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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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Feds Will Miss a Pay Raise Champion

Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., announced on Monday she will not be seeking re-election when her term expires next year.

The lawmaker was known for many things, including being the longest-serving woman in the history of Congress, but to federal employees Mikulski was best known as a champion. Her position as the top Democrat on the influential Senate Appropriations committee often gave voice at the negotiating table to issues important to federal employees.

With the power of the purse at her disposal, Mikulski fought to end the federal employee pay freeze in 2014. She frequently cited the critical role of the civil service when arguing to boost funding at agencies or resolve impasses during the appropriations process.

Names floated to succeed Mikulski include many Maryland Democrats in the House with a record of supporting federal workforce issues, such as Chris Van Hollen, Donna Edwards and Elijah Cummings. Her most likely potential successor on the Appropriations Committee, however, appears to be Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., who represents far fewer federal workers than the Maryland senator and included an increase in new feds’ contributions to their retirement pensions as part of her signature budget deal in 2013.

Needless to say, federal employees are ...

Parks and Recreation on ‘Sexy’ Public Service

Leave it to a TV character to do what no actual politician has been able to accomplish in recent years: speak persuasively, even movingly, about the meaning and value of public service.

Last night, the NBC comedy Parks and Recreation finished its seven-year run, cementing its legacy as the most pro-government sitcom in the history of television. The last episode, like those before it this season, jumps ahead in time to various points in the future. It begins with the gang from a small city’s Parks Department getting together in 2017, before they all move on to new phases in their lives, to help fix a swingset at a local park.

Then, in a scene set eight years later, they all get back together for a reunion. The show’s central character, relentless do-gooder Leslie Knope, offers a toast to her former coworkers:

When we worked together, we fought, scratched and clawed to make people’s lives a tiny bit better. That’s what public service is all about -- small incremental change every day. Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Far and away the best prize life has to offer is a chance to work hard at work worth doing.” And ...

VA Employees Get Some Recognition at the Oscars

Employees at the Veterans Affairs Department’s suicide hotline were recognized at the Oscars Sunday, with a film about their work taking home the award for Best Documentary Short.

“Crisis Hotline: Veterans Press 1” -- a 40-minute documentary that first aired on HBO last year -- was given the Academy Award. Produced in association with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, the film highlights employees of VA’s suicide hotline in Canandaigua, N.Y.

In her acceptance speech, the film’s director, Ellen Goosenberg Kent, expressed her appreciation for the hotline workers.

"I want to thank the people at the crisis line who care for veterans as deeply as if their own lives depend on it," Kent said.

VA Secretary Bob McDonald also appreciated the shout out, both for his employees and the veterans they serve.

“We are pleased that this film has highlighted the challenges our veterans can face and the work of our dedicated Veterans Crisis Line staff to save lives and get veterans into care,” McDonald said. “We are hopeful that this documentary will help raise awareness of this important issue with the American public. Our veterans in crisis need to know that there is hope and asking for ...

Video: Fox Show Rips Feds, AFGE Chief on Valentine's Day

Fox News host David Asman brought together a panel on Valentine's Day to discuss the role of the federal government and government workers. It was hardly a love letter to feds, though. The panelists on the financial show Forbes on Fox apparently don't hold civil servants in high regard.

Asman began the segment with the debatable assertion "Even though they make a lot more than folks in the private sector . . ." before quoting J. David Cox, national president of the American Federation of Government Employees, from Eric Katz' recent story on GovExec.com

If I meet one more politician who tells me we need to tighten our belts, I’m going to take my belt off and I’m going to whoop his ass.

The quote, thankfully, was properly attributed to GovExec.com.

Asman then spoke to former presidential candidate, magazine publisher and noted small-government enthusiast Steve Forbes about the difference in compensation rates for public and private sector employees. Not surprising, nobody mentioned federal pay was frozen for three consecutive years before feds received a whopping 1 percent raise last year. 

Forbes cited Defense Department changes in personnel ratios, saying the federal government thinks "the bureaucratic army can ...