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.

A Federal Employee Hits Back

ARCHIVES
Flickr photo courtesy Boston Public Library

Jason Ullner, a career Foreign Service Officer, fires back in an opinion piece in The Washington Post at those who would denigrate public service for political gain:
 

Like many federal workers, I have sacrificed: a high-paying job in the private sector; a year of my life (and the first six months of my daughter’s life) spent in Iraq; long hours; high stress; pay freezes. I’m not complaining; in fact, I quite enjoy my career and my life in the Foreign Service. Yet when I hear our politicians talking about “fixing” Washington, I often wonder to myself: whom would they like to “fix?” Is it the guy I see on the Metro every day, heading to work at the Food and Drug Administration to ensure that our food is safe? Is it the woman going into Commerce Department headquarters to support U.S. companies abroad? Or do they mean the thousands of people who support our troops overseas? How about my fellow Foreign Service officers, who put themselves in harm’s way in Baghdad, Kabul, Damascus and hundreds of other places around the world?

 

Update, 12:28 p.m.: Asked by Government Executive for a response, Rep. Dennis Ross, R-Fla., author of a bill to increase federal employees' contributions to their pensions, said in an e-mail:

There is no doubt in anyone’s mind that many federal employees work long hours, are dedicated public servants and perform their jobs at the highest level. There is also no doubt that the taxpayer can no longer afford defined benefit pension plans, guaranteed raises, a $450 billion payroll, and a federal workforce that is out of sync in both mission and size.

For example, according to data in 2008, the Department of State, the federal department responsible for international relations, had over 12,000 of its 18,000 American employees working in Washington D.C. According to USA Today, The number of federal workers earning $150,000 or more a year has soared tenfold in the past five years and doubled since President Obama took office. According to the same study, federal workers earning $150,000 or more make up 3.9 percent of the workforce, up from 0.4 percent in 2005. During the same time period, unemployment in the private sector jumped from under 5 percent to over 10 percent in some areas of the country.

The need to right size the federal workforce and align pay and benefits with the real world is not about bashing federal employees as government unions would have you believe. The need to do this is about preserving the financial viability of our country with a workforce that, in the age of rapid productivity advancements, remains too large and too noncompetitive. Hard-working Americans in the Foreign Service need look no further than Greece to see what course our nation is on if we don’t act now.

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.

Charlie Clark joined Government Executive in the fall of 2009. He has been on staff at The Washington Post, Congressional Quarterly, National Journal, Time-Life Books, Tax Analysts, the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, and the National Center on Education and the Economy. He has written or edited online news, daily news stories, long features, wire copy, magazines, books and organizational media strategies.

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:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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