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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.

A New Low for Trust Numbers


How many Americans trust the federal government to do the right thing? About one in 10, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll.

The survey found that an almost unfathomable 89 percent of Americans say they distrust government to do the right thing. Almost three fourths say the country is on the wrong track and 84 percent disapprove of Congress. President Obama's approval rating stands at 46 percent.

Those are dangerously low numbers. First and foremost, they are a reflection of the country's lousy and stagnant economic condition. The distrust is aimed mostly in the direction of politicians on both sides of the aisle.

But the poll results have major implications for the people who work in government, too. Members of the political class will work overtime to make "bureaucrats" the scapegoats for much of what the public perceives as the failures of government. Career officials will have fewer defenders, and support for the work they do in the form of budget and personnel resources will become harder and harder to come by.

Unless something changes dramatically in the country's economic and political condition, very dark days are ahead.

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

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