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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.
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Bureaucrats Create Card Game to Poke Fun at Bureaucrats

When two employees at the Defense Department realized they needed so many levels of approval to drive their own cars across a state line for work purposes that people they had never even met were involved in signing off on the excursion, they decided they had to do something.

That something, it turned out, was to create a card game.

The Defense civilians working in research and development, who requested their names be withheld as they currently work at the department, are putting their finishing touches on the Government Worker card game -- in which the winner is the player who accomplishes the least amount of bureaucratic work.

The employees, who have spent 20 and eight years in the government, respectively, said they have seen things at the workplace “so surreal” they didn’t think anyone would believe them if they told the story. Instead, they decided to bring their experiences to life through their game. They partnered with a friend in graphic design and are currently seeking Kickstarter funding to pay for the printing of the actual game cards.

They describe the game as mix of Cards Against Humanity -- an adult-oriented party game -- and Uno. The players receive “work cards...

Really, Federal Government? You Don't Regulate Flamethrowers? Really?

Ever been so mad at something that you just wanted to just take a flamethrower to it?

According to Guns.com, “getting your hot little hands on one may be a lot easier than you think.” That’s because “there is no federal prohibition against owning a working one.”

Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., was astonished to learn that, and wants to do something about the situation. And, as Bloomberg Politics reports, because Engel is a fan of “Saturday Night Live,” and especially its former Weekend Update host Seth Meyers, he’s called his legislation the Flamethrowers? Really? Act.

In case you don’t get that reference, it’s a nod to a recurring Weekend Update segment called “Really!?! with Seth and Amy,” the Amy in question being Amy Poehler. In the segment, she and Meyers specialized in skewering celebrities and politicians. Here’s an example:

For Engel, the theme fit the flamethrower situation at the federal level (only two states, Maryland and California, regulate the devices). “You’d just assume—right?—that flamethrowers would be regulated,” he told Bloomberg Politics. “It just causes you to scratch your head and say, ‘Really?’”

Engel’s solution is pretty simple, and included...

How a Bureaucratic Job Turned Ted Cruz Into a Political Renegade

Sixteen years ago, when a young Ted Cruz moved to Austin, Texas, to work in the presidential campaign of George W. Bush, he had big aspirations. A lawyer by training and an indefatigable political operator, he envisioned ending up as White House counsel in a Bush administration.

Things turned out a bit differently. “When Bush won, however,” Shane Goldmacher and Daniel Lippman write in Politico Magazine today, “Cruz would not get the White House post he had dreamed of; instead, he found himself in the bureaucratic backwater of the Federal Trade Commission.”

“I burned some bridges on that campaign,” Cruz told Politico, blaming his youth and immaturity. “It was a difficult chapter when you poured your heart into something for two years and the desires of your heart are denied. That’s hard. And particularly when you’re seeing so many of your friends rewarded.”

The desires of Cruz’s heart involved working in the West Wing. The problem was his relative lack of experience and tendency toward self-promotion.

So Cruz had to settle first for a stint at the Justice Department and then a high-ranking position at the FTC, where he apparently threw himself into his work. Indeed, during...

Labor Secretary Likens Department’s Job Centers to Match.com

Saturday’s broadcast of the NPR news quiz “Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me!” featured Labor Secretary Thomas Perez describing his department’s 2,500 job centers nationwide as similar to Match.com.

Perez was introduced by host Peter Sagal as the man for whom “technically, his job is all the jobs. What exactly to you do?”

The secretary invoked the online dating service, saying “We help job seekers who want to punch their ticket to the middle class. We match them with employers who want to grow their business.”

Reminded that “this is still a capitalist country” and that the government can’t merely command employers to hire, Perez said, “We’ve worked with a lot of state and local governments to help raise the minimum wage because the Republican leadership in Washington has refused to do so.”

Asked if he was slandered during his confirmation hearing, he called that “a fair statement.”

Asked what skeletons were in his closet, Perez said he once went into a grocery and entered “a six –item line with nine items.” He revealed that as a teenager his first job was holding three paper routes, and that later he picked up golf balls...

When ‘Ignorance’ and ‘Contempt’ for Government Is a Political Winner

Several good-government groups have mounted campaigns to improve the presidential transition process this year, with the aim of smoothing the path for the next administration to begin governing effectively. But there may be a complicating factor: Several of the candidates on the GOP side have little faith or trust in government, much less interest in doing the hard work in advance to make it work effectively.

“Ignorance of the traditional levers of government and contempt for those using them seems to be an advantage” in the race for the Republican presidential nomination, said Joshua Bolten, White House chief of staff to President George W. Bush, Wednesday. Bolten spoke at an event marking the launch of the Center for Presidential Transition at the Partnership for Public Service in Washington.

Exactly one year out from the next presidential inauguration, Bolten and Thomas “Mack” McLarty, chief of staff to President Clinton, talked at the event about the challenges facing incoming and outgoing administrations.

When George W. Bush took office in 2001, he was viewed as an “illegitimate president” by half the country due to his bitterly contested victory over Al Gore, Bolten said. Since then, polarization in politics has gotten even worse, he...