Friday, December 19, 2008

"I Am Public Service:" Great Work in Your Words

For the last few months, GovLoop founder Steve Ressler and I have been bouncing ideas back and forth for a way to highlight public service. That brainstorming process crystallized over the last week as we launched (in collaboration with Steve Mandzik of 1H57) a new website called "I Am Public Service" to highlight and honor the heroic work of public sector employees. Here's a screen shot:

A recent survey by Gallup and the Partnership for Public Service revealed that only 37% of Americans believed that government employees are performing at what they would consider a "good" or "excellent" level. We would like to change this public perception as we share the stories of public servants in their own words.

On the same day that the initial Gallup/Partnership survey results were released, there was an Opinion article in the Detroit Free Press entitled, "Be Grateful for Public Servants, Maybe Become One Yourself." Consider the following excerpt:

"In this moment of political opening in reaction to economic crisis, people seem to be realizing that we need public servants, people whose goal is promoting and protecting the common good...My grandpa, Saul Levin, served on the Michigan Corrections Commission. Saul's brother, Theodore, was a federal judge, and Uncle Ted's son, Charles, served on the Michigan Supreme Court. My dad, U.S. Rep. Sandy Levin, and my uncle, U.S. Sen. Carl Levin, have quietly become the longest serving brothers in the history of Congress.

But it's none of these men who set me to wondering whether we're about to see a public service renaissance. No, it was my mom, Vicki Levin, not famous and never elected to office. For almost 30 years, until she was forced to retire in the spring for health reasons, Mom worked hard as a federal employee -- a classic "Washington bureaucrat."

But I don't think I ever appreciated what her work meant to her and to others, not fully. Back when I lived in the Washington, D.C., area, I tried to convince Mom to retire so she could spend more time with my four kids and her other grandchildren. After all, she was in her early 70s. Why not kick back? Mom bristled at the idea, saying her work and her relationships with colleagues were central to her life.

When her battle with breast cancer forced her to retire in April, we all learned just what Mom was talking about -- and just how much public service can mean. Letters of tribute poured in from colleagues, dozens and dozens of research scientists at universities from coast to coast. Many scholars, some now department chairs, told detailed stories about how they got their research start with Mom's help, or how she co-authored a paper with one scientist that is still her most cited work, or how her committee was the intellectual salon of their field."

Levin provides a link to the stories from his mother's colleagues and goes on to share more about his mother's incredible work as a public servant.

Wouldn't it be great to create a place where we all tell the stories of people who are making a difference through public service? That's the hope of

Over the holidays, would you be willing to share your story? Between now and January 5, 2009, we are hoping to collect and select the best stories to include in a book to be presented in coordination with the arrival of the new Administration.

Let's inspire our nation and restore trust in government by promoting the great work of public sector personnel that are adeptly addressing the many challenges that face us as a nation!

Thursday, December 18, 2008

I Am Public Service

If you haven't seen it, you've got to check out I Am Public Service. Here's a quick video:

I Am Public Service from on Vimeo.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Are You a Member of Generation C?

Originally published at the Young Government Leaders Blog

In my journeys across the Web, I have observed a fascinating phenomena: Millennials and Gen X'ers aren't the only ones embracing the power of social media and its potential to create "Government 2.0."

If I had to estimate the average age of guests at virtual venues like GovLoop, Twitter, the blogosphere and beyond, most participants are people in their late 30s through mid-40s.

In case you're wondering, here's a quick breakdown of the generations in the workforce:

Veterans: Born before 1940
Boomers: 1940-1960
Generation X: 1960-1980
Millennials: 1980-2000

Earlier this week, I was posting a PowerPoint on the generations to SlideShare and saw this deck:

But it's the following slide that really caught my attention:

I think this definition is too limiting and would contend that Generation C represents someone of ANY age who is actively using social media and engages others on the Internet with a "2.0" mindset - creative, collaborative and community-oriented. (For a list of "68 Words Beginning with C" that describe social media, see this tag cloud posted by Ari Herzog.)

In delivering workshops and blogging about the intersection of the generations in the workforce, social media and government, I describe the difference between "Web 1.0" and "Web 2.0" in the following way:
Web 1.0 is like a store front where browsers can behold the wares, but the door to the store is locked. With Web 2.0, there is no store front. It's an open market where people exchange and barter to gain better products and ideas.

Members of Generation C operate under this 2.0 mindset, creating marketplaces all over the Web to share and shape information and ideas.

For Boomers (who don't want to admit that you're getting old!), here's your chance to consider yourself part of a "younger" generation. For the Millennials and Gen X'ers, it's our turn to exercise leadership and create the agencies and organizations that we envision by building upon our aptitude with new media. For people of all ages, becoming a member of Generation C presents an opportunity to construct a bridge across the intergenerational divide and create a cohesive community that coalesces around a collection of common goals.

So if you are a member of Generation C (or wannabe), let's get to work! How can we bring other people in our agencies and organizations into the fold, encouraging them to embrace the 2.0 mindset?

Young Government Leaders (YGL) is a professional organization of young men and women employed by the Federal Government. Its mission is to educate, inspire, and transform the Federal workforce and its membership consists of over more than 1,400 young Federal employees at more than 30 different departments and agencies located throughout the United States.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008 - Caring About Sharing

Greetings, everyone. Have you seen the new open letter from Larry Lessig, Ben Smith (Politico), Tim O'Reilly and others from Mozilla, Wikipedia, RedditMozilla, and the Sunlight Foundation regarding three principles for open government? Here's the slide show:

And here are the three principles:

1. No Legal Barrier to Sharing (law (copyright law) should not block sharing);

2. No Technological Barrier to Sharing (code (limitations on downloads, for example) should not block sharing;

3. Free competition (no alliances should favor one commercial entity over another, or commercial over noncommercial entities).

Also, here are a couple links to learn more:


- Larry Lessig's Blog

- Ben Smith's Explanation at Politico

I am most interested in principle #2. Here's an excerpt from the broader definition of No Technological Barrier to Sharing:

"Content made publicly available should also be freely accessible, not blocked by technological barriers. Citizens should be able to download transition-related content in a way that makes it simple to share, excerpt, remix, or redistribute. This is an essential digital freedom....We would therefore strongly encourage the transition to assure that the material it has licensed freely be practically accessible freely as well."

The call here is for citizens to be able to have free access to digital content...and yet many government agencies themselves restrict access for their employees. It seems that Obama's administration is sending an early signal that they will expect more openness by government - not only in sharing content with constituents, but also allowing the public sector employees to have broader access to Internet media.

If you're a government employee, do you welcome this openness? Or do you have reservations?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

"Generation C" - A New Name for Millennials?

I was just about to post a PowerPoint on Gen X and the Millennials over at SlideShare and came upon this impressive and informative deck that I thought you'd enjoy:

UPDATE on 12/3: I decided to add my own slides that I used for a presentation at the Mid-Atlantic Telework Advisory Council (MATAC) annual event a couple months ago:

Whatever you want to call this generation or the mentality of early social media adopters, we/they are demanding to be treated differently based on their preferences and proficiencies.