The successes

Thomas R. Temin

For the past 15 years, Government Computer News has recognized agencies that do outstanding IT work'work resulting in improved service, processing efficiency and mission delivery. The coveted GCN Awards For Excellence in IT, which go yearly to 10 agencies selected from a field of more than 100 nominations, are given out at an annual gala in Washington.

This year, we've gone a step further by including detailed reports on the winning projects in this special double issue of GCN.

News about government often can be negative'there are several handy story lines. There's the mindless bureaucracy trampling people's rights. Or the wasteful bureaucracy throwing money away on goofy research or irrational projects. Sometimes it's the regulatory mind-set gone awry.

Those things happen, of course. But foolishness and waste occur in government in about the same proportion as in large corporations. What gets less publicity are the high-quality people and successful projects, or those whose principal irrationality is devotion to their work in public service.

The projects featured in this issue, in the special report that begins on Page 27, aren't stories of perfection. They are stories about people working hard toward worthwhile goals and giving the taxpayers pretty much what they paid for, and then some.

Our editors and reporters read General Accounting Office reports, listen to congressional testimony'often nicely rehearsed'and watch TV news with its cartoonlike renderings. The purpose of the GCN Awards and this accompanying issue isn't to pretend that everything is perfect but to show that everything isn't disastrous and that government regularly does fine, sometimes even inspired, work.

A final note: The Awards go to the group responsible for the work, and not to individuals.

Most of you probably won't attend our gala later this month, but our Nov. 10 issue and our Web site at will carry extensive coverage so you can see your colleagues being honored.


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