Tom Temin | Dear readers
Being part of GCN also provided a behind-the-scenes view of government. ... I've felt blessed by being able to know so many talented and selfless people in government...' Thomas R. Temin
This is my last column as editor in chief of GCN, a job I've held for 15 years.
Actually, by the time you read it I will have departed this perch because GCN's owner, the Washington Post Co., sold GCN
and its sister properties at the end of 2006, and'well, you know what happens in mergers and acquisitions.
That's business. I leave on good terms and with every expectation that under different stewardship GCN will continue to prosper and excel.
When I arrived here on Nov. 1, 1991, I knew little about public procurement, government programs or the complex of contractors that live off'or support, depending on your point of view'the government.
But the community of people in this business is wonderfully accepting of newcomers. People are willing to share what they know. They are mostly passionate about their work. I quickly became a member of the community.
That made this post as much a calling as a job. Many of you have welcomed me to your conferences and gatherings as a guest or speaker over the years. Thank you.
It has felt at times like half my identity has been tied up with this publication. Because a good portion of GCN's market is concentrated in the Washington area, people in my social circle know GCN.
One of my daughter's first words was 'GCN.' Our house is littered with T-shirts, blankets, hats, pens and other bric-a-brac bearing GCN and so many other IT industry logos. I would notice people reading it on the Washington Metro subway system.
But being part of GCN also provided a behind-the-scenes view of government. The phrase 'dedicated public servant' might sound hackneyed. But I've felt blessed by being able to know so many talented and selfless people in government, most of them unknown to the general public. As a country, we need to be more respectful of public service.
One thing I've learned is that the bureaucratic problems that plague government differ from those in the private sector only in scale.
Failed projects, wasted money and effort, dunderheads getting promoted, whistle-blowers getting squashed ' it all happens in corporations too. In recent years, corporate goofs have been as public as the government's. They are part of humanity, regrettably, but certainly not unique to the public sector.
I also learned that when things go well, government can accomplish not merely effectiveness but also a certain grandeur.
As 9/11 occurred, I was seated on a westbound airliner. I remember the Federal Aviation Administration managing the safe landing of 5,000 planes within an hour.
The telemedicine work in the Defense Department that enables top-notch clinical diagnoses to reach faraway places comes to mind. As does NASA's Web presentation of the early robot probes on Mars'that alone sold many computers and Internet connections. Even the fact that tax refund, Social Security and veterans' benefits checks get out with clockwork regularity is amazing.
Yes, there are many untold stories. There will be more projects, sublime and dreadful, to chronicle. But it is always the people I will remember'for government is ultimately a human endeavor. Imperfect as our government is, name one country you'd trade it with.
Goodbye and God bless. Whatever happens, I'll still be eagerly watching. And that's a -30-.
Thomas R. Temin, Editor in chief
E-mail: [email protected]