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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.

Lawmaker Encourages Americans to ‘Thank a Fed’

When it comes to improving the civil service, Congress generally waits until something breaks, and then makes a haphazard attempt to repair it.

Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., is looking to change that dynamic by creating the “Thank a Fed” initiative. The long-time federal employee advocate created an email address this week -- ThankAFed@mail.house.gov -- and encouraged his constituents and others to send in examples of government working well.

Whether it’s a Social Security Administration employee who “worked tirelessly to process benefits for a loved one” or an agency that displayed “impressive operational efficiency” in delivering services, Connolly wants to hear about it.

“By sharing interactions and experiences,” Connolly said, “Americans can help Congress identify efficiencies, best practices, and incorporate lessons learned to improve agency performance across the federal government.”

Those practices and lessons could then be scaled up and replicated at other agencies, Connolly said.

Connolly announced the initiative as part of Public Service Recognition Week. In a newsletter to his constituents, the congressman called feds “the face of America here at home and around the globe.”

“Please know I will continue to fight in Congress to stand up for our neighbors who dedicate their life to public...

Obama to Public Servants: Thanks, and Sorry Things Have Been So Tough For You

As President Obama enters the home stretch of his administration, he seems determined to acknowledge that federal employees have been through a lot during his time in office.

This weekend, in a proclamation recognizing Public Service Recognition Week, Obama said today’s committed civil servants must overcome a lot of obstacles to succeed. “Despite tough circumstances -- including pay freezes, budget cuts, sequestration and a political climate that too often does not sufficiently value their work -- these exceptional leaders continue to make real the fundamental truth that people who love their country can change it,” he said.

In his proclamation, the president said today’s federal employees carry on the work of the Founding Fathers: “From the moment an early band of patriots first came together to secure the blessings of liberty for all, public servants have worked to create a more perfect union,” he declared.

Today’s civil servants, Obama said, “are scientists and teachers, social workers and first responders -- they are the leaders of today's progress and the innovators of tomorrow's breakthroughs. With determination and resolve, they defend our country overseas and work to widen the circle of opportunity and prosperity here at home.”

Obama also declared...

Journalist Badmouths Two Administrations' Treatment of Whistleblowers

The New York Times' James Risen, who recently was spared threatened prosecution by the Justice Department for refusing to reveal his source for some classified information on operations inside Iran, had some tough words on Wednesday for both the Obama and George W. Bush administrations.

Risen, speaking to hundreds from the podium at the National Press Club to receive the Ridenhour Prize for courage, said, “We in the press have to speak out against the Obama administration’s crackdown on whistleblowers.”  People often ask Risen whether the Obama team “is really that bad” given that “they are liberals,” he said.

“I feel like they must not have been paying attention,” Risen said. “My friends have said the difference between the Bush and Obama administrations on the war on terror is that the Bush people believed in what they were doing.” The Obama people, by contrast, whatever their motives, Risen said, “feel bad about it.”

The Problem With Media and Government, in a Nutshell

The latest issue of Politico Magazine focuses on the media and its relationship to the Washington power structure. The magazine’s “Last Word” section elicits responses from White House reporters to a series of statements, including this one: “I wish White House reporters would do a better job of…”

Scott Horsley of NPR responded with the following:

Following up on the mechanics of governing, recognizing that it’s difficult, and that problems are simply there to be fixed, not scandals to expose, demand firings for and then ignore.


(Image via wellphoto/Shutterstock.com)

A Guide to Getting the Most From Your People

It’s no secret that managing the federal workforce is a major challenge these days. While workers continue to report that they believe their work is important and satisfying, Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey results show that morale is suffering from years of budget cuts and pay freezes. What’s worse, employees’ faith that their leaders are maintaining high standards of ethics and integrity is declining.

The good news is that there are a series of actions that federal managers, agency leaders and political overseers can take to boost government’s performance and get the most out of its workforce. Howard Risher, who has managed compensation consulting practices for two national firms and has written four books on pay and performance, lays out some of the options in a new Government Executive ebook, Managing the Workforce.

The ebook is divided into five chapters:

  • Performance Anxiety: A trusting work environment can offset many challenges.
  • Model Behavior: Great places to work are built on respect and clear communication.
  • Think Strategically: A good HR department can take an organization to the next level.
  • Pay Reform: It’s time to rethink the General Schedule.
  • Accountability Matters: Successful organizations require strong management.

Download your copy of...