How to write a winning Fed 100 nomination
Every year, FCW's Federal 100 Awards call attention to those in government and industry whose important work too often goes unnoticed by the outside world. Appropriately, the vast majority of winners are government executives and workers who have had a major impact on their agency’s goals. But these awards also highlight the exemplary work done by industry leaders who go “above and beyond” to serve their government agency clients and the federal IT community at large.
With hundreds of nominations submitted each year, the awards are very competitive – especially for industry nominees who comprise a smaller portion of the winners. Sometimes, even deserving nominees may find themselves ruled out – especially if the nominations submitted on their behalf fail to adequately convey their achievements and the significance of the impact of their work.
As a former Fed 100 Award Eagle winner, as well as someone who has served as a Federal 100 judge on multiple occasions, I would like to offer my industry colleagues a few tips on developing successful nominations.
For nominees from industry, the judges are looking mainly for achievements that go beyond the nominee’s job description and what they are typically expected to do in their roles. The winners are those who perform well at their jobs, of course -- but more importantly, who have achieved significant outcomes for their client agencies and had a positive impact on the broader government community.
Consequently, nominations should describe the impact of the nominee’s work based on quantifiable metrics. Cite metrics that quantify the benefits resulting from the nominee’s work. If possible, use dollar figures to illustrate how much taxpayers saved due to a project led by the nominee, or quantify the benefits to citizens who can now get government services faster or better.
If you don’t have specific metrics to cite, discuss the nominee’s achievements in terms of broad-based impacts on government work or policy. But try to be as specific as possible.
Regarding the broader impact beyond nominees’ own projects or portfolios, those contributions should be articulated succinctly to convey the compelling value they provided – whether it is work for an industry organization, a charitable cause or a shared services provider agency. Remember, though, plenty of people are involved in industry or charitable organizations, so these activities are not necessarily impressive by themselves. Be diligent in citing the specific impact of this work, whether it is a proof point for a new and emerging trend that others can leverage or something that helped advance a major legislation or a new directive. Such points can spell the difference between a winning one and a simply adequate nomination.
Nominations also should reflect the passion and leadership the nominee brings to his or her role. Highlight points that illustrate creativity, innovation, collaboration and mentoring. Also, be conscious not to sound like an advertisement for the nominee's company or its offerings.
Also, recruit supporting nominators who have credibility and a direct connection to the nominee’s contributions. Many nominators don't fully appreciate how important the slate of individuals vouching for a nominee can be, and fail to make the strongest case. Nominators may come from the same firm as the nominee, but a greater impact can be achieved with supporting nominators representing the nominee’s government agency clients or someone from outside their company.
And don’t simply plug in the nominators’ names and contact information. Get quotes from them, and use them verbatim throughout your nomination form to reinforce the nominee’s accomplishments and to demonstrate nominators’ knowledge of the nominee’s work.
Last but definitely not least, do not wait until the last minute to get started! Successful nominations require time and effort. Get input from multiple sources, and review and refine your submission often. Give yourself sufficient time to develop the best nomination possible.
The list of past Federal 100 Award winners represents a veritable Who’s Who in federal government IT. These awards recognize people who have literally changed the way government operates in countless positive ways. It is no small achievement to be added to this list, and it all starts with a strong nomination. Good luck!