Top 5 – Lies We Hear in Gov’t

We are getting into the political season with the Republican debate two nights ago and President Obama’s jobs/vote for me again speech last night. In the coming months we’re going to here a lot of things come from both sides, so how do we know when their genuine and how do we know when their just pulling our chain?

With those questions in mind the GovLoop team has put together the Top 5 Lies We Hear in Government. On to the list:

5.) This will be a quick meeting and or speech: Let’s face it nothing moves fast in government. If your agency wants to hold a meeting or if the president wants to speak on TV you better strap in cause it’s going to be a while.

4.) I did not have sexual relations with that woman: When was the last time a politician was accused of cheating and it actually turned out to be false? Come one guys, we’re not that dumb.

3.) This project will pay for itself: We here at GovLoop racked our brains and couldn’t come up with a project that is costing the government nothing so why do they keep trying to sell that idea. We know things aren’t free, if we want it we’ll have to pay.

2.) We have our constituents best interest in mind: So sometimes this might actually be true but sometimes you could easily substitute the words lobbyists or party into that sentence and it would probably be a little more true.

1.) We’re going to come to a bipartisan agreement: Give us a break! Sadly in this day and age there is really no chance of this happening in the current political landscape. Whoever doesn’t flitch first gets their way… no true agreements are being made just concessions.

What are some of yours?

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Chris Poirier

Okay, so now for a few serious (kinda) statements on this:

1.) Listing things short and to the point (with a dash of humor) makes people remember things more. Trust me on this, it’s more true than most things politicians promise going into an election year. (For real this time!)

2.) Number 3 is a sad reality, but is compounded by: We always get best value to government on every contract we sign for services and/or products. ..yeah about that..

I got to thinking the other day..which is a scary concept at times..when I was informed that the E-Gov initiatives in government cost the great taxpayers of this nation millions of dollars a year. Wait, roll that one back: Yup, I said the words 1.) Millions and 2.) Years in that sentence. So, let me get this straight.. We pay millions in tax dollars for a bunch of contractors (..well..actually only a very limited subset of contractors..) to do what?…Build websites. That’s right people, websites. Something a high school student and/or an undergrad does for fun and/or could do as a class project, we pay people millions of dollars a YEAR for. (Before someone goes off the deep end, yes this is for development..not so much for hosting space..and that should make people even more upset.) This is only compounded in my head by the simple fact that websites and hosting is pennies on the dollar cheap in today’s could based world.

Alright, so what’s my point: In-sourcing and/or innovative alliance with the academic sector to provide transparency, civic entitlement to students, and a way to further public engagement..all while saving the government money.. PRICELESS. You know..didn’t Woz say something about this recently.. (yup…)

..Think about it..

Peter Sperry

@Chris — You seem to be forgetting — The entire reason for government at the federal, state and local level is to support the contractor community. If a program or project meets a public need without generating revenue for contractors than obviously it needs to be reengineered. You also need to hire consultants who will also provide motivational speakers to explain how awesome it is to spend $1 million for something government employees could do for 1/10 the cost.

Jenyfer Johnson

“This is not just a passing fad, ________ is here to stay and will become a way to do business.” (Insert whatever Quality-muck is here today, Quality Circles, TQM, Six Sigma, etc). We’ve all heard this about every 3-5 years, when the Govt embraces a the new fad of “quality”, drinks the kool-aid and spends countless $$ to train everyone AGAIN.

Been there, done that (by a different name)!

Chris Poirier

@peter – DOH!..I did bad..

So to make it fair, I think everyone should send me a $1.00 for my thought and energy..wouldn’t want the government to get something at or below cost.. 😉

Chris Poirier

Yeah Maybe when you or I were in high school that would be true… Maybe you missed the point of the cartoon? A lot of top tech is well under 30 in today’s market.

Matthew Wayne Gonzales

@Chris The old government ways of saving face and building positive perceptions are seemingly immovable and unchangeable! It pains me and so many others that we will seek some of the most costly, slow, and inefficient methods to accomplish our goals in an attempt to obtain a reputable and transparent business practice. The young minds of today are certainly in agreement with you, and ignoring the alternative to web dev you brought up is plain ignorance. Change is scary, innovation is risky, and I do not think that government is ready to venture into these realms just yet, nor do I believe they will be anytime soon. Despite our wealth of talent and hard work, which transpires among all ages btw, I feel like there are too many obstacles/barries that are standing in the way forward. It would be nice to see or hear about instances in which we removed or deconstructed some of these barriers.

Cue the lies… all an attempt to convey a perception that is frighteningly influential even when false. At least there are people who recognize the lies as such, and have even put together this list of most common lies!

Julie Chase

@Jenyfer…I was thinking the same thing only about NSPS. Went to all the BORING training conducted by “contractors”…that’s funny too…ha ha…..instead of the 2/3 PARS, we now had a 13 or more page whatever to list our S M A R T and respond with O R C A and added value. What??? Come again??? Ok, so basically the “new” system allows me to spend 1/2 a day to write out how “wonderful” I am? Really? and when can I catch up on what I was hired for in the first place?? I am so glad my WG husband, steward and delgate and the I AM fought tooth and nail to stay out of it. Now….fast forward, we are GS’ again. All that money…for what? Oh, yeah, and NSPS is here to stay.

Spanky Frost

Well, having worked for the federal govt since the mid-seventies and having both Treasury and DoD financial career background, I come to realize one of the major flaws of an employee applying for promotion and/or sitting before an interview panel… they are looking for someone bright, educated and innovative. The interview questions want the applicant to identify in detail their past contributions efforts that show they were innovative in relation to the proposed position (ie. accountant).

When I see (or hear) these questions, I honestly swallow with disgust. Let’s not pretend for a moment and understand that in order to be truly innovative at anything, especially within DoD, means you have to so-call “think outside the box”. You have to go against the grain of the current process or mission. What does that mean? It means you have to disagree with current management and processes and “act against them” to change something. And many or most management don’t like that!

Although hiring management wants to hear “tales” of your innovative efforts and if they hire you, no where in the federal government wants you to go against the grain of management’s mission and processes. If you do, you will be black-balled and considered a “problem” employee.

This has happened to me quite a few times with the agencies I worked during my career. Hopefully I explained this elementary enough to understand, but it is a BIG lie and problem, especially within the ranks of the federal government and hiring processes. Hiring managers need to change the way they hire and ask interview questions. I have interviewed many times with various agencies over the past decade and it seems most of them have this standardize way to conduct a panel and the questions seem artificial to the lies… “tell me your past accomplishments by being innovative”. And I had one interview panel actually want me to list FIVE and they wanted details…. lol.

to be honest. If they are willing to allow employees to be innovative, that means the employee could disagree. Most senior employees would not get hired or promoted

Ed Albetski

@ Jenyfer, oh yes! I’ve been through that merry-go-round a few times. What I think happens is that the executive secretary (the moat dragon) either didn’t do their job or was out to lunch and a vendor call got through to the director who was immediately brainwashed by the sales pitch. What nonsense TQM and ISO9000 were! I think everything we were told could be inferred from reading the foreword of any business school textbook. Every few years they change the jargon and repackage it to sell the scam to new marks. Really, it’s like watching those late night ads for weight-loss pills “effective with diet and exercise…”. Yeah, with diet and exercise you don’t need the pills. If you hire managers with half a brain, they don’t need this course either…

Julie Chase

@Spanky…so true, my dear so true. I work for DoD, DoN….PD’s are rather specific in what “your job” is. Processes are to be followed to the letter, the outcome is not important, it will happen, eventually….

1. the hiring process…..eventually you may get hired

2. to a manager looking to hire….eventually someone will be hired

3. procurement……true story….(mine)….eventually, Ms. Chase you will get the non-networked laptop you ordered….it took 6 months!! Remember, it’s about the “process”.

I said, “well, here’s an idea!, how about I order the next IT hardware through my local contracting dept.?” “No, Ms. Chase you have to follow the guidelines set forth in MARADMIN….umptysquat, para. 3, section 4 a. If you have ever seen the old Family Circus cartoon, where Billy’s mom calls him into the house to supper, and instead of going straight to the back door, he climbs the fence, follows the dog, jumps in a mud puddle, stops and chats with friends, jumps back over the fence, swings on the swings, goes down the slide chute, swings a bat, bounces a ball, climbs the steps and walks into the house? This is what it is like to order anything. The lie is, we have to follow the process due to security reasons. TQM didn’t last long, because employees don’t really have a buy in…….

So much for innovation. <sigh>