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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.

How the Top Spy Escaped Jury Duty

Jury duty, though mandatory and democratic, can disrupt many citizens’ important work.

On Thursday evening, the point was made by James Clapper, director of the Office of National Intelligence, who was keynote speaker at the Presidential Distinguished Rank Awards banquet put on by the Senior Executives Association.

Six months ago, Clapper received a jury summons from Fairfax County. He asked his executive assistant, Stephanie, to get him out of it. “She called the county clerk and explained about ODNI’s 17 intelligence agencies, its $50 billion budget and all the pressures,” Clapper said. “But the lady was having none of it.”

The clerk did, however, notice Clapper’s age—now 75--and mentioned a special exemption for people over 70. So it was determined, the spymaster said: “We’ll take the geezer exemption.”

In more serious comments, Clapper commended the 43 executives in the State Department’s Benjamin Franklin Diplomatic Reception room who were honored for saving the government a total of $121 billion. He gave a capsule history of the SEA and its formation in 1980 to push for higher pay—noting “how tough it is” to get a spending-conscious White House to join the effort. And he expressed relief...

Doctor Who Helped Expose Lead in Flint’s Water Praises EPA Whistleblower

On the same day prosecutors in Michigan announced criminal indictments of three state and local officials for their role in the contamination of the Flint, Mich., water supply, a whistleblower who brought the case to light was awarded the annual Ridenhour Prize for Truth Telling.

Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, a pediatrician at Hurley Children’s Hospital and an assistant professor of medicine at Michigan State University, received the award at a National Press Club luncheon, acknowledging the whistleblowing role played by a staffer at the Environmental Protection Agency’s Chicago regional office, Miguel del Torral.

Hanna-Attisha, having heard alarms sounded about Flint by Virginia Tech civil engineering professor Marc Edwards, tried to trace government blood tests of Flint residents but ran into obstacles. So she assembled a team to analyze the data and published results in a medical journal, which prompted the state to “dismiss and ridicule” her.

Wednesday’s indictments, she said, are of people “whose job it was to make sure that when you turn on the tap the water is safe.” Flint is now in its third year of unsafe water, she added. “When democracy is usurped,” she said, referring to the state-imposed emergency manager who switched Flint...

It’s More Than a Conference, It’s a Fedstival!

For many years, Government Executive and our sister publication, Nextgov (focusing on technology and the future of government), have entertained and educated thousands of federal managers and executives at everything from daylong events to after-work meetups. Now we’ve decided to think even bigger: We’re joining forces to create a multi-day series of interactive sessions aimed at exploring what’s next for government.

We’re calling it Fedstival: The Federal Innovation Festival. And it’s not your average federal management or technology conference.

Fedstival will unfold over the week of Oct. 3-7 in various locations in and around Washington, D.C.  Sessions will examine the innovations and ideas shaping the federal government at a time of great change. It will all take place in the form of conversations, debates, workshops, panels, interviews, networking and behind-the-scenes tours of federal operations.

The overall Fedstival theme is What’s Next, focusing especially on the areas of information technology, the workforce and the next presidential administration. The idea is to convene a gathering of the people who will ultimately be responsible for shaping the government of tomorrow and provide them the inspiration and information to equip themselves for the task.

Our events and...

Test Yourself: How Much Does Government Really Cost?

Even for people who work for Uncle Sam, it can be hard to get a handle on the $4 trillion federal budget.

Just in time for Tax Day, our colleagues at The Atlantic have devised a game to test Americans’ knowledge of where their tax dollars actually go. It involves making rapid-fire judgments about which federal agencies have bigger budgets. It’s addictive, and harder than you might think.

The quiz is fleshed out with monetary facts that put agencies’ budgets in perspective relative to a family’s typical spending. (The Veterans Affairs Department, for example costs each American $499.27, or roughly the price of an iPad Air.)

Are you ready to test your spending knowledge? Follow the link below to play the game:

Where Do U.S. Taxes Actually Go?

Photo: Flickr user frankieleon

A Perk For Feds: Cheaper Seats at the Old Ball Game

Enjoying a major league baseball game can be an expensive proposition these days. But the Washington Nationals are making it more affordable for federal employees. They’re offering a discount of up to 30 percent to feds on tickets to all of their home games this year.

The discount also applies to active-duty, reserve, veteran, and retired military personnel; first responders; government employees at other levels and public school teachers.

The offer also includes $10 worth of food, beverage or merchandise at Nationals Park.

In order to qualify for the perk, eligible individuals must register with GovX, an e-commerce network for military service members and government employees.

Click here for more information.

Photo: Flickr user David

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