E-gov fellowship open for applications

The Council for Excellence in Government is currently accepting applications for its yearlong Excellence in Government Fellows and e-Government Fellows programs, which are designed to help career federal civil servants develop their leadership skills.

Nearly 2,000 individuals have gone through both programs since their inceptions. The main Government Fellows program started about 15 years ago, while the e-government version began four years ago with the help of the National Science Foundation.

"There was a recognition that the challenges of [e-government] were really going to test the mettle of leaders," said Judy Douglas, the council's vice president for leadership and performance. "There were some leadership skills that were required of folks who have been tasked with implementing e-government and technology in government that really needed to be supported and tended to." Both programs have common core competencies in leadership development. Although the main fellows program deals with technology and how that is spurring agency cross-collaboration, the e-government program goes more in depth and with more specificity.

"Where it gets to be more challenging are in dealing with strategic issues, like investment in technology or is the government getting an appropriate return [or] are some of the technologies creating new challenges that confront citizen privacy," Douglas said. "There are, of course, security issues associated with implementation of technology."

The programs are open to federal employees at the GS-14 and GS-15 levels who are looking to take on executive positions. The council has a review process, but most agencies have their own to evaluate and identify those likely to go through the program, she said. Some individuals at the GS-13 level are also admitted after a more stringent screening process.

Fellows form groups of 22 to 25 and are assigned a professional coach throughout the year. They meet about three days at a time during seven sessions. Fellows also form smaller groups of between five to seven to work on a results-oriented project during the year. "It's really an ability to synthesize all of the learning that they're doing and gain a concrete result as part of the process," Douglas said.

For example, one such group in the e-government program is working on creating a virtual governmentwide community. Participants are using portal software and created governance models to self-regulate the portal and communication among fellows and senior fellows, who are program graduates.

"So that there could be an electronic place that all of them could communicate, share information, share practices and skills no matter where the fellows are," Douglas said. "We have fellows all over the globe and, frankly, being across town in Washington [D.C.] can be a bit of a barrier. So, they've undertaken that as a way to sustain the idea of cross-boundary community amongst the fellows."

Tuition is $9,400 for the year. The council does not try to turn qualified applicants away, but Douglas said resources are limited. The deadline for the 2004-2005 programs is June 18, but she characterized that as a rolling admission.

For more information, visit the council's program Web site at www.excelgov.org/displayContent.asp?Keyword=prleiApplication.

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