“I Wish I Had the Kind Of Job You Think I Have”

There has been too much fed-bashing these days by politicians and the media, much of which has tarnished the perception of the federal employee. We have found out which elected officials are our friends and which are using the feds as fodder for their political grandstanding and campaigning.

Among the many ridiculous pieces of legislation that our dysfunctional Congress and Senate are considering, is the Stop Government Abuse Act (H.R. 2879) which will provide a major disincentive to Senior Executive Service candidates. Other proposed legislation includes H.R. 2711 (recording of conversations) and HR 2579 (withholding salary), both of which basically deprive federal employees of due process and leaves them open to the arbitrary whims of publicity seeking politicians. The list goes on and on. Add to this an extended pay freeze and sequestration furloughs caused by our elected officials and the lot of the federal employee is not a happy one.

When I retired nine years ago I wrote a book, Confessions of a Government Man, which was intended to be tongue in cheek advice along with an anecdotal memoirs of a long federal career. Little did I know that many of my comments about scandals, politicians and the media turned out to be prophetic. In my very first chapter, which has the same title of this blog, I discussed the perception of federal employees. In reality, when my career ended, federal employment was very desirable and the federal workforce, in my opinion, included the best and the brightest. The current fed-bashing by our legislators (who are far from the best and brightest) will in the long run, change the profile of the workforce.

The paragraphs below are an excerpt from the cited chapter (cleaned up a bit for family entertainment). See if you agree. (Note: It’s already a bit dated as evidenced by the BlackBerry reference and no mention of social media.)

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I often wondered what life would have been like if my career had been closer to some people’s perception of those of us in the public sector. True, I was tenured government worker, but if I was a fat, dumb, and happy bureaucrat, which is how many people stereotype us, then how come I left for work before dawn and returned after dusk? When other people were playing, I and many like me spent countless hours working the home computer, cell phone, BlackBerry or just pouring through an endless mountain of paper, much of which ultimately bore my signature. I’m not a drinking man because if I had a drink every time I felt a little stress I would need a liver transplant.

Perceptions aside, the reality is that during my lengthy career I had been to more intriguing places, met more influential people, and committed more money than most people do in a lifetime. I also met my share of flakes, eccentrics and pompous windbags, some of whom I wouldn’t trust to fold a chair for me.

But this is not about me. It is for the good of the people.

The inspiration for this undertaking came from a few real time applications of my many rules for understanding and succeeding in the bureaucracy or the corporate jungle. In no particular order of preference, the most important axioms are “always keep a sense of humor,” “learn from everyone,” and “dogged perseverance.” Lurking in the background is one more all-encompassing truism, “never trust a politician.”

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The last sentence probably sums it up best. Now more than ever, the message would be to stay focused. Things will get better.

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For some more pithy commentary click the links to my blogs, videos and Facebook page on my website – www.thegovernmentman.com.

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Samuel F Doucette

I’m reading your book now! So far, I love it. Thank you for continuing to share your writing talents to tell the story about us that needs to be told, and in a humorous way.

Alan L. Greenberg

Thanks for the kind comment, Sam. I always believed in keeping a sense of humor, even when times got rough.