Newspaper Column: A Master Executive Comes and Goes




Nicoson, William J.

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The Connection


Robert J. O’Neill, Jr., arrived in August 1997 to become Fairfax County Executive, raising high hopes that he could do for Fairfax County what he did for Hampton, Virginia. There he is credited with “reinventing government” during 13 years of service as city manager -- a performance celebrated by expert commentators in Banishing Bureaucracy (1997) and winning him the prestigious National Public Service Award in 1996. Next month O’Neill will leave Fairfax County to become President of the National Academy of Public Administration, of which he was appointed a lifetime fellow in 1997. The nonpartisan,independent Academy chartered by Congress sponsors studies of government operations at alllevels but itself exercises no government functions and employs a staff too slim to trim. To escape the political winds of Fairfax County may be a relief for O’Neill, but those close to him wonder whether his executive talents will be wasted.


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O'Neill, Robert J., Fairfax County (VA) Government, National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA)