The looming sequestration has everybody a little bit on edge these days. What actions can we take right now to improve the situation?
One thought that occurred to me - could we implement ideas from the annual SAVE awards, and find some simple efficiencies there? One of my closest friends and longtime colleague Linda Kane always mentioned reducing the margins when you print, thus reducing the number of pages of output.
Or if it's way too late for all that - how can we improve morale for each other? Perhaps the community can band together and we can help ourselves at the grassroots level. One thing that immediately occurred to me was impromptu lunch and learn training sessions like the Federal Communicators Network does, using free tools like FreeConferenceCall.com.
What do you all think? How can we help ourselves during this challenging time?
Good questions, Dannielle. Most feds are mad as hell, to coin a term, and we don't want to take any more BS.
In my view, the problem lies directly with our pathetic Congress. Thus, how about these suggestions:
1) Large federal employee protests of our inept Congress on the steps of the Capitol.
2) Staging sit-ins outside Congressional leadership offices.
3) Demanding via online petition that Congress slash its pay and operating expenses for failing to do it's job.
See my post 3 Reasons to Cut Congressional Pay in Half.
4) Organize a potent and widespread social media campaign spanning multiple platforms to engage two million feds nationwide into speaking out and taking action.
The last idea has some merit ...but the other items seem too focused on Congress. It will take both the President and Congress to reach a deal on this, and so far, I'm not really seeing a lot of movement on the part of this Administration to make a deal. So far, all they have done is help fuel the media frenzy about this. It's time for them to end their media campaign and to engage in some serious negotiations. If the Administration really cares about feds, they should put something on the table now instead of letting the clock tick away and watch the anxiety level among all of us continue to go up. My two cents' worth.
The administration was re-elected. That should have told Congress something about what citizens want. Who or what is the Administration supposed to put on the table and why would Congress persons leave when we are approaching a crisis situation? It is inconceivable to me that they would consider that an option, but they did.
I am with David on this. Congress is so big on cutting expenses? They should put their money where their mouth is. Everybody take a cut just like everyone should pay their fair share of taxes.
Someone who owns a company should not pay less in taxes than the people who work for them. Walmart heirs have the same wealth as 42% of Americans and yet their employees are consistently on food stamps and Medicaid. All the while talking about entitlements and the need to get rid of them. Many companies keep employees hours to just below full time to keep from paying benefits, forcing employees to hold down more then one job and still can't get benefits for their families. Those types of business practices are unethical. Sure it improves profits.
I don't agree with sit ins or protests as it will just make Feds look like they have nothing better to do and add fuel to the fire.
We CAN all send emails to our local, State, and Federal representatives voicing our concern as private citizens and sign petitions that express our concerns. Again, don't send from work email
The petitions are already part of a wide social media campaign and can be posted to most sites if you find one that appeals to your beliefs. Or, you can start you own petition.
People can also institute change in society for better employment, better environment, and better politics by buying stocks in socially responsible companies. Check with your broker. That way you are supporting companies who are not just interested in their profit margin. Buy organic and fair market to get rid of companies who are not interested how their business affects lives. We have to get back to a society that values the community. It starts with each of you who read this blog. You are not alone on this planet and everything you do affects other living creatures.
And that's my five cents.
The sequestration was a political scheme to allow the debt-ceiling to rise without any reduction in the continual overspending of the federal government. Instead the political class proposed to go ahead & raise the debt ceiling now and appoint a super-committee to work out a plan to reduce spending sometime in the next 10 years. As a motivating tool they included automatic across-the-board cuts (the sequester) that were thought to be so bad that the committee would surely find a better solution. They passed the bill, the President signed it, and they all patted themselves on the back for such good & clever work!
Guess what? The committee did not fix the issue & so the Sequestration loomed ... but it was a ways off & the elections were coming and the politicians did not want to work on something so difficult when they had other things to do, so naturally nothing was done.
Well, time marches on ... and Surprise! -- that pesky Sequestration is back and so is the debt-ceiling. Now again they find themselves in a bind with no easy way out, so the finger-pointing goes on. Instead of continually claiming it is someone else's fault, maybe the politicians should try to work out a solution. We raised the debt-limit before and likely will continue to do so, we have raised taxes on the top earners, we have re-instated the full payroll tax & those things have taken effect now ... maybe they need to find some way to reduce spending, even a little bit, and to do that now instead of in the future / next 10 years. Surely there is some waste & overspending somewhere in the entire federal government, so let's work on that.
Sadly, I am not very hopeful. In the stock market, past performance does not guarantee future results ... if only that were the case with the political class.
I have to say my honest opinion even though it may be unpopular.
The place to focus our energies, now, is internally on what we can control rather than externally on what we do not control.
If we, as federal employees, were to join together and revitalize our brand - yes, our brand - then I think this could have a positive impact.
The way to revitalize a brand is to demonstrate unique and irreplaceable value over and above a commodity equivalent.
In short, to show that we are the best at what we do - that what we do is unique - that we are indispensable.
Railing at the system (right, wrong or indifferent) is a way of feeling better temporarily but not of achieving lasting inoculation against future such difficult situations.
To avert the sequestration ... not sure there is much that federal employees can do, that is dependent upon the President/Senate/House taking action & as I have said previously I don't have a high level of confidence in them. If they do manage to put it off, it is likely that the "solution" will just set aside the problem of spending more than our income, and the debt will continue to grow. It seems like the prevalent attitude is "so what if the debt grows, that won't be my problem."
To mitigate the effects of sequestration ... for mitigating actions to have any significant impact they should have been taken when the powers-that-be in your respective agencies put together the budget for the current FY. However I don't expect that sequestration was considered in the budgeting process and so we face significant negative consequences. It's a bit late now to have any major impact, but every little bit helps, so every employee should begin to do whatever they can in their sphere of influence (even if that sphere only consists of 1 person) to reduce/delay spending. If you control some of the cuts, however small, then that will reduce the amount of the cuts that are out of your control. It's not much, but it is something.
Of course if you cut your spending and the person in the next cubicle decides that they can go ahead and spend a little more just because you aren't spending as much, then the net effect is a bust. Thats where some leadership & discipline is required. If you are one of the leaders, then act.
I brought this up just recently. Someone bought a standup desk for $1000 and people are being furloughed because their group doesn't have funds. Going to cause bad blood.
Re: How can we help ourselves during this challenging time?
I wrote a post on resilience a while back, I think the advice still applies.
Using A Government Shutdown to Grow and Improve: