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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.
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A Gray Day Outside OPM: Employees React to Agency's Diminished Role Under Reorganization Plan

Employees at the Office of Personnel Management appeared glum on this rainy, gray Friday, the day after the Trump administration unveiled a wide-reaching reorganization plan that would slice OPM into pieces.

In lunch hour on-the-street interviews with Government Executive, the few who agreed to speak said many employees were worried about the plan that calls for transferring OPM’s security clearance functions to the Pentagon, its insurance and retirement benefits services to the General Services Administration, and its employee services functions to political appointees at the White House.

“From their facial expressions and body language, I could tell people were upset,” said one.

“People were shocked,” said a paralegal in the retirement division. But mostly “they want to make sure their job is not affected.”

Another OPM paralegal said: “Mr. Trump is being true to his words about draining the swamp. However, I don’t think it’s feasible or sensible. GSA hasn’t done a very good job of managing their own responsibilities. OPM’s responsibilities are multi-faceted, so moving them would bring more bureaucracy and more waste.”

This employee approved of some of the plan’s streamlining ideas, particularly in reducing information technology redundancies. “But we don’t...

It’s Hard to Kill an Agency, But Renaming One Is a Different Matter

The Trump administration’s long-promised plan to reorganize the executive branch may soon be out, according to a Wednesday report in Politico. The plan reportedly includes a major shake-up at the Health and Human Services Department, where the White House intends to consolidate safety-net programs for Americans in need. What’s more, the administration wants to change the name of the department to reflect the new responsibilities:

It’s unclear exactly how HHS would be reshuffled, but sources said its new name would emphasize programs that provide assistance to low-income Americans, potentially restoring the term “welfare” to the title of the department.

If it occurs, it wouldn’t be the first time an administration (and Congress) changed the name of an agency. HHS itself sprang from the Department of Education, Health and Welfare, which was created under President Eisenhower in 1953. (It was christened the Department of Health and Human Services in 1980, after the 1979 Department of Education Organization Act created a separate Department of Education.)

If history is any guide, it could take the public years to adjust to a new name. Take our quiz and test your knowledge of other department name changes:

How NSA Motivated Employees to Keep Secrets in the 50s and 60s

The National Security Agency is well-known for its surveillance programs, counterintelligence and role in the post-Edward Snowden discourse. Lesser known, perhaps, are the motivational posters the agency has developed to discourage employees from leaking secrets.

Transparency group Government Attic in 2016 sent a Freedom of Information Act request to NSA that was fulfilled Monday for "security/motivational posters from the 1950s and 1960s." And what a haul it uncovered.

From zeitgeisty illustrations of flower children to other era-appropriate designs, the motivational posters show a whimsy and cultural savvy that might come as a surprise. Below are some examples, but be sure to check out more than 100 others uncovered by Government Attic.

Even spies need to check in with a separate office to talk travel.

Work-life balance was paramount, even in the 1950s.

The Soviets were never far from the minds of those during the Cold War.

A new decade means new posters.

Make sure to keep classified information under your hat.

Even one of the most famous pieces of art gets the NSA treatment.

Security and resource management go hand-in-hand.

"Private problem / public menace," indeed.

Another substance issue is presented in a poster.

A variation on "Loose lips sink...

No, You Shouldn't Roast Marshmallows Over a Volcano Vent

Kudos to the scientists and staff at the U.S. Geological Survey for keeping the public informed about the eruption of Hawaii's Kīlauea Volcano. The agency's information response—including video and photo updates—offers a great example of how to educate people about complex scientific activities. The social media team also set up a Facebook page to answer questions about the ongoing volcanic activity. And @USGS Volcanoes, which apparently operates under the belief that there is no such thing as a stupid question, has been keeping the Twitterverse updated as well:  

A ‘Bureau’-cratic Debate Over an Agency’s Official Name

Mick Mulvaney, the acting director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (when he’s not occupied with his other job, running the Office of Management and Budget), has a bone to pick about the name of the agency he’s heading up on an interim basis.

"I don't know why we call it the CFPB,” he told a House panel earlier this month. “That is not the name of the organization. The organization is the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection."

Legally, Mulvaney is correct. It’s right there in the statute creating CFPB—err, BCFP: “There is established in the Federal Reserve System, an independent bureau to be known as the 'Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection,' which shall regulate the offering and provision of consumer financial products or services under the Federal consumer financial laws.”

But that bureau, since its creation in 2010, has not been known as the BCFP, but rather as CFPB—possibly to emphasize its consumer protection mission rather than its bureaucratic status. The name is all over the agency’s website and reflected in its logo on official documents.

But that’s changing: In March, the bureau unveiled a new seal incorporating the official name...