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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.

A Crime Thriller, Office Decorating Tips and GovExec

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Here at Government Executive world headquarters in Washington this week, we’ve been moving into a new suite of offices. That involves a lot of packing and unpacking, which in turn has unearthed some interesting items.

GovExec editor at large Tim Clark found a long-forgotten copy To Live and Die in L.A. by Gerald Petievich, a Secret Service agent-turned crime novelist. The potboiler, published in 1984, tells the story of law enforcement agencies’ pursuit of counterfeiter Rick Masters. “Two Treasury agents, John Vukovich and Richard Chance, are breathing down his neck,” according to a description of the novel on Petievich’s website. “Chance is a reckless hotshot who doesn't believe in playing by the rules; he'll get evidence anyway he can. If he catches Masters and makes it stick, he's a hero. But if Chance is caught he's finished -- unless he's willing to sacrifice Vukovich to save himself.”

In the novel, Petievich goes to painstaking lengths to realistically set the scene in the federal workplace. Witness this moment, when Vukovich is called into the office of Agent-in-Charge Tom Bateman:

Vukovich stepped inside. An abundance of hanging plants and family pictures decorated the office; Vukovich recalled that Jim Hart had once told him Bateman patterned the accoutrements from an article about office decoration in Government Executive magazine.

None of us currently at GovExec can remember an issue in the magazine’s long history that featured office decorating tips. But that doesn’t mean there wasn’t one.

To Live and Die in L.A. was made into a 1985 movie directed by William Friedkin and starring, among others, Willem Dafoe. To our knowledge, that classic of '80s film noir (featuring a killer original song by Wang Chung) did not include any references to Government Executive.

There’s always hope for a remake.

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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