November games: Most fun with your clothes on

Tuesday - 10/30/2012, 2:00am EDT

What's the most fun a career civil servant can have with his or her clothes on?

Hint: It happens every four years and the maximum peak lasts about 10 days.

Answer: The last full week before any presidential election can be a nail-biting, gut-wrenching times for the several thousand political appointees whose jobs — and maybe December's rent or mortgage — depend on who wins. As in which party controls the White House and how long the head of their department or agency sticks around.

If the incumbent (in this case President Barack Obama) wins, it means the 7,000 politicals, some of whom are veterans of the Clinton administration, have hit the jackpot. They have a good shot at staying on, perhaps racking up enough time to retire in the next few years with a federal annuity indexed to inflation and health insurance for life.

If on the other hand their POTUS loses, it means hit-the-road- Jack. Period. End of story.

Most of the political and Schedule C employees are good networkers, which is why they are where they are. Most are capable and smart and obviously have the right political connections. Most make six figures, although there are a few lower-paid support positions.

Some, because of their Washington service, will go into big- bucks jobs oftentimes with companies their department or agency regulated, oversaw and/or worked with. But for some, their time in Washington may become the good- old-days in terms of pay and power. There definitely is life after Washington, but for some its not as much fun/lucrative.

Back in the day, it was not uncommon for politicals (both Republican and Democratic appointees) to change jobs and/or agencies in an attempt to burrow into the civil service where they were relatively safe. Congress often joined in the hunt to find out how many politicals bailed out of their jobs and then burrowed into new ones emerging as career civil servants.

In the last couple of years, the Office of Personnel Management has cracked down on the practice of burrowing. Odds are, if your political boss was going to do it, he or she would have moved a long time ago.

OPM is also responsible for gathering data from agencies that includes the name of incumbent officials, job titles and job descriptions. It will be used to produce the so-called Plum Book. An incoming administration uses it to know where the political jobs are, what their portfolio is and who is in each of the jobs. People in the Plum Book either come in with White House recommendations, or are selected by Cabinet officers and agency heads or, sometimes, they are placed by the White House to keep an eye on other political appointees — including the head of the agency.

On Capitol Hill, an even larger number of Democratic and Republican staffers are sweating the results. Controlling the Senate or House means more staff and committee jobs for the political faithful. It can also mean unemployment if the boss loses the election or retires.

If you enjoy seeing your boss sweat, the next 10 days are going to be the most fun you've had in four years.


NEARLY USELESS FACTOID

By Jolie Lee

The Post-tropical Cyclone Sandy — also dubbed Frankenstorm — was even more monstrous due to a full moon. According to National Geographic,"During a full moon, the sun, Earth, and the moon are arrayed in a straight line, intensifying their gravitational effects on the planet.


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