Writer's Guidelines

Government Executive, a publication of Atlantic Media Co., is a monthly business magazine serving executives and managers in the federal government. Our 75,000 subscribers are high-ranking civilian and military officials who carry out the laws that define the government's role in our economy and society.

Government Executive aspires to serve the people who manage these huge agencies and programs much in the way that Fortune, Forbes and Business Week serve private-sector managers.

Editorial goals include:

  • Covering news and trends about the organization and management of the executive branch;
  • Helping federal executives improve the quality of their agencies' services by reporting on management innovations;
  • Explaining government problems and failures in ways that offer lessons about pitfalls to avoid;
  • Creating a greater sense of community along the elite corps of public servants to whom the magazine circulates;
  • Educating our non-government readers about the challenges federal officials confront.
  • Government Executive has twice won the Gerald R. Ford Prize for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense, in 1990 and 1995.


Feature Stories

These usually range in length from 1,000 to 2,500 words. Any sidebars must be figured into the total word count. Feature stories fall into these general categories:

  1. Management Issues. These focus on topics of broad interest and include reporting from several agencies. Topics could include downsizing of agencies; reinventing government; recruitment and retention; ensuring that computers succeed in improving productivity; and upgrading training.
  2. Agencies. These stories often focus on one agency with an eye toward finding generally applicable lessons for federal managers. For example, one story assessed the change in NASA's culture as the agency handed off operation of the space shuttle to a private firm.
  3. Government people. Some articles are organized around certain professions within government. For example, we've written about the influence of economists on policy-making, how to make the best use of agency lawyers, and how to recruit and retain a good clerical work force.
  4. Civil Service Issues. These include articles about pay, executive training, ethics, politicization of the civil service and the impact of technology on the workplace.

Guest Columns

Our Advice and Comment section provides a forum for members of our readership to share opinions or experiences. Columns express opinions on issues relevant to civil servants and are usually about 650 words long.


Most of our stories are staff written. We do run occasional freelance pieces, however. Following are some guidelines for different categories of would-be contributors:

  • Professional journalists. These may be full-time freelance writers or employees of other publications. We look for people who have expertise in civil-service issues or the management of federal agencies.
  • Current or former federal employees. We publish personal reflections on the problems and opportunities of public service, as well as analytical articles on the causes and solutions of real-life agency problems. However, we often prefer to assign stories suggested by government officials to writers outside of government. We think independent reporting and analysis often lends credibility to an article.
  • Consultants, corporate executives, public relations representatives. We shy away from articles that seem to be aimed at promoting the fortunes of any individual, product, or program. We almost never publish articles submitted by or on behalf of companies or trade associations.


We prefer to receive queries about possible assignments in the form of a one- or two-page letter that lays out the subject you want to write about, the angle you will take and the sources you will interview. The letter should also detail any relevant experience you have. If you do send us a completed manuscript, be warned that deadline pressure often prevents us from considering or returning unsolicited manuscripts in a timely manner. We must be notified if you submit a piece to other publications simultaneously and if another print or online publication plans to publish it. Submissions that have appeared in another publication are copyrighted and cannot be published as original material in Government Executive. We do not return unsolicited manuscripts.


Stories should be submitted via e-mail. Along with your manuscript, please include:

  • Art memo. Your written list of ideas for graphics may include portraits of your major sources, other photographs, cartoons and illustrations. We especially like to run charts, tables and graphs, so keep any eye out for information relevant to your story that could be presented that way. Please provide us with the contacts we need to arrange to shoot or obtain photographs.
  • Author bio. At the end of the story, please include a one to two sentence description of your professional background.
  • Contract. The first time you write for us, you must sign a contract stating that you will pay income taxes on your fees. If you have never signed such a contract, please request one when you submit your story.


Rewriting. We may ask for a second draft of a story, particularly if you haven't written for us before.

Accuracy checks. We expect you to check all names, titles, dates and facts for accuracy before your story is submitted. However, we always send an edited version of the story back to you so that you may check that no errors have crept in during the editing process.

Payment. We pay upon acceptance, which means after you have completed any requested rewriting or additional work to our satisfaction. Please submit an invoice for the amount agreed upon at the time the story was assigned.

Copyright. Government Executive holds all rights for publication (including publication on the Internet) and all reprint rights.


Tom Shoop, Editor in Chief

Government Executive

600 New Hampshire Avenue NW, 7th Floor

Washington, DC 20037

Fax: 202-739-8511

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