Editorial: A call for nominations

Federal Computer Week begins accepting nominations for the 2009 Federal 100 awards program this week. The deadline is Dec. 12. The nomination form is available online. But don’t hit that submit button just yet.

The Federal 100 program recognizes individuals in government and industry who have played pivotal roles in the federal information technology community. Each year, on a Saturday in January, judges from government and industry sort through the nomination and make their picks. There is no foolproof way to write a winning nomination. But here are a few pointers to consider.

  • Focus on the individual. The Federal 100 program recognizes individuals — not groups or projects. The judges rarely give awards to two individuals for the same work, unless each person made a unique contribution.

  • Do not nominate people for simply doing their jobs. The judges look for evidence that the nominees went above and beyond their daily responsibilities or that they brought unique vision or talents to important tasks. For example, it is not enough to have managed a successful program or, in the case of industry, to win a contract. Explain how the nominee brought about that outcome.

  • Focus on the effect. Explain how a nominee’s work made a significant difference, either in the organization or the community at large. Describe that effect in concrete terms that can be understood by people unfamiliar with the person or his or her expertise.

  • Focus on 2008. The Federal 100 is not a lifetime achievement award. Obviously, important work rarely fits tidily in a calendar year. But the 2009 awards program should recognize work largely done, or culminating, in 2008.

  • Remember, this is not a popularity contest. The key is impact. An individual’s effect might be significant but negative or at least divisive. That is not necessarily an obstacle to winning a Federal 100 award.

And finally:

  • Look for the unsung heroes. Some people are in a better position than others to make a difference because they have significant policy, budget or programmatic authority. But keep an eye out for the individuals behind the scenes who make a difference largely because of their creativity, energy and sheer tenacity. 


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