Editorial: Taking advantage of advantages

Government at its best can be challenging while giving its employees an evolving career.

The Rising Star Award winners featured in the pages of this week’s issue give us a glimpse of the next generation of government information technology leaders. They also serve as a reminder that if the government wants to implement its mission effectively and handle looming retirements, its workforce and management practices need to evolve.

There are some well-known disadvantages of government work, the most obvious being pay, particularly in IT fields. Those issues are not easy to address.

Government work is also challenging. It is often on a scale that is greater than anything in the private sector, and it receives more oversight.

But government work has some advantages, too. The most significant, of course, is its mission. People who choose government work do so because they have a genuine passion for public service. They have a strong desire to help others and this country. That is clearly illustrated in the profiles of the Rising Star Award winners and in Federal Computer Week’s annual best and worst IT agencies survey. The work of the 53 Rising Star Award winners demonstrates that individuals can make a difference.

Government work offers another advantage. Because of the government’s size and multifaceted mission, government workers can have an evolving career. The federal government provides a variety of opportunities, but often undermines that advantage.

The security clearance debacle is an example. A huge backup exists in the security clearance process, which the government must complete for many positions.

Yet even when someone gets a security clearance, they often cannot transfer from one agency to another without going through the process again.

If the government wants to be competitive, it needs to be a seamless workplace. Younger workers are more cognizant of the flattened world and are perplexed by the government’s byzantine rules, regulations and paperwork.

About the Author

Christopher J. Dorobek is the co-anchor of Federal News Radio’s afternoon drive program, The Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris, and the founder, publisher and editor of the DorobekInsider.com, a leading blog for the Federal IT community.

Dorobek joined Federal News Radio in 2008 with 16 years of experience covering government issues with an emphasis on government information technology. Prior to joining Federal News Radio, Dorobek was editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week, the leading news magazine for government IT decision-makers and the flagship of the 1105 Government Information Group portfolio of publications. As editor-in-chief, Dorobek served as a member of the senior leadership team at 1105 Government Information Group, providing daily editorial direction and management for FCW magazine, FCW.com, Government Health IT and its other editorial products.

Dorobek joined FCW in 2001 as a senior reporter and assumed increasing responsibilities, becoming managing editor and executive editor before being named editor-in-chief in 2006. Prior to joining FCW, Dorobek was a technology reporter at PlanetGov.com, one of the first online community centers for current and former government employees. He also spent five years at Government Computer News, another leading industry publication, covering a variety of federal IT-related issues.

Dorobek is a frequent speaker on issues involving the government IT industry, and has appeared as a frequent contributor to NewsChannel 8’s Federal News Today program. He began his career as a reporter at the Foster’s Daily Democrat, a daily newspaper in Dover, N.H. He is a graduate of the University of Southern California. He lives in Washington, DC.

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