FCW’s Fed 100 Awards: Recognizing the good work done by people… nominations open for the annual award program
It is the season for the Federal Computer Week’s Federal 100 awards program — now in its 20th year, it is one of the preeminent government awards programs recognizing people from the past year who have made a difference. [Nominate somebody online at fcw.com/fed100.
The Fed 100 awards were one of my favorite parts of being editor of Federal Computer Week. The program is remarkable. It also taps into my definition of Web 2.0 — all of us are smarter then each of us individually — because the nominations come from all of us. Each year, Federal Computer Week puts opens up the nominations and we/they get literally hundreds of them. Many of them are remarkable. Some of them — well, not so much.
On Friday, I had John Monroe, the acting editor of Federal Computer Week, on the Federal News Radio’s Daily Debrief with Chris Dorobek and Amy Morris to talk about the awards and how it work. You can hear that interview here.
The program is remarkable because, in the end, decisions aren’t made by the editors of Federal Computer Week. They are made by a team of judges — generally one of the most important things I did all year — selecting the right judging panel. This year, they have a pretty remarkable group.
As I said on the radio, I am going to make some nominations… many of the examples, you will have read here or heard on the radio. That being said, I think those people deserve recognition. Many of my nominations are for people who have done things that seems so easy, but, as we well know, often simple things can be very complex. Among my nominations:
- Robert Carey, the CIO of the Department of the Navy. Yes, Carey won a 2008 Fed 100 award, but that was more for his activities in 2007 in Iraq. In the past 12 months, he has just kept on innovating. In the past year, Carey became the first CIO to host a public blog. That blog now gets thousands of visitors each month. It is an innovative way of reaching out to his own team, his own service… and to the American public. But Carey didn’t only blog. He is also the first CIO to come up with a Web 2.0 policy — and it is a good one too. More of that in the post itself.
- Jeremy Ames is with EPA’s Indoor Environments Division, who came up with the fantastic Web 2.0 idea of having people create videos about radon for EPA. It was a fantastic idea — simple, yet so powerful.
- NAPA’s Frank DiGiamarino for the creation of NAPA’s Collaboration Project.
- NAPA’s Lena Trudeau for the National Dialogue on health IT and privacy.
- Washington, DC CTO Vivek Kundra for… well, just selecting a few things will be difficult, but… I think I’ll point to his efforts with Apps For Democracy.
- EPA’s Molly O’Neill and Mary McCaffery… again, there are so many things, selecting one will be difficult, but… EPA’s National Dialogue. (I’d love to give one to EPA’s Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock, who has created a marvelous environment at EPA that allows all this wonderful innovation to take place.)
There are others. I’m in the search for the person on Team Obama who helped the campaign use technology so effectively. (This has spurred a whole debate on Twitter — some arguing that the Obama campaign did the same things that the McCain campaign did except they won. Another fed argued that Fed 100 should be reserved for “an actual fed… who has to work w/in existing rules & be successful. Wait til he’s in office.” My responses: First, there are 100 people, so there are plenty of nominations to go around for good work. But I always define Fed 100 as 100 people who go above and beyond to make a difference, and I think Team Obama so integrated technology into the way one runs for president — and I think that is bound to make a difference on how they government. It is such a building block that to ignore it would make the list look… out of place. But… comments welcome. In the end, the Fed 100 judges will decide what is deserving.
Some of my recommendations on writing up Fed 100 awards… after the break…
So, when I was at Federal Computer Week, I was always asked for advice on what makes a Fed 100 nomination sing. Remember that the judges have literally hundreds of these nominations, so this is an art.
The most difficult thing is that it is a different panel of judges each year and different people look at things in different ways. So what I offer here are some of my general takes on what I have seen over the years.
- It’s all about making a difference… In the nominations write-ups, say what the person did, say it clearly, and say it as soon as you can.
- Be clear and concise… FCW puts word limits on each of the questions on the form. Clear and concise is better then words for words sake.
- Industry people make a difference too… We always have trouble with industry people. There are several reasons for that. One is that… well, industry people get rewarded in other ways ($$$). And there is always the issue of, for example, having a really good year. In the end, that’s great, but is that necessarily good for government? So the industry winners either tend to be people who have gone above and beyond in their job to help the government carry out its mission… or people who have gone above and beyond in an area outside their job. But… if you know good industry people, nominate ‘em.
Last year as the FCW Insider, I asked previous judges to offer their insights on the judging process. Again, the thoughts of one judge do not mean the same will be true for the following year, but… I’m reprinting them here.
From this post:
Government nominations of Industry do matter and carry weight;
Focus on service, not dollars earned (Cost avoidances to Government catch my eye everytime).
Make sure your references are in fact your references and that they know it!
It is far better to have Government nominate Government as opposed to the vendor who is providing the service.
Keep the facts simple and clearly define the “accomplishment’…Tell the story!
Point out the benefit to Gov. that has occurred now, or will occur in relatively short order;
And from this post:
Back to advice from the judges.
Again, I want to stress that each judging body is unique, so what any of these people say may or may not hold weight this year. An example is the role of theCIO. We go through some years when CIOs are nominated and they get shot down because, as one person said, CIOs don’t really do anything. (Really! That’s what the person said.) Personally, I whole-hearted disagree. I think a CIO can provide absolute essential leadership. That leadership allows others to excel. An strong CIO can also provide his people with cover to try new things, to be innovate. So I disagree, but… to each their own.
So what I’m presenting here are examples and guidance, not rules.
But here are insights from another judge:
There are some things to consider. I agree they are all star awards, not a hall of fame award for long service. Beware of gaming in the system. Several oddly similar write ups from friends and allies is a dead give away. Ask whether the person was basically doing their job. Did the deed(s) involve any risk or did you do as you were told. I am particularly not a fan of people in safe policy type jobs with no risk, no innovation and nothing new. Try to resist the temptation to reward awards based on rank. They are not good for award credibility.
Consider an occasional good effort award. I have a higher opinion of those who tried and failed than those who are selected based on the least number of mistakes.
Work hard to find those that get things done but may be unheralded. I personally get a great deal of satisfaction from seeing beyond those whose blow in, blow off and blow out. Those who persevere should get a break.
Finally, keep rank and diversity in mind when considering an award. Let’s find the Major or GS-13 who is going the extra mile and not just theSES or flag officer. I have been in the leader and follower roles and sometimes it is much harder to be a follower. This is just one person — and a former judge at that, but… hopefully it will help you to hone your nomination.
The best advice: Tell us why he person went above and beyond.
The deadline is Dec. 23… fcw.com/fed100.