EDITOR'S DESK: Meet the elite

Thomas R. Temin

This issue honors the elite of government career workers. The 12 profiled in this special issue have shown they can get things done. Important things that move the missions of their agencies and affect the lives of their constituents and fellow workers, done in an environment typically written off as impossibly bureaucratic.

If any theme emerges in what enables people to achieve at an elite level, it is two important qualities: character and enthusiasm. Character is an amalgam of emotional IQ, leadership and intellectual honesty. Enthusiasm is inner-generated drive coupled with genuine curiosity.

When you combine those two qualities with skill, you get elite people.

The federal government is privileged to have many such people toiling in its ranks. To select the dozen we feature, our judges had to choose from nearly 100 entries.
Another piece of evidence is the Presidential Rank Award, bestowed annually on no more than 1 percent of the Senior Executive Service.

I had the honor of attending a dinner honoring this year's class of Presidential Rank Award recipients. I don't mean that in the clich' sense: It really was an honor to be in the room with these people. (See the list of recipients at GCN.com, GCN.com/564.)
The dinner is staged by the Senior Executives Association in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the State Department, a gilded room the grandeur of which gives Versailles a run for its money.

More impressive are the recipients' accomplishments, many involving the application of IT. Some eliminate waste or consolidate investments, such as the portfolio management approach of Greg Parham, CIO of Agriculture's Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. Others break new ground, such as the work of Nobel Prize-winning William Phillips of the National Institute of Standards and Technology, whose ideas in physics could lead to a quantum computer.

As for the IT leaders profiled in this issue, we hope you enjoy reading about them as much as we did discovering them.

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