The Thinker

Let’s keep doing more with less and less!

This is going to win me no friends on Capitol Hill, or in the White House for that matter. But isn’t it time we civil servants said “Enough with the downsizing crap!”?

I’m sick of it. Our agency is going through another one of its politically required processes to bring the number of federal employees down, down. Fortunately no one has been laid off (to my knowledge), perhaps because there are so few of us still around to actually do the government’s business. Anyhow there were “early outs” recently and it doesn’t take an abacus to figure out that this trend is going to continue until I find it worth my while to take an early out too. Since I am 45 though I would hope it wouldn’t be too soon.

But the real problem is that it’s all a numbers game. Guess what … the work load keeps increasing! Yes, fewer and fewer of us “federal staff” are expected to do more and more managing of tasks, and yet it’s not always true that we have the skill to manage the diverse stuff thrown at us. Working as a fed in my agency is like juggling balls without having any training. Okay you are doing two, now do three without even stopping. Now four! Five!

Guess what happens: less and less actually gets done. When you juggle lots of balls you have less opportunity to actually complete anything because you fight fires instead of trying to manage the big picture. So things keep getting delayed and delayed and guess what: that’s not really serving the public interest.

True we have contractors. In my office the contractors outnumber the federal staff about 5:1. It’s gotten to the point (actually it’s been this way for several years) that contractors are effectively doing things that should never be delegated to them, like making decisions on how to conduct the government’s business! There is simply no other way to do it other than to say “we can’t do it” and no one in the chain of command is capable of having spine like this.

Meanwhile middle management, who shall remain nameless but know who they are, are imploring us NOT TO QUIT. Their worst fear is that some other federal agency will hire us away. They know our slots won’t be renewed if we leave and that means even fewer people to do more and more.

It’s a vicious cycle to the bottom. Who’s at fault here? Why your leaders, of course. It’s a numbers game and has no basis in reality. What is the effect? Government is costing you more. It takes longer to do stuff and because contractors are doing the work instead of feds it costs more.

But I know you bought that soap Rush Limbaugh puts out about how “efficient” the private sector is. Yeah, right. Admittedly a federal employee comes with some long term costs: like pensions and stuff. But a GS-13 might cost, max, $50 an hour to the federal government with benefits. I can’t get into specifics here but I can tell you that contractors bill more than that per hour for the most junior level computer programmers. I know this for a fact. The same stuff I did as a GS-9 costs the government more than a fully loaded GS-13!

But you are afraid once a federal employee is hired they are hired for life? Well change the civil service law, dammit. I’m okay with making it easier to fire those of us who truly aren’t earning their salary, but the number is far smaller than people think. Otherwise a federal employee is a bargain compared to a contractor, unless perhaps we are talking about someone hired to clean restroom stalls.

Your tax money is being wasted by this politically correct nonsense. You should be up in arms.

 

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