Fedblog FedblogFedblog
Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

What Serving America Is All About


I enjoyed another awe-inspiring night at the Service to America Medals awards gala last night. As always, the Partnership for Public Service did a great job of identifying worthy federal winners of the awards, and their accomplishments are stunning.

Federal Employee of the Year Dr. Lynne Mofenson of the National Institutes of Health has made it her mission to prevent mother-to-child transmission of AIDS -- and has largely succeeded. Susan Angell of the Veterans Affairs Department and Mark Johnston of the Department of Housing and Urban Development, along with their colleagues on the Homeless Veterans Initiative Team, have worked together to come up with innovative ways to provide housing for vets. Charles Scoville, chief of the Amputee Patient Care Service at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, used the techniques of sports medicine not just to get wounded warriors back on their feet, but competing in triathlons, climbing Mt. Everest and jumping out of airplanes.

The undercurrent of the evening, as always, was the notion that if only Americans knew more about these kinds of stories, then trust and faith in government might not be so low. Having been to the Sammies gala for many years now, I have a growing frustration with the lack of progress on that front. Because with the greatest respect for all the work the Partnership puts into this program every year, the fact is, it's just not that hard to find these stories. After all, the Partnership has been doing it for years, and makes no claim to having identified every worthy federal employee. For each person honored, there are dozens standing behind them contributing mightily to their accomplishments -- and thousands more toiling in obscurity.

One especially inspiring moment came near the end of the event, when Dr. Neal Young, chief of the Hematology Branch at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute at NIH, discussed his efforts to come up with a new treatment for aplastic anemia, a rare blood disorder. Noting that several other award winners had found ways to save the government money, Young noted that he simply spends federal dollars. So he credited members of Congress with providing funding for NIH's work, and thanked the American public for supporting its efforts.

Young and the other winners, in addition to being employed by the federal government, have one thing in common: They are relentlessly outcome-driven. Each is clearly working toward lofty goals: from eliminating disease to cutting the Navy's cost of purchasing ships. In most cases, they have set specific targets toward those goals that have resulted not only in ongoing  measurable progress, but  dramatic breakthroughs.

So today, you might ask yourself: What exactly am I trying to accomplish, and more importantly, what have I done for the American people?

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.