first month online, we asked, "What Happened to REGO?"
Some stories never seem to change. Does this 1998 headline sound familiar? "Clinton Approves 3.6 Percent Pay Raise." How about this one from the same year? Federal Benefits Outweigh Private Sector's."
By the time the Supreme Court sorted it all out in 2000, we were bold enough to issue some advice to George W. Bush: "Attention, Mr. President: Federal Management Matters." And we were there when he issued his response, in the form of the President's Management Agenda.
Just days later, that agenda would be overshadowed by the tragedy of Sept. 11. We published 10 stories on that day's events, followed by hundreds more over the following weeks. We became a virtual round-the-clock news operation, with reporters dispatched to New York and dashing back and forth to the Pentagon to file stories that our small staff struggled to edit and post as quickly as we could. In the midst of the horror, confusion -- and then the steely resolve to go to battle against a new kind of foe -- we were never more proud of the people who we are fortunate enough to report and write about on a daily basis.
In Sept. 11's aftermath, we were among the first news organizations to report on and publish the Bush administration's complete plan to create a new Homeland Security Department. We followed up with dozens of stories on the movement of the plan through the legislative process. When bargaining rights for federal employees became the key sticking point in the battle over the legislation, we were there to provide expertise on relations between public employee unions and the administration.
Later in 2002, our reporter Jason Peckenpaugh, relying on sources he had cultivated over more than a year, broke the story that the Army was planning the most ambitious federal outsourcing effort ever, putting more than 200,000 jobs up for competition with the private sector. Soon, Army agencies, federal labor unions and congressional offices were abuzz with the news. By Nov. 3, The Washington Post had published a Page One story on the controversy, noting that the GovExec.com story had started the furor.
In the years since, our reporters have produced other groundbreaking stories too numerous to count. Here are just a few examples:
- George Cahlink was there when the Navy cruiser Constellation launched the first strikes in the war against Iraq in 2003.
- Shane Harris, now at National Journal, uncovered contracting abuses at the Federal Technology Service.
- Karen Rutzick reported on the legal battles over personnel system overhauls at the Defense and Homeland Security departments.
- Chris Strohm, now with CongressDaily, contributed both on-the scene reports and a photo essay from New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Sort of like GovExec.com as a whole over the past 10 years.