Executives of the Year

One might think that the ones in charge are in the best position to implement change. They have authority, they have influence, and some even have control over purse strings. But federal executives can be the most shackled to bureaucracy, celebrated for successes but also held responsible when programs go bad – particularly if those programs strayed from the same old way of doing things.

So when executives are willing to push the envelope themselves to improve how their agencies function, while also providing top cover for the teams that implement change or the individuals that proposed the change from the start, it's worth celebrating.


Winners of the Vanguard Executive of the Year awards demonstrate the leadership needed to drive change. They recognize the potential of a shift from the usual way of doing things. They are willing to push back against bureaucracy to ensure the best ideas, whether their own or that of their team, don't whither on the vine. They also are all in – providing the engagement and the resources needed to accomplish the task and maximize the odds for success. And when that success happens, they share the lessons learned – good and bad – to allow others in their agency and beyond to repeat and improve upon the approach.

Simply put, these are feds that get it – feds that implement change not because regulation says they must, but because the potential return makes the prospect impossible to resist.

Federal Programs of the Year

Agencies and industry work in partnership all the time, but every year a few programs stand out as especially successful collaborations. These are programs that build powerful synergies between the organizations involved, that find new solutions to longstanding problems and that transform the government and the nation for the better.

Winners of the Vanguard Federal Program of the Year awards are examples of ideal partnerships between agencies and the private-sector. They are the teams who were not afraid to buck tradition and try something different. They are the leaders who organized their personnel in novel ways, to good effect. These are programs that stand to be transformative because their leaders took risks and tried innovative strategies.

Unsung Heroes of the Year

No agency leader can succeed without a team of talented employees, and sometimes a few of those employees are the true source of a new idea, an innovation that elevates a program from successful to truly excellent.

While they may be ingenious and creative, though, their contributions often go overlooked. They are unsung heroes because few people, even within their own organizations, grasp how significant their contributions were. The Vanguard Unsung Hero of the Year awards honors those men and women, shining the spotlight on them and giving them the recognition they deserve.

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