Editorial: Celebrating youth

FCW is seeking nominations for Rising Stars, a new awards program for up-and-coming younger workers in the government information technology community.

Awards are important. They provide much-needed recognition of people who go above and beyond the call of duty. So when the AFCEA International Bethesda, Md., chapter’s Young AFCEANS came to us late last year with the idea of honoring younger workers, we were immediately intrigued. In fact, we were exhilarated by the idea.

Despite the large number of awards programs, as far as we can tell, none of them specifically honors up-and-coming people in the government information technology community. We have decided to call these people the Rising Stars.

One of government IT executives’ top concerns is the looming workforce crisis as large numbers of federal employees near retirement age. That crisis has highlighted the need for succession planning. We hope the Rising Stars awards can help encourage that type of planning by recognizing people who are already doing good work and creating a place where such work can be recognized and encouraged.

We decided to model the Rising Stars on the Federal 100 awards program. The new awards will honor those in the government IT community who make a difference but may not yet have done work that rises to the level of the Federal 100 awards because they are still in the early stages of their careers.

By its nature, the criteria for the Rising Stars program must be more nuanced, but the essential guideline remains the same: The program seeks to recognize individuals who have made a difference in the previous year — in this case, from June 2005 through June 2006. The difference is that we are looking for people who are in the first third of their careers.

We have left that definition intentionally vague because, to be honest, we don’t know what to expect. We decided not to set an age limit because that seems unnecessarily arbitrary. Clearly, somebody who has worked for the federal government for 25 years would not qualify, but some determinations will be left to our judges, who, like those for the Federal 100 awards, will be respected members of the IT community.

We hope the program will be a way to recognize workers who might otherwise go unnoticed and serve as an example to young people of the important work that governments do.

So let the nominating begin. The nomination form is available online at www.fcw.com/risingstar.

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