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:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


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