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Goverati Stand Tall

Cross-posted on Communicators Anonymous

There has been quite a bit of talk lately about the “goverati” – a term coined by Dr. Mark Drapeau.

“What is the goverati? It is made up of people with first-hand knowledge of how the government operates, who understand how to use social software to accomplish a variety of government missions, and who want to use that knowledge for the benefit of all.”

Of course, there are those who claim to be goverati and are timing their swoop into government change quite nicely. Yet, Aaron Brazell so aptly points out there are two types of government. If you claim to be an expert too soon, all may be lost for you. The memo (transparency, participation and collaboration) for change is all well and good, but at the end of the day, the majority of players are just that…players.

I have had the distinct pleasure of starting my career in state government and have spent the past seven years of my career practicing communications in federal government. During job interviews, I have discovered that working for the government is a strike against me. There is the perception that I work in a Dilbert comic environment (let’s face it, all of us have days where our lives resemble Dilbert or an episode of The Office) and have done nothing but press F4 in a cube all day. Yes, I have my moments when I am frustrated by the slow pace of government and the collective decision making, but I am here to tell you that I have not wasted away my talents or smarts. In fact, I have a leg-up on other candidates. Let me tell you why…the “goverati” must:

Please the figurehead and the long term decision-makers. The sooner you acknowledge the two governments, the less abrasive the work atmosphere. Similar to client-agency relationship, but different enough that these Government 2.0 carpetbaggers will find themselves thrown for a loop or two.

Do your homework and create a business proposal, present proposal and be able to answer for every conceivable (and inconceivable) variable. This enhances your research and writing skills (minus the acronyms).

Lobby silos and senior management for agreement/compromise before official decision meetings.

Be accountable for evaluation and budget spend. (I can hear you laughing, but in some government agencies, this is strictly enforced.)

Be able to dust off an idea or project you pitched 2-5 years ago and try the process again. You must be persistent and diligent. Your passion will only carry you so far…you must have longevity.

So don’t think you can waltz right into my government space and think this presidential memo will radically change overnight how the government processes will be performed. Don’t think your idea will be accepted by all on first go-round or think you only have to make your proposal once. Don’t underestimate those of us who have been around the block and had to earn our stripes. Don’t underestimate the “goverati” who are the true reformers working behind closed doors and long nights without acknowledgment for years. Most of us are the worker bees and not the decision makers. But you will have to get through us. And finally, don’t underestimate us taking our talents into the private sector. We are more competitive than you think and have grown a thick skin. We are ready to play.

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Meghan Harvey

Wow. GREAT post. I’ve been following the rise of the “goverati” & “carpetbaggers” myself, & though I’m just a private citizen, I can’t help but have similar feelings. If this wave of goverati hold themselves in a higher place than private citizens and a more knowledgeable place than the government, who are they representing exactly? I kind of feel like much of the whole point of “the memo” (transparency, participation and collaboration) is lost on them. The point being using new technology to make the country better, make society better and make the relationship between citizens & the government stronger. You offer some smart advice and once again, great post.

Terrence (Terry) Hill PHR

Great article Lauren. I couldn’t read it until I was able to telework because my agency blocks GovLoop. I agree completely about the goverati. The President’s memo on transparency, participation, and collaboration was lost in the confusion of the recovery, budget, and other issues. However, I noticed that my Secretary is using similar language in her communications to agency leadership. Now it is up to us to hold her accountable for following through on her commitment. That’s exactly what I am trying to do, while appreciating the delicacies of working with goverati.