Real-World, Action-Oriented and Outside the Beltway

On Dec. 31, 1996, I will have completed almost 30 years of service to the American people. During my career, I have been honored by being chosen by my federal peers to serve as chairman of federal executive boards in two different locations, Los Angeles and Oklahoma City. I also have been active in boards in several other locations. My experience has provided me with a network of fellow public administrators unavailable in any single agency or department. I have developed a greater appreciation for the scope and quality of services we provide the American people.

We federal workers have been shaken by much turbulence in recent years. There are plans to reduce our number, plans to close entire departments, budgets that make it impossible to sustain crucial programs, negative press and irresponsible rhetoric from all sectors. This year we found ourselves held hostage between the warring branches of government. The personal benefit of being a public servant is no longer what it once was nor what we anticipated when we joined the federal government. Our retirement, health, and overall benefit packages are under attack. Even our physical security is of concern as the tragic bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building attests.

Accordingly, I believe federal executive boards are more important than ever. The boards can speak with a unified voice. We can talk to our congressional representatives and their staffs, letting our concerns be known. We can gain an audience with significant media outlets and talk up federal successes. Through the National Performance Review, we have had good listeners inside the Clinton Administration willing to seek our input. However, the boards are more than information sharing and federal executives collaborating. The boards are real-world, outside-the-Beltway, action-oriented entities.

The April 19, 1995, tragic bombing of the Oklahoma City Murrah federal building is living testimony of the importance of the boards. When the dust settled from the explosion, our board's director, LeAnn Jenkins, rolled up her sleeves and went into action. The board staff knew all of the agencies in the Murrah building, the home telephone numbers of critical staff, the city, county and state principals in Oklahoma City, and which federal agencies were available to provide immediate relief and support. However, of greater importance was the reaching out, touching, caring and support provided to the victims and families of those lost in this tragedy.

I use every public speaking opportunity to discuss how I feel about being a federal employee. I tell the audience I don't have to work for the federal government. I am an airline transport pilot with more than 10,000 flight hours and I hold five academic degrees. I work for the American people because I believe in public service. I challenge you to speak out. If we federal executives will not speak out, who will? If the federal executive boards don't carry the federal employee banner, who will?

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