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

Are You More Likely to Die on the Job Than Get Fired?

ARCHIVES

USA Today is at it again, with another subtle, nuanced, balanced look at the federal workforce. The headline on this one: "Some federal workers more likely to die than lose jobs."

First off, not to put too fine a point on it, but I think all workers are more likely to die than lose their jobs. Unfortunately, your chances of death in this world are 100 percent. But what the article really means is that in some agencies, your chances of dying while holding a particular position are higher than being fired from it.

There's no question that federal agencies don't fire or lay off large numbers of employees. Federal managers' track record, on the whole, in dealing with poor performers is not exactly stellar, if you believe employee surveys. Still, there's once again an apples-to-oranges element to USA Today's analysis. By comparing federal agencies to the entire universe of private companies, the report doesn't take into account that government's workforce is more professional than the private sector as a whole.

Nona Willis Aronowitz of Good quotes Heather Boushey, senior economist for the Center for American Progress, on this point: "Many federal workers are highly technical and better educated than the population overall. The government has invested years of training to place them in a very specific job, so they're much less likely to fire them."

Indeed, USA Today acknowledges that within government, blue-collar workers are twice as likely to be fired as white-collar employees. And it notes that the job with the highest firing rate in government is one where you'd expect a lot of turnover in the private sector, too: food preparation.

Should federal agencies be firing more poor performers? Quite possibly. But something tells me that if large numbers of professional white-collar employees in government were being dismissed for incompetence, USA Today wouldn't be publishing a story portraying that as a sign of healthy management.

 

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

    Download
  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

    Download
  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

    Download
  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

    Download
  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.