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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.
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Interagency Collaboration—For the Birds

North America’s migratory bird population—whose delicate health is seen as threatened by climate change—has a tendency to choose flyways without regard to state and international borders.

Hence protecting migratory birds requires an intricate collaboration of federal agencies, academics and nonprofits from three countries. Many of those groups gathered May 18 at the Canadian Embassy in Washington to bestow multinational awards and release the first ever report on the state of North American migratory birds.

Compiled for the 100th anniversary of the U.S.-Canada Migratory Bird Treaty, the report, noted the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the first comprehensive assessment of the conservation status of all bird species that occur in Canada, the continental United States and Mexico.

“Where bird populations are dropping, the lands and waters that sustain us are stressed,” the report read.

 “This report shows that more than one-third of all North American bird species need urgent conservation action and calls for a renewed, continent-wide commitment to saving our shared birds and their habitats,” FWS said. “It is a call to action to governments, private industry and the public to come together to support a beloved shared resource.”

From Ottawa, a session...

Panetta Wishes Lawmakers Could Summon Courage from World War I Memorial

Former Pentagon and CIA chief Leon Panetta recently lent his good offices in retirement to raising money to build the planned World War I Memorial in Washington’s Pershing Park.

His motive in part, he made clear in remarks Wednesday at the National Press Club, is that “our elected leaders can use a little bit of that courage” displayed by the 4 million men a century ago “who were willing to fight and die and follow the orders they were given and sacrifice.”

Noting that as Defense secretary, he had responsibility to “deploy men and women in uniform to battlefields,” he called such sacrifice a “reminder of why this country is great.” It would be nice, Panetta continued, to travel up to Capitol Hill for budget talks and pass the site of the memorial, and “remember what will happen if you don’t have leadership that makes sacrifices and takes risks.”

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Panetta was joined by other notables serving on the special advisory board of the statutorily authorized U.S. World War I Centennial Commission, which has neared a final design for the memorial to everyday...

The Man Who Showed How to Make Government Work

Few Americans would recognize Dwight Ink on sight. But millions of them have benefited from the work he did over decades of service as a career federal executive in a host of agencies.

On Thursday, the National Academy of Public Administration honored Ink’s exemplary record of accomplishment by naming the Dwight Ink Fellows’ Hall at the academy’s headquarters in Washington in his honor.

In 2011, Government Executive listed Ink among “20 of the All-Time Greatest Feds” in our special “Excellence in Government” issue. “Known as ‘Mr. Implementation,’ Ink held positions in every administration from Eisenhower to Reagan,” Charlie Clark wrote at the time.

That service included stints at the Office of Management and Budget, the General Services Administration, the Housing and Urban Development Department, the Atomic Energy Commission, and as a founder of the Environmental Protection Agency.

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“Dwight’s work … stands as an example of the substantial contributions career executive leaders can make in service to the American people,” said Dan G. Blair, president and CEO of NAPA. “We are proud to honor these unsung heroes in honoring Dwight and hope that Dwight...

Do Government's Foibles Turn off Millennials?

Older employees “live to work,” but Millennials “work to live,” said acting Social Security Commissioner Carolyn Colvin at a panel discussion last week. “Young people are just not going to stay in the same positions, and we recognize that they have an outside life.”

That’s why the Social Security Administration has launched an array of programs addressing the four generations in its workforce, Colvin said at a May 3 symposium on “Changing Government” put on by the National Academy of Public Administration.

She spoke from the audience as the discussion turned to the nation’s 75.4 million people age 18-34—-the Millennials who last month overtook the vast Baby Boomer generation in sheer numbers. According to the Office of Personnel Management, that younger cohort in fiscal 2015 made up only 16.9 percent of the federal government’s full-time permanent workforce.

Millennials are more competitive, compare themselves with their peers, switch agencies more and use mentors, said Tim Bowden, a consultant with Management Concepts, which helped with the event.

SSA, which boasts an employee retention rate of 93 percent, seeks to engender loyalty with a career path program called SkillsConnect. It allows employees to spend 80 percent of...

Captain Make America Great Again: A Superhero Movie for the Time of Trump

The battle over the role of government in providing security and regulating the activities of its citizens isn’t just playing out on the presidential campaign trail. This weekend, in case you didn’t notice, it came to your local multiplex in the form of Captain America: Civil War.

In the film (warning: spoilers follow), Steve Rogers, the titular Captain America, becomes the de facto leader of a subgroup of the Avengers who take a go-it-alone approach to defending the United States, declaring that they shouldn’t have to submit to the authority of international or even national bodies, because those institutions are prone to fecklessness and corruption.

It is, I would venture to say, the perfect superhero movie for the time of Trump, an era in which the political discourse is dominated by a man who expresses contempt for international restrictions on military activity, argues that the electoral process is “rigged” and openly brags of buying off politicians.  

By this I don’t mean to suggest that Captain America and his band of followers are Trumpian in their politics (or even politically motivated at all). But they share an animating belief that political leaders are weak and unwilling to...