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

When Drinking on the Job Makes You Better

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I've become a late-to-the-party devotee of Mad Men. One of the things that makes the show so engaging is its dedication to verisimilitude when it comes to historical accuracy, design and fashion -- oh, and also to the prodigious amount of in-office drinking that apparently went on in the 1960s. 

These days, of course, it's not fashionable to booze it up in the workplace. But does that mean that today's workers are better, and more productive? You'd think that would be the case, but apparently it's never been scientifically proven. And today in Slate, Matthew Iglesias highlights a study showing that getting moderately drunk can actually help people perform certain creative tasks. (Vindication for Don Draper!)

All of this made me wonder if it was ever the case that people who worked in government routinely opened meetings with a stiff drink. I have it on good authority that the folks who ran Government Executive back in the day did their fair share of boozing it up, both in the office and after they'd repair to local watering holes. But was that ever true among the people the magazine served? Or did people assume that when they were working for Uncle Sam, they needed to stay sharp at all times?

Maybe someone out there can enlighten me about life in federal offices in the Mad Men era. 

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.

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