Over at GovLoop, Sandy Ressler, who has been a federal employee for 25 years, has kicked off a terrific debate (registration required) over how to stem the tide of negative opinion, and even violence, against federal employees. Among his commenters' suggestions:
-It's time for a modernized federal public relations system: "What did Toyota do when their image was destroyed by the recent recalls? They really amped up their PR/advertising campaign to focus on what they were doing right and proactively tried to address the concerns that their customers had. Historically speaking, the a government agency's public affairs function has been at best, understaffed, and at worst, non-existent. They're too often led by people without a public affairs/public relations background and they're among the first functions to get cut when there's a budget crunch. Should we really be surprised then that the public image of government has decreased over time? This isn't a question of open government or Gov 2.0 - it's a question of basic PR and marketing."
-Management support matters: "The best way to turn this around is to get the chain of command to support the employees. The employees don't make up the rules - they just enforce them. Management needs to be focused on the work place environment so the "worker bees" can get their jobs done. If management can be more receptive to employees training needs and sit in the offices collecting a pay check - then shame on them. Supervisor need to be out interacting with their employees to find out what is going on out on the floor. Supervisor need to set the example and be willing to pitch in when event on the ground become overwhelming and set the proper priorities."
It's a great, productive conversation. Definitely worth checking out.