Centurions of public service

It’s been 20 years since Federal Computer Week initiated what is now the signature awards program in the federal information technology community. And to be sure, to be chosen to join this august body of government and industry leaders remains the ultimate confirmation of professional accomplishment, stature and peer acclaim.

Yet in reading each profile of the 100 individuals whose work in 2008 earned them this signal recognition, you can’t help be struck by a common behavioral thread: These award winners don’t appear to have done what they did, or to have gone to such lengths of effort, perseverance and persuasion as they clearly mustered, for this particular accolade — or any accolade, for that matter.

The trait that really sets these remarkable men and women apart is their sense of duty to the public they serve. They have each found a way to use the jobs they held in 2008, whether in upper management or middle management, in government work or the private sector, to advance the larger missions of their agencies, programs, contracts or communities. Whether working against great odds, organizational resistance or just plain inertia, they kept moving forward without looking back for commendation. And it doesn’t appear, to this admiring reader at least, that any of them asked for any special attention for their good work.

So it’s our job — yours and mine — to stop the world for a moment, as we now always do this time of year, and offer our gratitude for such selfless commitments to excellence. This year’s honorees, nominated by Federal Computer Week’s readers and chosen by an independent panel of judges, “have acted as agents for change in the way agencies and companies develop, acquire and manage information technology. ... In many cases, the results of their efforts will be lasting.”

That quote comes from the first Federal 100 Awards issue in March 1990, and then-editor Edith Holmes’ words ring as true today as they did then. The 75 agency officials (federal, state and local) and 25 company executives who make up this year’s cadre form a new centurion circle, and they take their place in line with the 1,900 others who preceded them. All share that sense of duty — and, dare we say it, loyalty to a great national cause.

We bow to them, one and all.

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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