Editor's Desk

The Change Game

FCW begins this week, before the inauguration of the new president, with a special report on the top agenda items from the outgoing administration that will carry over into the new one.

There’s an old saw in my profession that says change for the sake of change is a good thing, if only because it makes for a good story. Yet after 30 years in this business — the past 20 as a supervisor of reporters and their special kind — I can also tell you that the last thing any journalist wants to experience in his or her own job is (you guessed it) change.

Perhaps the same phenomenon occurs in government, especially among career officers who are both creatures of habit and idealists. No doubt many of you were as captivated by President elect Barack Obama’s improbable rise to power — and what it might mean for the way government operates — as were most of us in the media. It certainly qualifies as a good story. Now we’re all beginning to find out that it’s so much more than that.

Now it’s about our own jobs — and, more importantly, our respective roles in this new path that Obama has laid before the entire nation. Whether you were for or against him (and whether or not you remain so), the mandate is clear: Change — or get out of the way.

If only it were that easy. Anyone who’s been here a while knows better. The policies and priorities of the U.S. government can, by original charter, change dramatically every four to eight years. The new Obama administration will not hesitate to avail itself of that constitutional opportunity. The operational devil, you can rightly say, is in the details.

The staff of Federal Computer Week also knows this well. We take it as our mission to help you identify both the opportunities and the challenges of the changes to come. We begin this week, before the inauguration of the new president, with a special report on the top agenda items from the outgoing administration that will carry over into the new one.

Staff reporters Ben Bain, Doug Beizer, Alice Lipowicz, Mary Mosquera and Matthew Weigelt, under the expert direction of longtime FCW editors Michael Hardy and John Monroe, identify and analyze the key strategic issues that will necessarily occupy the minds of federal executives, policy-makers and program managers from here on out. As you will see from their reporting, not every path is a clear one — not yet, anyway. But the mandate is there: Change, or…

As you can probably tell, I’m new to this particular field of play, though not to the game itself. This is my first issue at the helm of Federal Computer Week, and I’ve been reading these stories with self-preservational interest. My background includes 22 years with another Washington publication, Congressional Quarterly, where the focus stayed mainly on Capitol Hill. Now I’m getting a whole new insight into this other branch of government. And I’m wondering when my head will stop spinning. But change is good. In any event, let’s keep telling ourselves that as we march forward into this uncharted world together.

About the Author

David Rapp is editor-in-chief of Federal Computer Week and VP of content for 1105 Government Information Group.


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