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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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Hey Federal Techies -- Make Your Voice Heard!

If you work in federal information technology, you're operating in a world in which priorities, approaches and tools are evolving rapidly.

To better understand the changing dynamics of IT management, the Government Business Council -- the research arm of Government Executive Media Group -- is conducting quarterly surveys of government IT professionals. We intend to explore a number of issues, including the influence of CIOs and CTOs on agency missions; the opportunities and challenges posed by cloud computing; the value of opening more government data to the public; the risks and benefits of commercial and open source products; and advances in digital government.

If you're in the federal IT world, we'd love to hear your thoughts. Please register for the survey below:

Fill out my online form.

Watch Jerry Seinfeld Rip the Postal Service

Jerry Seinfeld does not like the United States Postal Service. More than one episode of his classic eponymous sitcom was devoted to mocking the foibles of the postal bureaucracy, and a central character in the series, “Newman,” was a letter carrier whose work was characterized by laziness and ineptitude.

In the years since Seinfeld aired, its star’s views of postal operations have apparently not mellowed. Far from it. In fact, during a segment on the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon this week, Seinfeld was, if anything, more biting than ever when it came to the Postal Service.

USPS and its employees, the comedian said, are:

a dazed and confused distant branch of the Cub Scouts, bumbling around the streets in embarrassing shorts and jackets with meaningless patches and victory medals, driving 4 miles an hour 20 feet at a time on the wrong side of a mentally handicapped Jeep.

I love how the postal system has this financial emotional meltdown every three to five years that their business model from 1630 isn’t working any more. I can’t understand how a 21st century information system based on licking, walking and a random number of pennies is struggling ...

Have Feds Been Off the Job 25 Percent of the Time This Fiscal Year?

Stephen Dinan of the Washington Times presented an interesting statistic yesterday: Since the beginning of fiscal 2014, federal agencies in Washington “have been closed in whole or in part for 27 of the 105 weekdays.”

In other words, the government in Washington has been open less than 75 percent of available days.

That’s a fairly incendiary factoid (“FEDS IN DC CLOSED 25% OF TIME!” screamed the Drudge Report in a tweet about the story). So it’s worth putting it in some perspective. Remember:

  • During the shutdown, large parts of government, including, eventually, the entire Defense Department, remained open. The hundreds of thousands of employees across the country who were “excepted” from furloughs continued to work.
  • It’s not as though federal employees wanted to be off the job during the shutdown.  In fact, they organized rallies where they begged to return to work. Congress kept employees home -- and, Dinan notes, the House and Senate have yet to put in a full Monday-Friday work week this year.
  • The federal government does not entirely shut down during snowstorms. Federal offices close, which is different. First of all, emergency employees are still required to report to work. Second, as Dinan points ...

Women: Hot Guys Don’t Drive Mail Trucks

Letter carriers at the U.S. Postal Service have a lot to worry about these days: a dramatically diminished workforce,  potentially dangerous after-dark deliveries and, of course, dogs.

Now you can add girl problems to the list.

According to a poll from Insure.com, women ranked “mail trucks” dead last when asked to evaluate the kind of vehicle attractive men drive.

Pickup trucks, sports cars and SUVs were the most popular options among the ladies, collectively accounting for three-quarters of the response. Mail trucks came in at just 1 percent.

Many Republicans in Congress have pushed for privatization of postal operations, and apparently, many women agree; UPS trucks came in two spots ahead of their Postal Service counterparts in the driver hotness rankings.

Insure.com polled 2,000 licensed drivers age 18 and over for the survey. 

(Image via B Brown/Shutterstock.com)

Try to Buy a Gorilla, Get a Federal Agent in a Gorilla Suit

Twenty-one years ago, federal agents conducted something that could either go down in history as something out of a movie. Or possibly something out of the Darwin Awards.

In 1993, American federal agents were tipped off by a Miami-area primate dealer that officials from a Mexican zoo were interested in purchasing a gorilla. Trafficking in endangered animals is against federal law and gorillas have been on the endangered species list since the list began. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, conducting the sting, showed the three Zoologico de Zacango officials around south Florida to see different primates.

Victor Bernal, 57 at the time, the director of zoos and parks for the interior State of Mexico, was the main target and was arrested in the sting. According to the agents, he was looking to pay $92,500 ($149,125 in 2014 dollars) for the animal. According to an Associated Press story on the incident, the Toluca zoo's gorilla had died and the powerful governor of the State of Mexico wanted a replacement quickly. Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Gelber told the AP that the agents posing as wildlife dealers were upfront about the illegality of the action.

"We agreed ...