The 99 Percent

In late June, President Obama felt compelled to stick up for federal employees, albeit in a somewhat odd way.

“Are there some federal workers who do some boneheaded things? Absolutely,” Obama said at a town hall meeting in Minneapolis. The president recalled something that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates told him: “One thing you should know, Mr. President, is that at any given moment on any given day, somebody in the federal government is screwing up.” That, said Obama, “is true, because there are 2 million employees . . .
If 99 percent of the folks are doing the right thing and only 1 percent aren’t, that’s still a lot of people.”

Lately, it seems, there’s been a lot of focus on that 1 percent. Now more than ever, when federal agencies find themselves in the spotlight, it’s for all the wrong reasons—whether it’s at the
Veterans Affairs Department, the Internal Revenue Service or Health and Human Services.

Meanwhile the 99 percent toil in obscurity—sometimes deliberately so. For example, at the Central Intelligence Agency, officials have spent several years crafting a behind-the-scenes plan that could dramatically change not only the intelligence world, but the way lots of other large agencies approach how they purchase and use information technology. In this issue’s cover story, Frank Konkel reports on the CIA’s massive deal with Amazon Web Services to shift much of its information technology infrastructure to the cloud.

The contract not only opens up a whole new world of on-demand computing, it holds out the promise of transforming the way the intelligence community shares information. And if the holders of government’s most sensitive information can find a way to move data to the cloud securely, other agencies will doubtless feel pressure to speed up their shift to cloud computing.

In the other feature story in this issue, Patrick Tucker explores how the Internet of Things—with a host of new devices gathering and sharing unprecedented amounts of information online—is fundamentally changing the relationship between government and its citizens. That’s especially true at the state and local levels, where public officials closely interact with citizens on an ongoing basis.

You’ll be seeing more stories like that from Government Executive starting this summer. That’s because we’re launching a new State and Local channel on Throughout the 45 years we’ve been writing about the business of government, the question we probably have been asked more than any other is, “Do you cover state and local government?” Finally, the answer is, “Yes.”

GovExec State and Local will focus on news, information and analysis about innovation at the state, county and local levels. It aims to facilitate the sharing of best practices and new ideas among decision-makers who are creating highly effective government programs, policies and institutions for the 21st century. Our areas of coverage will include information technology, health care, citizen services,
infrastructure, transportation, finance and security.

We’ve got a talented editor heading up the initiative in Michael Grass. He was a founding co-editor of, served as deputy managing editor of the New York Observer’s ambitious site (editing posts filed by reporters in 17 states), and managed local news coverage in D.C., Maryland and Virginia for
The Huffington Post. He’s building a team of correspondents to provide
coverage across the country.

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 G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • 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 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.


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