DEADLINE EXTENDED! Due to demand, we're allowing three more weeks for Vanguard Award nominations. Go here to tell us about the executive, program or unsung hero you think is worthy of recognition. Submissions are due no later than June 9.

It's true the federal government has made a lot of progress toward becoming more nimble and flexible in recent years, but its reputation as a risk-averse bureaucracy is still somewhat deserved. Innovating remains difficult in many pockets of the government, as managers and agency leaders shy away from the public disdain and scrutiny they fear failure would bring.

An old saying goes, "Nobody ever got fired for buying IBM." That principle still holds — an attempt to push the envelope might succeed or it might fail in a spectacular fashion, but sticking with the conventional, however ineffective it might be, is generally a good shield from criticism.

In recognition of this fact, Federal Times is launching this year the Vanguard Awards, a program to recognize the innovators, the federal government employees who dared to take the risks required to try something new, or that press forward with a new acquisition or technology concept not because they were mandated to, but because they saw the potential. Our contenders will be nominated by you, our readers from both government and industry, and the winners chosen by our advisory board, a panel of experienced federal leaders whose careers have spanned many decades and who have seen many attempts at management reform.

We'll choose winners in three categories, more than one when there are several that impress our board. The Vanguard Executives of the Year are the leaders who drive change. The Programs of the Year are government/industry collaborations that build powerful synergies and find new solutions to longstanding problems. Finally, the Unsung Heroes of the Year are those employees who, despite not having yet become managers and leaders, provide essential inspiration and hard work to make an innovative idea into a reality.

We invite and encourage you get involved. Go here to nominate executives, programs and unsung heroes by May 30, and help us spread the word among your colleagues. The more high-quality nominations we get, the harder our Advisory Board's job will be, but the reward of honoring true innovation will be worth the effort.

Questions? Email us here.