Developing leaders at home

U.S. Office of Personnel and Management

When it comes to technology, federal officials' goal is to improve operations, enhance the efficiency of employees and provide better public services. But leading that effort is not easy.

For the past four years, the nonpartisan Council for Excellence in Government has offered a nine-month e-government program to develop leaders who could help transform and improve government performance. It's an offshoot of the Excellence in Government Fellows program that began 15 years ago and has more than 1,800 alumni, or senior fellows.

The e-government program, which has 160 alumni, was created because council officials recognized that technology presents unique issues, said Judy Douglas, the council's vice president for leadership and performance.

Dealing with strategic issues such as technology investments or measuring their value can be challenging, Douglas said. "Are some of the technologies creating new challenges that confront citizen privacy?" she asked. "There are, of course, security issues associated with the implementation of technology."

Both programs are open to senior federal managers at the GS-14 and GS-15 levels, although exceptional individuals at the GS-13 grade are sometimes accepted. Participants meet for 21 days during a nine-month period, and tuition is $9,400.

Col. Jill Phillips of the Walter Reed Army Medical Center, who graduated from the e-government program last year, said technology has spurred cross-collaboration among agencies. It's also an opportunity to learn from others within the public sector.

"That was part of the reason that I joined [the program] — because you could take some of your skills and potentially add skills because of the cross-section of fellows who were available to learn from and apply it," said Phillips, program director for HealtheForces, which deals with electronic health records primarily for the Army and Air Force.

Participants form small groups and choose a challenging hands-on project. Phillips' group, which included colleagues from six other federal agencies, helped the Child and Family Services Agency in Washington, D.C., improve adoption services for foster children by using the Web, geographic information systems, databases and other technologies.

Rand Ruggieri, who was working at the Agriculture Department when he graduated from the e-government program last year, said it forced him to be more introspective, rethink what he had already learned, put things into perspective, "recharge batteries and refocus on service and leadership."

During the program, Ruggieri's group helped Minneapolis officials reduce the time it took city officials to respond after children were tested for lead exposure.

"I think that's part of leadership," he said. "If you can't demonstrate that you care about it, do you really think they're going to follow you?"

The 2015 Federal 100

Meet 100 women and men who are doing great things in federal IT.


  • Shutterstock image (by venimo): e-learning concept image, digital content and online webinar icons.

    Can MOOCs make the grade for federal training?

    Massive open online courses can offer specialized IT instruction on a flexible schedule and on the cheap. That may not always mesh with government's preference for structure and certification, however.

  • Shutterstock image (by edel): graduation cap and diploma.

    Cybersecurity: 6 schools with the right stuff

    The federal government craves more cybersecurity professionals. These six schools are helping meet that demand.

  • Rick Holgate

    Holgate to depart ATF

    Former ACT president will take a job with Gartner, follow his spouse to Vienna, Austria.

  • Are VA techies slacking off on Yammer?

    A new IG report cites security and productivity concerns associated with employees' use of the popular online collaboration tool.

  • Shutterstock image: digital fingerprint, cyber crime.

    Exclusive: The OPM breach details you haven't seen

    An official timeline of the Office of Personnel Management breach obtained by FCW pinpoints the hackers’ calibrated extraction of data, and the government's step-by-step response.

  • Stephen Warren

    Deputy CIO Warren exits VA

    The onetime acting CIO at Veterans Affairs will be taking over CIO duties at the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency.

  • Shutterstock image: monitoring factors of healthcare.

    DOD awards massive health records contract

    Leidos, Accenture and Cerner pull off an unexpected win of the multi-billion-dollar Defense Healthcare Management System Modernization contract, beating out the presumptive health-records leader.

  • Sweating the OPM data breach -- Illustration by Dragutin Cvijanovic

    Sweating the stolen data

    Millions of background-check records were compromised, OPM now says. Here's the jaw-dropping range of personal data that was exposed.

  • FCW magazine

    Let's talk about Alliant 2

    The General Services Administration is going to great lengths to gather feedback on its IT services GWAC. Will it make for a better acquisition vehicle?

Reader comments

Please post your comments here. Comments are moderated, so they may not appear immediately after submitting. We will not post comments that we consider abusive or off-topic.

Please type the letters/numbers you see above