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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.

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 ...

Lesson for Congress: Don’t Mess With VA’s Bob McDonald

Note to lawmakers: Don’t try grandstanding on issues of accountability with Veterans Affairs Secretary Bob McDonald. He’ll dish it right back.

At a hearing on VA’s budget this week, Rep. Mike Coffman, R-Colo., accused McDonald of “glossing over” problems at the department—specifically problems at a Denver VA hospital “hundreds of millions of dollars over budget and years behind schedule.”

“I firmly believe that at the end of the day, at the end of this presidential term, that you will not have made a difference in changing the culture of this organization by virtue of the fact that you continue to gloss over its problems,” Coffman said.

But the normally genial McDonald wasn’t having it.

“I’m offended by your comments,” McDonald said. “I’ve been here six months. You’ve been here longer than I have. If there’s a problem in Denver I think you own it more than I do.”

And McDonald was just getting started. Watch the full clip here:

Update: Coffman struck back in a Facebook post Wednesday afternoon. Future hearings should be very interesting.  

On ‘Parks and Recreation,’ the Joke’s on the Feds

NBC’s Parks and Recreation, arguably the most pro-government sitcom in the history of television, is going out with a bang this year. And in the process, intentionally or not, it is presenting the federal government in a hilarious -- if not always accurate -- fashion.

For those who haven’t been following the show, its central character, Leslie Knope, has made the jump from local government in Pawnee, Ind., to a position at the National Park Service. On last night’s episode, Leslie got an opportunity to move even higher up the ranks at the Interior Department:

There’s a lot to unpack in that 30 seconds of video. Let’s take a closer look.

“We’d like to promote you to deputy director of operations at Interior,” says the official who offers her the job. But there is no deputy director of operations at Interior. (There is a deputy secretary, who serves as the department’s chief operating officer. Maybe that’s the job they had in mind. But that’s quite a leap from a Park Service regional office position.)

“You’d have to move to D.C.,” the official says, “and you’d have to complete the Senior ...