Summertime Blues

A few choice words about a season of off-center events.

There's something just a little off about the summer of 2007. As far as the government's concerned, it's been defined by a series of off-center events, ranging from the tragic to the simply strange. The story is perhaps best told in the form of quotations from and about some of the players involved:

"This computer, although assigned to me, was being used on board the International Space Station. I was informed that it was tossed overboard to be burned up in the atmosphere when it failed."

That's the explanation given by a NASA employee for a missing $4,265 laptop, according to a Government Accountability Office report.

Just a day after that report was released, an independent panel reported on heavy drinking by NASA crew members before flights. On at least two occasions, the panel found, astronauts were allowed to fly even though they were intoxicated. Maybe there's some correlation here.

"As much as we would like to think otherwise, I am afraid that with the number of soldiers we now have in harm's way, our losses will preclude us from continuing to do individual memorial ceremonies."

This quote actually dates back to a May e-mail message from Brig. Gen. William Troy, former interim commander at Fort Lewis, Wash., announcing that the base would shift from holding separate memorial services for each soldier killed in action after deploying from the base to combined services once a month. After an outcry from families and veterans, Troy's successor, Lt. Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., decided to stick with the policy of individual services.

"I did not have an 'accident' while working. I was subjected to an offensive attack by an enemy of the U.S. government who attempted to kill me. Why am I under workers' comp if workers' comp does not recognize a combat injury?"

Imagine you're a civilian Army employee working in Iraq, riding alongside service members in your Humvee when it's hit by a roadside bomb. You receive initial treatment for your severe injuries, but then you're turned away from military hospitals for ongoing treatment.

Instead, you're told to work through the Labor Department's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs, where you find out that your war wounds don't really match any of its bureaucratic workplace injury codes. You then embark on an odyssey of trying to find doctors in the civilian health care system with experience treating your injuries. That's what happened to Mike Helms, a counterintelligence expert with the Army's 902nd Military Intelligence Group, who used the above words in describing his plight to The Washington Post.

"There are substantially more people employed as musicians in Defense bands than in the entire foreign service."

That's David J. Kilcullen's attempt to put U.S. military and diplomatic efforts overseas into perspective. Kilcullen is a former Australian Army lieutenant colonel who is now a senior counterinsurgency adviser to Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq.

"We've spent a lot of time trying to straighten this out. It would be nice if they would take care of it. They're not above the law-they have to pay their tickets like everybody else.''

That's Albert Moroni, parking commissioner for the city of White Plains, N.Y. And the "they" he's referring to is the Marine Corps-specifically, Marine recruiters who have racked up more than $90,000 in unpaid parking tickets dating back to 2001.

That led Moroni to impound one of the recruiters' cars and threaten to sell it at auction if the service didn't pay its fines.

Which in turn led the General Services Administration to tell Moroni that if he, as a local government official, followed through on his threat to sell off a vehicle in the federal fleet, he could probably expect to receive a visit from the FBI.

"I see '.gov' and '.edu' all the time."

That's Jim McBride, "chief executive officer" of, a Web site that provides a guide to female nudity in Hollywood films, talking about where the site's traffic comes from. Perhaps the less said about that, the better.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.