Is there life at your agency after you?

Wednesday - 8/7/2013, 3:34pm EDT

We are often told (usually by people who think THEY are unique) that nobody is irreplaceable. But some of us are more replaceable than others. Some of us would probably really be missed if we left. That said...

When (and if) politicians finish reinventing/gutting the government, what's the federal workforce going to look like? Will it be a lean-but-not-so-mean cadre of fresh-faced, idealistic-yet-pragmatic people anxious to serve? Or, will you be replaced by folks who can barely hack it, who will be looking for a cozy safe job following the next recession?

Politicians of both parties have taken their whacks at government. The Obama administration invented sequestration, authorized a two-year pay freeze, and went after the awards program for career executives. Conservatives in Congress squealed with delight. They extended the freeze another year and are considering making it a six-year deal. They are constantly on the lookout for ways to sock it to bureaucrats. The Benghazi and IRS affairs added fuel to the fire. Democrats say there is no there there! Republicans say either or both are the cover-ups of the century.

In the process, it has been fashionable and also easy to play whack-a-mole with feds and government programs. Federal unions that counted on the Obama administration to protect their members from harm have been sorely (and mostly quietly) disappointed.

So, what's the likely short- and long-term impact on the government as an institution? What happens when droves of long-time feds get fed up?

Here's what one thinks:

"While us old timers consider when to retire and ponder the never ending pay and bonus freeze, furloughs, diet COLA's, etc., young professional feds are reacting to furloughs in a very obvious and logical way...the resumes are flying. Uncle Sam broke the promise — job security and good benefits to offset lower pay. The newly-minted PhDs and highly-recruited 5-star rising professionals have seen the light — punch your ticket, network, and get out while the getting's good. For many young professionals, the job market is already good and looks to only get better in the near term. The retirement tsunami is going to be the least of everyone's worries until the next recession makes federal employment attractive again." -- Old Fed

Nearly half the federal workforce has been furloughed — anywhere from three to six days, so far, with more to come — causing some major financial problems in some families. Although Defense has, again, reduced the number of planned furlough days (it originally planned 22 of them), it is possible there will be RIFs (reductions in force), layoffs, and "sorry-you-are-fired's" in the fast-approaching 2014 fiscal year.

A number of long-time, self-described loyal and dedicated feds, say they've had it. The prospect of a continued pay freeze, reduced and more expensive retirement benefits, and abuse from our well-rested, vacationing Congress is too much for some.

So what happens if thousands of been-there-done-that experienced feds, many of whom inherited the work ethic from their Greatest Generation parents, pull the plug?

Will government be better, worse, about-the-same? Or just different? Will there be more self and less service?

Email me at mcausey@federalnewsradio.com or comment on this article above.


The goats get started at Congressional Cemetery. (Photo by Shefali Kapadia/Federal News Radio)

NEARLY USELESS FACTOID:

By Julia Ziegler

Approximately 100 goats have been unleashed at Congressional Cemetery to help clean up the weeds and unwanted foliage at the historic landmark. According to Florida A&M University, goats are able to consume up to 3 to 5 percent of their body weight in dry matter.


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