Professional and Personal

Timothy B. Clark Next month's Excellence in Government conference serves both needs.

One great tool the World Wide Web has given publishers is the means to assess, with fine precision, what their audiences really like. There is simply no arguing with click-through rates and page view counts.

We know that among visitors to our Web site, GovExec.com, the most popular topic is pay and benefits. And so our home page has long featured the "TSP Ticker," which charts the rise and fall of the mutual funds that comprise the federal Thrift Savings Plan.

The TSP has been a good deal for many of the 3.7 million federal workers who have used it to save for retirement. On average, they're saving close to 10 percent of salary, with the government matching up to 5 percent of their contribution. The TSP has doubled in value to $200 billion over the past four years. During the past year, the highest-performing stock funds have earned a 20 percent return.

If our Web traffic is any indication, Karen Rutzick's story about the TSP and its management problems this month will attract a lot of reader interest.

In the magazine, and on the Web site, we serve people's professional and work-related personal interests. This is true as well of the annual Excellence in Government conference that's about to convene early next month. If you come, you will hear from experts who know how to make programs and offices operate to best effect and how to measure and improve the performance of people and programs; recruit, train and retain top-notch talent; work with and manage contractor workforces; and foster innovation and creativity.

In EIG sessions on such topics, the learning, contacts and resources you'll gather are invaluable. But people come to conferences like EIG not just to learn about better business practices. They also look to enhance their personal prospects in life. They can "network," strengthening bonds with colleagues across government and creating new ones. They can back away for the moment from daily concerns to hear experts talk about the shifting political environments in Washington and the world beyond, in EIG sessions on "Politics, Policy and Today's Public Servant." They can refresh their own skills in sessions organized under the rubric of "Mid-Career Recharge."

And they can hear from thoughtful leaders on the modern scene: Comptroller General David M. Walker; Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani Jr., vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; and Frans Johansson, the best-selling author who writes about the intersection of ideas, cultures and disciplines that are creating tomorrow's world.

From its first days as a meeting place for Al Gore's "reinvention revolutionaries," the conference has been about making government work better and inspiring the people like you who can make that happen. EIG's organizers are at the heart of the good-government community. They include the Council for Excellence in Government, the National Academy of Public Administration and Government Executive itself. We all hope to see you this year, April 4 and 5, at the Washington Convention Center. To find out more, click here. Tim Signature

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