Delivering Information

Timothy B. Clark

A reader defines our mission.

A note to warm our editors' hearts arrived recently from Cil Pleman, a subscriber in San Diego. "Month after month, I find useful and interesting articles in your publication that either help me directly at work, or keep me informed about what's going on around me," the subscriber wrote. Thanks, loyal reader, you've perfectly characterized what we try to do in these pages in every issue.

Having occasion to review our reporting in recent weeks, upon returning from abroad, I found it falling squarely into those two categories. On the cover this issue, we find an innovator in the business of measuring diversity and promoting equity in the workplace. That's something that affects everyone. Last issue, our cover stories addressed the qualities that define resilient workers and organizations. We also reported on the use of personality tests to shape work assignments, and examined the real story behind the market-lagging returns of the Thrift Savings Plan.

These sorts of stories address readers' interests and career aspirations, and can offer ideas for improving performance.

Believing that many readers feel a bit isolated in their corners of the federal bureaucracy, we also aim to meet our San Diego reader's second objective: providing information and context about developments and trends across government.

In this issue, Bob Brewin debunks the notion that the Pentagon's effort to control use of its bandwidth is stopping troops from communicating with the home front, Greg Grant examines the merits of Pentagon plans to increase the size of the Army and Marine Corps, Katherine McIntire Peters covers the State Department's staffing problems, and Robert Brodsky probes the problems that have arisen among the government's inspectors general.

Zack Phillips' June 15 report about the pressing need to emphasize personal and institutional resiliency over protection in homeland security planning casts a bright light on new thinking in the field. Similarly, Peters' story about the Pentagon's growing concern about energy supply showcased a pressing national security concern.

Our California reader didn't mention the Web, but this is the delivery vehicle of choice for many following the news we cover. With 400,000 visitors a month, reaches more people than the magazine-and it's become a meeting place for people interested in discussing what's happening. A recent Fedblog posting about the Government Accountability Office's pay brouhaha brought in 15 comments, for example. The versatility of the Web was put to good use when, in the wake of Adm. Michael G. Mullen's nomination as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, we brought together a special report on him, including video and a written transcript of our May 1 interview with him at the National Press Club, and stories we've written about his plans for the Navy both in print and online.

In a dashing display of electronic interactivity, I myself took exception to my colleague Brewin's blog entry suggesting that the Navy take down a Web effort to recruit chess players for an interservice tournament. "It would be a travesty to shut down a site devoted to the best game ever devised to test the player's strategic and tactical thinking in a military setting," I wrote-in the hope of generating more comment on the Web and perhaps even finding a new chess partner.

Tim Signature
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