DorobekInsider: A positive step for federal workers: Improving the buildings

Thursday - 9/3/2009, 2:51pm EDT

The government is probably going to be hiring a number of new people.

In fact, the federal government is going to be hiring tens of thousands of new employees, according to a Partnership for Public Service report issued today. The new projections, highlighted in Where the Jobs Are 2009: Mission-Critical Opportunities for America, outline government-wide, mission-critical hiring needs through 2012 and are based on a survey of 35 federal agencies representing nearly 99 percent of the 1.9 million member federal workforce. More about the report here.

The question looming — will the government be able to attract — and retain — those people. (Harvard Kennedy School professor Steve Kelman recently posted about it in his FCW.com blog… we spoke to him about it. Hear that here.)

There are several reasons why people become feds — and decide to stay with the federal government. When I was at FCW, we conducted surveys to find the best IT shops in government. These surveys are always fascinating because they all come to similar conclusions — people choose government work because they are passionate about the mission. And then there are side benefits… like the benefits. But it is largely about the mission.

But their biggest beefs are often about working conditions. Any most people who have walked the halls of federal buildings have been met by these long hallways that can feel isolating.

Here is one hallway at the General Services Administration, for example…

This isn’t anywhere close to the worst of it…

Contrast that with Google’s DC offices, which I got to visit last year…

To be fair, I recently visited the new building for Microsoft Federal in Chevy Chase, MD — and it is a green building. There are no yoga balls, but… it is remarkable.

As part of the stimulus package, however, GSA is going to be changing that… and, in fact, they have a model of what the new GSA HQ will look like in GSA’s Office of the Chief Architect here in Washington, DC.

I got to tour what they call “heaven” yesterday — and it is a huge improvement. There are two concepts — one where the walls still exist, but there is also an open design. They eliminate the window air conditioning units but keep the wonderful windows — and the light that those windows provide. The redesign is more green — and it is cost efficient, they tell me. (Apparently the model has been around for awhile, but… I just got to see it.)

Other photos here… and here

The new digs are a welcome change.