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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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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...

Singed by the Benghazi Dispute, This Ex-Fed Is Laying Low

When the House Select Committee on Benghazi releases its long-awaited “final report” this summer, one former State Department official may find himself again dragged into the public eye.

Raymond Maxwell, who in 2012 was director of regional affairs at State’s Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs, went down as a bit player in the politically radioactive saga of why four Americans died at the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya.

He was one of four State Department officials placed on administrative leave while the Hillary Clinton-appointed Accountability Review Board investigated what went wrong on Sept. 11, 2012. His case was taken up by conservative publications and Republicans in Congress after he reported that Clinton aides Cheryl Mills and Jake Sullivan checked in on a weekend session he attended at which Benghazi-related documents were being sorted. Maxwell said the purpose of the sorting was to cull any that might prove “embarrassing” to the secretary. His efforts to report concerns to higher-ups were ignored.

Maxwell then filed a complaint accusing Clinton aides of orchestrating his transfer out of a job after a classified version of the Review Board report recommended some staffing changes affecting officials who may have failed to thoroughly read...

Obama to ‘Selfless’ Feds: I Appreciate You, Even if No One Else Does

President Obama wants federal employees to know that even if no one else supports them, he does.

In a presidential proclamation formally establishing 2016’s Public Service Recognition Week, the nation’s top federal worker noted the sacrifice of his fellow government employees. He added their jobs are not made easier by the consistent scapegoating of civil servants.

“Even in the toughest of circumstances, including a politics that does not always fully recognize the value of their work, our public servants -- often at great personal sacrifice -- continue striving to build a better country and to bring lasting change to the lives of ordinary people across America,” Obama said. “These selfless individuals tackle great challenges facing our country.”

The president noted that 85 percent of the federal workforce is located outside of Washington, D.C., and that federal employees are experts on a range of subjects. 

“Civil servants demonstrate resolve and inspire optimism in sectors throughout our country,” he said. “They are engineers and educators, military service members and social workers, and their individual and collective contributions drive us forward on the path toward an ever brighter tomorrow.”

Absent from Obama’s message were any references -- included in last year’s...

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