Only 1 percent of workforce is screwing up at any given moment, president estimates.
President Obama declared Thursday that 99 percent of federal employees are not boneheads.
"Are there some federal workers who do some boneheaded things? Absolutely,” Obama said at a town hall meeting in Minneapolis, Politico reported.
The president recalled something that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates told him: “One thing you should know, Mr. President, is that at any given moment on any given day, somebody in the federal government is screwing up.” That, said Obama, is "is true because there are 2 million employees … If 99 percent of the folks are doing the right thing and only 1 percent aren’t, that’s still a lot of people.”
Gates' remarks clearly made an impression on Obama. In Sept. 2012, he also noted publicly that "at any moment in the federal government, there will be people who do dumb things."
The 1 percent principle of boneheadedness probably puts the federal government on par with any other large organization. Of course, it also means that at any particular point in time, in some corner of government, somebody is doing something like pooping in the hallway.