Sequestration silver lining?

By now, we’ve all heard of the negative fallout of the sequestration, but what positive effects do you think it might have? There are obviously better solutions than this “meat clever” approach, but I’m interested to hear from you what we might gain in either the short- or long-term as a result of the sudden reductions.

Leave a Comment


Leave a Reply

David B. Grinberg

Hey Chris, good to see one of your posts again. Excellent question, as usual.

You know those sayings, people don’t appreciate what they have until it’s gone — and absence makes the heart grow fonder. Well I think that may be applicable here.

Once citizens are without the countless beneficial services provided by the federal gov, they may have a little more respect — not to mention appreciation, if not admiration — for the work feds do every day.

I suppose we may just find out.


Dannielle Blumenthal

The silver lining is that we can get over our fear and insecurities, adapt and grow our value individually and as a whole.

A true story.

A long time ago I had a job that I absolutely loved in the private sector. We were a tiny unit within a global advertising/marketing/PR conglomerate. My boss was the head of this unit. She was and is a genius who remains at the top of her game today.

When they dissolved the unit it was a surprise. My boss told all of us right away. She said – essentially – “show’s over – it’s time to pack up and move on.” And she led by example. There was no “it’s their fault.” There was no hand-wringing. There was only action, adaptation.

If we as a federal workforce could adopt even half of her attitude I think we would look back on this crisis and thank G-d for it leaving us much more resilient for the future.

It’s not enough for the outside world to appreciate what we do. WE have to appreciate it but also APPRAISE our worth in the market.

Jim Collins writes about the “Hedgehog” concept in “Good to Great.” He says great companies have a mission that combines three things:

1) What are you THE BEST IN THE WORLD at?

2) What is your PASSION?

3) What will others PAY YOU TO DO?

This is essentially the brand.

Tom Peters the management guru writes in “The Brand Called You” that we are all the CEOs of our own personal companies – each of us is a brand.

So it follows that on a professional level you should constantly be looking for your “North Star” or “Holy Grail” as a combination of those three things: What am I better than others at? What will others pay me to do? And what do I care about so much that I would do it on my personal time?

Scary times like this have a way of filtering out the wheat from the chaff and I hope we all use the threat upon us to figure out how best to contribute our skills in any professional environment.

John van Santen

I had a similar experience to Dannielle’s except I was the group leader trying to set the example to move on with no regrets. All my people got new positions, some ‘better’ than the position they held in my organization. I can say that the company valued its people, had needs/opportunities in other departments (most in the same buildings as my department), and I was able to keep chins up and heads high.

Since the question asked was to find the silver lining, I’d say the process illuminated the power of positive thinking and the importance of the organization being a partner. Perhaps government agencies can learn to look outside their walls at candidates from any agency to fill positions. Perhaps people can look beyond their own agency for career advancement – mixing up experience across mulitple agencies would be a significant benefit to agencies – it was a specific goal for SES employees when the program was initiated.

Chris Cairns

@David: that’s a really good point. It may make folks appreciate the services that the government does provide. Heck, we may even learn to appreciate the TSA!

Chris Cairns

@Danielle: you’re absolutely right. It may force us to think about our brand. It may be painful building up personal brand equity at first, but once you do, you’ll be in a better position — happier, more financially secure, etc.

@John: it’s hard, but you’re right — positive thinking is really the only way to weather the storm. If you don’t, then it’ll be hard to discover your brand and capitalize on what it is your good at and what you really want to do.


I would like to tie it into the national anti-bullying efforts. The cost of bullying in govt is outrageously high, and there are many bullies in the ranks, including HR and legal.

In the US, most executive agencies and departments are top-heavy because of the insane system that protects renegade managers. Let’s see if Obama stays true to his State of the Union address.

John L. Waid


Your comment to David is borne out by history. About twenty years ago, several states went through budget cuts. A couple actually shut down. The good citizens said “Who cares? Don’t need them anyway!” They they discovered they couldn’t get into the state parks and museums and other good things like that. All of a sudden state employees were not so bad. The citizenry leaned on the Legislature to resolve their problems and re-open the state. In the last couple of times California has tried cutting back on personnel, after a while the citizens started complaining their work wasn’t getting done. They were no more prepared to raise their taxes or absorb cuts in programs they liked, but at least they seemed to understand the relationship between employees and getting things done they wanted.

If there is anything politicians hate more than having to set priorities, I don’t know what it is. They can’t say yes to everyone. They may actually be happy with the current situation, They have someone else to blame for projects that cannot be funded.

I have been around long enough to sadly realize that nothing long term will come out of this. “Important” is one of those things that is, as Obi-wan Kenobi observed, greatly in the mind of the beholder. One man’s swimming pool built in his district with government funds is necessary for the health and well-being of his children but built in the next guy’s district it’s pork. Every program is important to someone. No one is willing to give, willing to remember that this country was designed not to be governed from Washington but from the state capitols with Washington overseeing things that require inter-state cooperation. That is not likely to change because it is not in the interest of either the politicians or the lame stream media. They like things the way they are. They will wring their hands and point fingers and hope this resolves itself.

The publicity over this indicates that the primary axe will fall on social programs administered by the states but funded by the feds. Why should Maine fund social welfare programs in Nebraska? If the states want these programs, they should fund them themselves for their own citizens. If their citizens are not willing to tax themselves to support these programs, they shouldn’t expect the rest of us to do it.

@Megan. Obama will stay true to the public amployee unions who got him elected. Nothing will change.