Charles Peters

Charles Peters


I’m Charles Peters, founder and President of Understanding Government.

I came to Washington as a political appointee of John Kennedy’s, having just authored the law establishing West Virgina’s civil service. I had served in the state legislature as chief of a committee staff and as an elected member. In the federal government, I was director of evaluation for the Peace Corps, which meant it was my job to find out what we were doing right and wrong and how we could get better.

I then founded The Washington Monthly, a main mission of which was to find out about what government agenceis were doing right and wrong and how they could do better.

Among our more memorable efforts were articles on the foreign service in 1973 by, James Fallows, the current national correspondent of The Atlantic Monthly and, in 1979, by Bill Keller, the current executive editor ot The New York Times, on the Office of Management and Budget in 1989 by Jason DeParle, now of The New York Times, on the rural Electrification Agency in 1991 by James Bennet, currently the editor of The Atlantic Monthly, and on the Food and Drug Administration in 2000 by Stephen Pomper, current State Department official.

Along the way I wrote a book called How Washington Really Works , now in its fourth edition, and co-edited The Culture of Bureaucracy with Michael Nelson, Blowing the Whistle with Taylor Branch, The System with James Fallows, and Inside the System, fifth edition with John Alter.

I retired as editor of The Washington Monthly in 2001, having recently founded this organization, Understanding Government. My career testifies to my passion to make government work. I welcome those who share this passion. Join us by contributing information and ideas — and, when you have it to spare — money.

Charles Peters, President