20 Years on the Beat

Timothy B. Clark

And now, a new steward of Government Executive's mission.

In recent years, radio frequency identification has been the hot technology-holding the promise of precise tracking of complex military shipments, the exit and entry of foreign visitors, and much more. But, as Jill R. Aitoro reports this month, RFID hasn't lived up to the hype.

Technology always has been a central feature of our coverage of government, and so has the key topic of prospects for the federal workforce. This month, Brittany Ballenstedt offers a detailed look at the most important personnel change under way in government-the Defense Department's National Security Personnel System.

Contracting, ever more essential to agencies, is the focus of three stories this month.

Elizabeth Newell writes about how the Army needs to prepare for the next contractor-supported war. Greg Grant offers a concise primer on the dangers of rapid-fire acquisition decisions with his cautionary tale about the overweight mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle. And Robert Brodsky explores the great difficulties the legions of U.S. contractors in Iraq will face if that country's government decides to repeal its Order 17, which has protected Americans from prosecution in Iraqi courts.

Such topics as technology, contracting and national security have remained important across the past 20 years, even as leaders have come and gone. In the May 1987 issue of Government Executive, the first I edited, we dealt with the eroding incomes and morale of the Senior Executive Service, NASA's space station project, the problems of managing veterans' care, and GSA's FTS 2000 program, predecessor to today's Networx telecommunications contract. The following issue examined the "brain drain" among senior officials, political bias in intelligence estimates, immigration enforcement and efforts to change the culture of acquisition.

As we've covered such important issues across these two decades, I've been privileged to work with a very talented colleague, Tom Shoop, and now I am delighted to report that he is stepping into my shoes as editor of Government Executive. He joined us 18 years ago as a young reporter on our then-tiny staff, and from that point forward developed a deep understanding of our readers and their interests. He has played a key role in making Government Executive the force it has become in government, a source of clear, honest information, best practices and simple communication from one end of our far-flung federal establishment to the other.

As Tom takes over, I will stay on to help, especially with Government Executive's role as a convener of leaders in our breakfast series, Excellence in Government conferences and in e-learning webinars we are organizing as another means of informing our audience. Two of these are coming up, the first regarding the federal technology outlook on Jan. 17 and the second on the NSPS on Jan. 24. I hope to see you then.

Tim Signature

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