Emotional Moment

As I have said in my previous post, I am fighting to be nonpartisan.  As a retired federal employee it is hard to watch what’s happening today without concern.  I worked 30+ years in the federal government which means I served over various Republican and Democrat administrations.  All of which federal employees have been called upon as part of their sworn duty to serve these administrations and follow their policies.

This is the first time I have ever heard of federal employees, including senior leadership defying the edicts of the incoming administration.  Highly unusual.  People in this country should be paying serious attention to this.  Those in the Senior Executive Service (SES) in particular tend to vie for the attention of the new administration to improve their career options and remain in their positions.  This seems harsh but this is how it happens in any organization.  Those at the top tend to want to remain there so they work with the incoming leaders to solidify or improve their positions.  Fair competition is appropriate.  Right?

This administration is going after even the career leadership (SES) in organizations who have served over various Republican and Democrat administrations.  This is the unusual part for me.  

Historically, most of these incoming administrations pick those in existing leadership who would best serve their purpose.  There is rarely a blanket impression that all leaders that remain are part of the previous administration and are therefore enemies.  Never happens. Until now.

It seems from current reports that federal agencies may go through another Reduction in Force (RIF).  Painful.  I have gone through this before.  Watching yourself and your colleagues wondering who is going to get the envelope that sends them home or which one will be ‘bounced’ to another job they held before bouncing someone else out into the street.  RIF’s are not simple and straightforward, but always painful.  They don’t really work because those holes left in organizations as a result of a RIF will eventually be filled again.

I ask all to consider as objectively as possible what is really going on today.  We are not at war with any particular country but the administration is planning to increase military spending by double digits.  There are those in our own country who have poor education opportunities and are starving.  Those who are in serious debt due to a student loan crisis. What about helping our own first? What about improving the minimum wage to a ‘living wage?’

Just in case RIF’s happen again, here is information about them for your reading pleasure.

This one is interesting without the federal government stuff a lot of this kind of advertisement may come up very soon:  

Reduction-In-Force or Layoff: What Difference Does it Make?

Here’s the guidance from the Office of Personnel Management, I think I have given you this before: 

Workforce Restructuring: REDUCTIONS IN FORCE

Been there, saw this.  Very stressful.  Missed it then.  Could have happened to me and my family. Could happen to us now. I don’t want to see this happen again.  You shouldn’t either.

Didn’t think it would ever happen again because it didn’t fix anything. Anyone looking at lessons learned?

The federal government loses good workers when RIF’s happen.  Usually this action does not get rid of the so called ‘bad ones.’

Federal employees do get fired.  I’ve seen it. If anyone really wants to improve the federal government, specifically work on this part without discrimination. Bad workers are bad workers and that should be the end of their story.

I will watch this unfold and talk about this later.  The President’s budget is expected to be released shortly.  Congress is now supposed to go into action on its own version.

Oh by the way, what is the status of transportation infrastructure investment?  Critical promise for this administration. 

Posted in Attrition, budgets, Conservatives, debt ceiling, debt ceiling debate, Democrats, Donald Trump, Educating, federal budgets, federal employees, federal government, federal government shutdown, highway spending, highway spenging, Highway Trust Fund, infratrustructure, morale, National Security, Obama, partisan politics, partisanship, personal expenses, President, Public welfare, reduction in force, Republicans, safety, Senate, shut down, transportation, TSA, Uncategorized, Veterans Administration | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Fighting to be Objective

I probably say this a lot, but it bears repeating.  I am a proud civil servant (retired) who worked in different agencies during my career.  This gives me insight into the workings of a variety of federal organizations across republican and democratic administrations.  Since I have this perspective, I am trying very hard to be nonpartisan and objective.

This new administration is already challenging me in this regard.

It is not unusual for new administrations to invoke a federal employee hiring freeze.  Such is the peril of this particular workforce.

Here’s the hiring freeze memorandum from President Trump.    Initial wording:

“By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, I hereby order a freeze on the hiring of Federal civilian employees to be applied across the board in the executive branch.”

Nothing  really unusual here.

Even Reduction in Force (RIF’s), though infrequent, can be expected in any new administration no matter how painful this is to the federal workforce and their families.

These other issues and activities are much more troubling.

Attack on federal employee benefits has begun early and in earnest.

“President Donald Trump this week threw his support behind dramatic changes to federal employees’ retirement and health benefits, calling the current system “unsustainable.””

The Environmental Protection Agency is also under attack.  Severe budget cuts under the new administration are expected.  Already:

EPA has been roiled by turmoil during its first week under Trump, as members of the transition team issued what it has described as a temporary freeze on all contract approvals and grant awards. Trump’s representatives have instituted a media blackout, clapping down on media releases, social media posts and other external communications issued by career staff.”

A media blackout is unusual and concerning. As new administrations come in, changes to media pages and communication policies are expected.  Blackouts? No.

In case you don’t know what the Environmental Protection Agency really does, I think you should read this page which gives some examples of the issues they address.  EPA is an important agency to all of us.   See what EPA is doing in your state.

There is so much concern regarding this new administration’s actions that the “Special Counsel Issues Reminder That Agencies Cannot Gag Whistleblowers.”

“With many federal employees chafing at new Trump administration clampdowns on unauthorized communications, the Office of Special Counsel on Wednesday issued a reminder of the anti-gag order provision in the 2012 Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act.”

Stay vigilant on these and other actions of this new administration.  We now have a situation where the “balance of power” that is supposed to keep our leadership in check is gone.  “Through this elaborate system of safeguards, the Framers of the Constitution sought to protect the nation against tyranny.”

Posted in Attrition, budgets, Constitution, defense, Democrats, federal budgets, federal employees, federal government, partisan politics, partisanship, President, reduction in force, Republicans, white house | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Alarmingly Useless

Anyone see this headline?

The GOP Just Gave Congress the Power to Cut the Salaries of Individual Civil Servants to $1

Republicans in the House now feel empowered to slash and burn federal workers.  It isn’t enough that civil servants are no longer honored.  Now their salaries can be slashed to something really ridiculous.

“…enacted by Congress in 1876: The Holman Rule, named after the Indiana congressman who devised it, empowers any member of Congress to submit an amendment to an appropriations bill that targets the funding of a specific government program or employee.”

Some love the Holman rule – FreedomWorks Praises Adoption of the “Holman Rule” by the House of Representatives

“It’s time to have a serious discussion about the budget deficit and the national debt, which is rapidly approaching $20 trillion, and there is no better way to begin that conversation than the Holman Rule,” said FreedomWorks CEO Adam Brandon. “The revival of this provision, though temporary, is important because it restores congressional power over the executive branch and could lead to reductions in federal spending.”

Others don’t – House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) made a floor speech calling out the insanity of reviving this antiquated rule:

“Republicans have consistently made our hard-working federal employees scapegoats, in my opinion, for lack of performance of the federal government itself,” he said. “And this rule change will allow them to make shortsighted and ideologically driven changes to our civil service.”

With all that is going on in the world today, our congressional representatives are spending much of their time hanging their own employees instead of fixing the problems of the hardworking people of our Nation.

Maybe they really don’t know how to fix the hard stuff –minimum wage, equal pay, student debt, education, immigration, taxes and healthcare reform…  You name it.  There’s a lot.

Reducing the federal workforce does nothing to fix our nation’s serious problems.  It just gives people someone to blame thus providing a distraction.

Posted in Attrition, budgets, Congress, Conservatives, Democrats, Donald Trump, employment opportunity, federal employees, federal government, hiring process, Holman Rule, partisan politics, partisanship, Republicans, Streamline | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Attrition is nothing new

Really! Again?

House Makes It Easier to Cut Federal Employees’ Pay, Slash Workforce

Every administration has goals and promises to meet for its constituents.  Each one seems to have a focus on reducing the federal workforce and cutting their pay and benefits.  This is nothing new.  For many years now, the federal workforce has been reduced by attrition. Do you know the real meaning of attrition? Focus on the words “strength or effectiveness.” Is this what you want?

What is attrition?  I think this one is most appropriate when addressing the federal workforce.

at·tri·tion

əˈtriSH(ə)n/

noun

  1. the action or process of gradually reducing the strength or effectiveness of someone or something through sustained attack or pressure.

“the council is trying to wear down the opposition by attrition”

synonyms:  wearing down, wearing away, weakening, debilitation, enfeebling, sapping, attenuation; gradual loss

“the battle would result in further attrition of their already lame naval force”

This is a comment I support about attritionAttrition, due to retirement or death, depletes the organization of valuable expertise and talent because no employees are replaced after the employment relationship ends.”

Much of federal employment attrition at this time is due to retirements. This is the most problematic way to reduce the federal workforce.  When the knowledge and expertise leaves any organization and that organization does not have back up for that loss, problems ensue.  Even private industry understands this.

As example, an experienced food inspector retires and is not replaced due to attrition.  No one comes in with the experience to know what to look for to keep us safe from dangerous food imports or just problematic food grown and sold for our ingestion in general.  Not good.

“Willy nilly” attrition of the federal workforce has been risky historically and continues to be so.  Administrations have used attrition to reduce the federal workforce for many years.  Particularly those agencies not related to defense and national security.  How much can this very narrow segment take?

My experience – for much of my last 10-13 years, at least, of civil service I was asked to take on the jobs of those employees who have left the organization in which I was employed.  My manager said to me “… is leaving, we need you to take on their responsibilities until we find a replacement.” No replacement found.  This happened again and again.

“Oh by the way, since you know contracting and budgeting, would you take on these responsibilities until we find a replacement?”  Okay, I’ll do it.  Again, no replacement.  After a few occurrences (and no commensurate pay increase) you find yourself handling the work of several employees that has to continue for which no replacements will be ever come.

How much more can federal employees not in security and defense related positions take? This is not the real issue.  How much can you take?  How often have you needed help and no one answered the phone?  Who do you blame for this?

Think about it.

Stop blaming the agency.  The agency can only do what its leadership (Congress) provides the resources and budget for it to do.

Take off your blinders.  Understand the responsibilities of your Representatives and call them out on it.

Posted in Attrition, budgets, Congress, Conservatives, Constitution, Customs and Border Protection, defense, Democrats, federal budgets, federal government, hiring process, Informing, National Security, partisan politics, partisanship, Republicans, retirement, safety, Senate, Streamline, white house | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Back at It

Time to get back at it.

The federal workforce may be coming upon yet another challenging period. A new administration enters into power in a few days. Many civil servants don’t really know what will happen.  Any change of administration brings some sense of unease.  Such is the life. It’s like no other career in America.  Well; state, local and federal civil servants are in the same position. Federal civil servants may be more visible from a national perspective. And ultimately easily targetted.

As a long time civil servant and current retiree, I have been through many such administrations.  Some with big changes.  Others not so much.  During this traditional transition period, many political appointees have already moved on.  During these transitions, the career civil servants end up taking on leadership in their organizations to ensure the continuance of programs and projects that must remain uninterrupted for the safety, health, security and over all wellbeing of America here and abroad.

This seemingly thankless role must be carried out.  Every change of administration requires it.

This one is no different. Then after the swearing-in, the new leadership roles in and takes over sending those who held down the fort back into normal duty until the next time.  Maybe they will be taken to lunch or given an award of some sort.  Typically they are patted on the head and sent back to their own offices and responsibilities. A few may even get a chance to remain among the new senior leadership.

This process is not a bad thing really.  Anyone becoming a civil servant must understand the uniqueness of their career choice.  It is still well worth it to become one.  I have never regretted it.  Service to your country is like nothing else at all.

Never forget this.  Civil servants everywhere serve their country, state and local community. Appreciate them.

An added bonus –

Please, take time to read what the Food and Drug Administration does for  you.

FDA in the news – Storms and stability ahead for food safety efforts in 2017

Posted in budgets, Congress, Conservatives, Constitution, Democrats, Donald Trump, federal employees, federal government, Public welfare, Republicans, safety, Senate | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What Can I Do? What Can You Do?

Here we are again. I said this a little over a year ago. Not much has changed. Take a look at my old references and let me know if the story has changed this time. I believe if we don’t do anything to stop it, history repeats itself.

Follow this interesting link as an update then compare to the last time:

http://www.rollcall.com/news/stopgap-talks-still-mired-democrats-slam-senate-gops-plan?utm_name=newsletters&utm_source=rollcallheadlines&utm_medium=email

 

From My Standpoint

I visited my former agency and all seemed quiet.  I wondered what happened to the high energy.  What happened to the laughter and hum of conversations?  Is there anything I can do to help?  I actually wanted to start dancing and singing up and down the rows and rows of quiet cubicles.  Cube life in itself is no joke.  Whose idea was that anyway?

What’s going on now that all seemed quiet and waiting?  Haven’t you heard?

Another potential federal government shutdown is on the minds of federal employees right now.  How can anyone get their job done?  How can anyone focus on their key responsibilities as they wonder what will happen at the end of this month?  Again?  Are we really here again?

What was the reason for the last shutdown?  This is a reminder with a brief timeline.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_federal_government_shutdown_of_2013

Why are we in this place again?  Same congressman…

View original post 593 more words

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Something Concrete

For this election season, I’ve been watching and waiting for either party’s documented views on the federal government, agencies and employees.  We have the first concrete view.  The Republic Party has released its 2016 Platform.

According to Government Executive, “The Republican Party’s 2016 platform calls for a slew of reforms targeting the federal workforce, including cuts to pay and benefits.”

GOP Platform: Cut Feds’ Pay and Benefits While Making It Easier to Fire Them

Go ahead and take a look at the document:

Republican Platform 2016

You will find the Government Reform section begins on page 23, the Republican Party states that “We pledge to make government work for the people, rather than the other way around.”

Does this mean that the federal government does not now work for the people?  Pretty broad statement.

The Party also states that “We support the following test: Is a particular expenditure within the constitutional scope of the federal government? If not, stop it. Has it been effective in the past and is it still absolutely necessary? If not, end it. Is it so important as to justify borrowing, especially foreign borrowing, to fund it? If not, kill it.”

Would like your opinion on what this really means.  How will the GOP conduct this test?  How will results be measured?

Nothing concrete from the Democratic Party yet.  This should be a part of its 2016 platform as well.

I need to add this –  The National Academy of Public Administration has released its Transition 2016 report.  You should take a look this.

Transition 2016 Equipping the Government for Success in 2016 and Beyond

Posted in budgets, Congress, Conservatives, Constitution, Democrats, Donald Trump, federal budgets, federal employees, federal government, Presidential election, Republicans, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment