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Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Bureau of Prisons Wanted Whistleblower to Work from a Converted Jail Cell

When the Obama administration in recent years has discussed the federal office of the future, it never mentioned converting former jail cells into workspaces.

A jail cell, however, is exactly where the Federal Bureau of Prisons planned to move a whistleblower after she reported malfeasance to the inspector general’s office. The Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency tasked with protecting whistleblowers, said it successfully prevented the bureau from following through with the punishment.

Linda Thomas, a BOP privatization field administrator, was nearly forced to move offices to a converted jail cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Chicago. The new, cozy digs did not even include a computer or a desk, according to OSC, nor were they near other administrative offices. Thomas would have been forced to climb staircases “surrounded by prison inmates” just to get to her space.

The cause of the relocation? According to OSC, the move proposal followed Thomas shedding light in June 2014 on alleged abuse of management authority and a gross waste of taxpayer dollars. In addition to the IG, Thomas raised her concerns to members of Congress and her supervisors at the bureau.

Just one day before Thomas was scheduled to relocate ...

What Pizza, Lawnmowers and Veterans Cemeteries Have in Common

Federal agencies can learn a thing or two from John Deere and Domino’s Pizza, a leading Office of Management and Budget official said Wednesday.

Federal customer service has been described as “disastrously weak.” But at the Customer Experience Summit in Washington, hosted by Government Executive and Nextgov, Lisa Danzig, associate director for performance and personnel management at OMB, described ways that federal agencies can “delight” their customers in the way top-performing private sector companies do.

The first step, Danzig said, is knowing your customers really well. She spoke of working at John Deere before joining government, in the division of the company that produced riding lawnmowers. The division produced sophisticated psychological profiles of different segments of mower purchasers. The result was “incredible detail in what they know about their customers,” Danzig said.

Also critical to improving the customer experience is setting expectations and gathering feedback on how you’re doing, Danzig said. She noted that Domino’s Pizza has developed a simple online method of showing its customers exactly where their pizza is in the process of preparation and delivery.

“You can debate whether they have the highest quality pizza,” she said. “But they’re doing incredibly well at ...

Learn How to Keep Your Customers Satisfied

"I've been slandered, libeled, I hear words I never heard in the Bible," sang Simon and Garfunkel in a classic tune. "I'm just trying to keep the customer satisfied."

Many federal managers and employees can no doubt relate. After all, it can be a challenge to keep government's many, varied and demanding customers satisfied. To make matters worse, as Camille Tuutti reports in the cover story in the latest edition of Government Executive magazine, the feds don't have a great track record when it comes to customer service. Last November, a Forrester Research study characterized government's service overall as "disastrously weak."

Help, however, is on the way. Government Executive and Nextgov have joined forces to present a Customer Experience Summit next week in Washington. It will explore the issues -- both technological and cultural -- that are critical to improving the customer experience in government. These range from figuring out exactly what it is your customers want to learning about the opportunities for leveraging digital tools to better serve them. 

Here are the details:

  • When: Tuesday, March 24, 7:30-11:40 am
  • Where: Willard InterContinental Hotel

Click here for more information and to register for the Customer ...

Union Boss and George W. Bush Deliver Message to Obama: Give Feds a Raise

The American Federation of Government Employees has long pestered President Obama to give federal employees a significant pay raise.

Given the chance to address the president directly, AFGE National President J. David Cox did not shy away from the opportunity to make the pitch to the president’s face. And in doing so, he recruited a powerful ally: Obama’s predecessor, former President George W. Bush.

The White House invited Cox to march with Obama, Bush and civil rights leaders to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday” and the walk across Edmund Pettus Bridge in Alabama. While Cox said he was honored to be part of the ceremony, the ongoing fight for civil rights was not on his mind when he shook hands with the president before the march began.

“Boss man, it’s time for a raise,” Cox said he told Obama. Cox also thanked the president for avoiding a shutdown of the Homeland Security Department.

He later thanked former President Bush for pardoning two former Border Patrol agents, charged for shooting a drug smuggler, before he left office.

“I believe this is the first time AFGE has ever thanked me for anything,” Bush told Cox, according to ...

Racing Presidents Shoot Video at National Archives

The Washington Nationals, like any city's baseball team, are part of the fabric of D.C., including the federal government. The team honored feds and contractors after the 2013 Navy Yard shooting and it prominently features federal locations in its materials. Plus the Office of Personnel Management has even partnered with the team. Now the National Archives is getting into the proverbial ballgame. This week, the Washington Nationals famous racing presidents mascots shot video at the museum to be shown in the stadium. The National Archives released a series of social media posts during the filming Wednesday, including photos and video.

And suddenly the #RacingPresidents emerge from the Rotunda, ready to run to the next big game! @Nationals #natitude #baseball

A video posted by US National Archives (@usnatarchives) on

Most of the photos posted showed each president -- the four on Mount Rushmore plus William Howard Taft, who was the first president to throw out a ceremonial first pitch at an MLB game in 1910 at D.C ...