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By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Today's Fed 100 reflects changed market

I've been to a lot of Fed 100 galas over the years and they are always a good time. Produced by our sister publication FCW, the event is a great vehicle for recognizing what’s good in the market as it honors 100 people who have delivered extraordinary value to their agency and customers.

But I’ve noticed a turn in the event the last two years that I think reflects something positive in the market.

While always a celebration, the gala often reflects aspects of the mood of the market and during the sequestration years, the mood was more subdued. It was as if at times folks were afraid to have fun.

But the 2016 Fed100 was decidedly upbeat and the 2017 event on Thursday night followed suit. So that’s a two-year trend of increased happiness.

This has nothing to do with a change in administration but more the organic cycle of the market.

And you could hear it in the remarks by the President and Eagle winners and even the presenters.

I’m not sugar coating the challenges in the market. On the civilian side especially some tough budget years lie ahead. But over the last two years, people seem more positive. The sequestration clouds have cleared. There is greater adoption of new technologies and next generation IT. I think there are other reasons as well.

That’s my observation anyway.

But I think if you listened to the remarks you saw an unmistakable pride from both sides of the market.

David Moskowitz, the leader of Eagle Award for industry, talked about how deeply he believes in the value and power of public service.

“Great outcomes don’t just happen,” he said. “It takes leadership, optimism and persistence.”

He described the industry as one to be proud of. “What you do matters,” he said. “It makes the country stronger, communities safer and people’s lives better.”

Because of technology and innovation, there are more opportunities to create value by bringing speed and scale. “Together we will define the next generation of service, security and efficiency,” he said. “Ambitious? You bet. Possible? Absolutely.”

IT folks, I think, by nature are optimists and Moskowitz really embodied that in accepting his award.

He also struck of theme of partnership and collaboration that was echoed by the government winners.

I was especially struck by the comments by Lesley Field, who is the deputy administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy and has been the acting administrator four times in the last nine years, including right now.

She was honored with a President’s Award for her 26 years in public service and she doesn’t appear to be backing away at all.

“I believe in the transformative nature of good government,” she said. “While we can, and should, debate what good government looks like, I think we can all agree that this community has the unique opportunity to help people live their best possible lives.”

She ticked off several examples:

  • Making the student aid system easier to help a first generation college student pursue her dreams.
  • Improving access to veteran health records to increase preventative care.
  • Collecting and sharing data such as traffic safety statistics, Earth science and spending trends.
  • Promoting opportunities for small business.

She gave high praise to her fellow civil servants. “In times of peace and through conflict, in support of political transitions and through changes in priorities, we stand on the pillars of fairness, transparency, and stewardship and do our jobs the best we can,” she said.

Pretty inspiring stuff.

The final award of the night went to Dave Powner, director of IT management issues for GAO, who was named the Eagle winner for government.

“The oversight role GAO plays is only effective if there are willing partners” he said. “We need to continue to work together … across branches of government, across party lines, to deliver modern and secure technology to better serve the American people.”

As a citizen it was easy to walk away from last night’s event and feel reassured about the quality and dedication of those working in and for the government.

As a journalist, I know these are the folks to watch. Whatever lays ahead, these will be the folks leading the way.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Mar 31, 2017 at 11:49 AM

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