The Greater Los Angeles Area YGL will maintain an environment that educates, inspires & transforms federal employees into prized promotable assets & be models for organization management that will be admired & emulated by agencies.
YGL-LA: Local Government…We come, we see, we fix
July 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm #165688
Recently I lunched with a former colleague who was interested in exploring opportunities in local government. She mentioned an interest in economic development, but also mentioned she wasn’t altogether sure exactly what she wanted to do, and was looking for advice. It was not an unfamiliar sentiment.
Truthfully, I never imagined myself working in government. I don’t imagine many of us did, and that even fewer ever dreamed of growing up to be… dare I say it… bureaucrats. Yet, here I am. However, I am quite proud to be a local government employee, and more specifically, a City of Los Angeles employee. Let me explain why.
A couple weeks ago, I was contacted about a constituent with health issues that had been the victim of fraud. The victim had been relying on a relative to pay his bills, only to find that the relative had kept the money, and left the victim with a huge overdue account. Due to a variety of issues, the victim was not having much luck reaching a payment plan with the creditor. I was informed, and I promptly made a few calls to the creditor; two days later, I got a note from the overjoyed constituent stating that a payment plan had been reached and his situation resolved. It was quite gratifying.
I realize the bureaucrat label doesn’t exactly conjure up images of competency, professionalism, or any other positive adjective. However, when people derisively refer to “those bureaucrats,” I’m pretty sure they aren’t talking about local government. We are out in the field every day, meeting and talking with constituents about issues near and dear to their hearts. We listen to their problems, and hear about the impact to their families. Then we go out and find a resolution. Working in LA, you see it all and the City reaches so far that when you come up with a particularly novel idea, the nation follows. See: 30/10 and America Fast Forward.
The advice I shared with my colleague? You don’t have to know exactly what to do, because in government you can do everything. So get involved. Start local. Gain an intimate understanding of the issues folks face every day. Develop solutions, and then identify ways to scale them up and take those ideas to DC, where they could use some local practicality. At least, that’s my take.
In any case, agree / disagree, I’d like to hear your thoughts.
July 10, 2012 at 3:18 pm #165698
Great post, it’s true that government doesn’t get the “street cred” it deserves. We all know Government isn’t perfect, but it’s people like you that remind us of the impact (positive) government has on our country, from local to federal. Many amazing things have come from Government (Internet, GPS, etc.). Changing public perception of “government bureaucrats” is a tough job.
I’d tell your colleague to get a job or an internship in Government just to get a foot in the door, eventually she will find something that she truly enjoys. People helping people, it’s powerful stuff!
July 10, 2012 at 3:29 pm #165696
I definitely feel you can have more of an impact working for local government and think about making the switch at times, at least see your impact a little more. You definitely feel obligated to do a better job living amongst the people you serve.
Great post! It made me think back to the 2011 NextGen Summit and the “Not Your Father’s Bureaucrat” poster…
July 10, 2012 at 5:30 pm #165694
Love seeing the poster in its natural environment 🙂
July 13, 2012 at 1:15 pm #165692
I like your choice of words when your describe your friend wanting to get involved in government. I think that the general public has the negative image because they confuse politics with government. Those that I know in local government are hard working and ferreting out ways to serve the public despite the politics and solve problems big and small everyday. Are there places where effeciencies could be increased? Yes, there are. Are there people who are negative and a detractor from the good. Yes, there are. Those things are not unique to government. What is unique to government work is that what a person does, on most occasions, serves the greater good and the good of those that are underserved in our community. If the public could see past the politics this is what they see.
July 13, 2012 at 2:21 pm #165690
William H. Devereaux, IIIParticipant
So proud of you Israel!!
As a fellow City of Los Angeles employee I’d like to think my daily work makes a positive impact on my adopted City of residence. But often those around, especially those in positions where they can ignore my recommendations, try to blow out my candle. But I strive to do all that I can, or at least as much as I’m allowed to do.
THANKS for what you do… for your service… or as be it, civil service!
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