public sector innovation, 1935

Sumner Tunnel: Washing Machine, Watering Truck. Item 37-10, Sumner Tunnel (East Boston), 7/1/35, Bridge and Ferry Photographs circa 1926-1947 (Collection # 5010.004), City of Boston Archives

I love the handwritten caption: “Washing Machine – Watering Truck and all commercial parts – improvised by Tunnel personnel.” It’s a portrait of public sector innovation.

farewell interns

It’s August, and this Washingtonian is joining the exodus. But it’s not just the lifers emptying out offices all over DC. The interns are leaving too. This summer I helped teach the Washington program for Virginia Tech undergraduates – like many programs sponsored by universities in Washington, the VT program includes both coursework and internships. I participated in a similar program as an undergraduate at Notre Dame. I remember being confused and irritated when I learned my internship assignment would be in the Treasury Inspector General’s office, but years later I look back on it as a formative experience. This summer, I saw VT Washington program interns inspired by internships in organizations like the Project on Government Oversight (POGO), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and the City of Alexandria GIS Division. Not always smooth sailing, but I go away with new confidence in the next generation of bureauphiles. Farewell interns!

halls of government: german edition

Ministry of the Interior, Berlin, Germany

Note: Working in a foreign government after working in US Government highlighted some inefficiencies in how both sides do business. For example, in Germany government workers are entitled to a window in their office. Working in the US government, when I was last promoted, it was to a windowless office from a cube. Did this affect my productivity? I think so. Does it cost the German government a lot more money to give everyone natural light? I bet.