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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 11-21-2005, 09:43 AM   #41
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Re: Stories from working in government

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I should have listened to the folks who had been working there for years.

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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 11-21-2005, 11:36 AM   #42
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Re: Stories from working in government

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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 11-21-2005, 01:02 PM   #43
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Re: Stories from working in government

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Originally Posted by grumpy
I think some of you who have been bashing public employees as lazy, incompetent, etc. are generalizing too much. Isn't it possible that the public employees who work hard and do their jobs competently just don't get noticed by the public? They may represent the vast majority of public employees. They try to do the best job they can within the constraints imposed by the structure of public agencies. I will grant you that all of my experience was in scientific and engineering federal agencies where the workforce was quite highly motivated. The "service" agencies with much more public contact have a higher chance of pissing off a tax payer and so get most of the bad rap.

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Grumpy, I can vouch for the many hard working engineers-scientists in DOE, DARPA, DOD, NSF, NIST and NASA. Did Phase I and II SBIR (small business innovation research) contracts with all these groups back in the 90's. Even have a couple of x-ray stress analyzers sitting at Wright Pat AFB still cranking out data. Also remember watching these people fight through their own red tape to make things happen. Maybe not noticed or appreciated by the general public but clearly appreciated by the scientific community.
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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 11-21-2005, 01:44 PM   #44
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Re: Stories from working in government

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Originally Posted by grumpy
I think some of you who have been bashing public employees as lazy, incompetent, etc. are generalizing too much.* Isn't it possible that the public employees who work hard and do their jobs competently just don't get noticed by the public?* They may represent the vast majority of public employees.* They try to do the best job they can within the constraints imposed by the structure of public agencies.* I will grant you that all of my experience was in scientific and engineering federal agencies where the workforce was quite highly motivated.* The "service" agencies with much more public contact have a higher chance of pissing off a tax payer and so get most of the bad rap.

* Grumpy
I am sure that scientists are mostly self motivated. They are to somebody in the Social Security Adminstration as*spec ops soldiers are to quartermasters. Really different type of motivational and reward structure.

Ha
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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 11-21-2005, 09:59 PM   #45
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Re: Stories from working in government

I have found these tributes to the government workers:

Thanks to the government worker that made sure my last flight landed safely.

Thanks to the government worker who enforced regulations that made sure I have a safe car with an airbag and seatbelt to drive in.

Thanks to the government worker who works in our local, state, and national parks to keep them clean and safe for my family to visit.

Thanks to the government worker who is trying to educate our children in the face of budget cuts and unfunded mandates.

Thanks to the government workers who investigate our elected officials when they think they are above the law.

Thanks to the government worker risks their life and their cover by protecting us from our enemies, despite the fact a politician wants to blow their cover for political retribution.

And thanks to all government workers who decided to serve their city, state or country for less money than they could have made in the private sector, only because they had a desire for public service
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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 11-22-2005, 12:09 PM   #46
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Re: Stories from working in government

After 20-something years as a mech/nuc engineer in gov't service, I'm pretty happy with my career path. What I discovered early on was this: As much responsibility as you're willing to take on, you'll be given it. Also found out that senior staff engineer is the best job; one step up into mgmt and you spend all your time in meetings and non-productive BS...
The stability you asked about has been there, in my case. We've been reorganized a couple of times but I've always made out well.

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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 11-24-2005, 06:24 AM   #47
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Re: Stories from working in government

To answer your question, I would definately choose a different career path, but there is a lot of security. I have to really mess up to be fired. My chosen career path does not pay what the job is worth for society, but it does have a decent retirement.

As far as politics goes, I don't get involved, unless it is so far removed from my job my opinions don't matter. I was working for the Feds and currently work for a city government.
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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 11-24-2005, 07:23 AM   #48
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Re: Stories from working in government

lets-retire said "I would really have to mess up to be fired." :P
I could write a book on the BS I have had to endure as a supervisor--this short story will suffice for an example.

When I was military, I had to supervise government employees. For the most part, they were good, hard working people. But I spent much of my time on two problem employees. One in particular was often late to work, called in sick, spent an inordinant amount of time on personal phone calls, and didn't have full command of the English language even though she was in a secretarial position.
She accused previous 6 male supervisors of sexual harassment i.e. "he told me to wear a tube top to work" to inappropriate touching. All of her accusations were unsubstantiated. What a freak. So enter the female supervisor (me).
I documented every infraction. Put her on the infamous "Performance Improvement Plan." Counseled her constantly. It got me charges that I was a racist ( she is Hispanic, you see, and I'm not). I swear I had a permanent parking place at the EEO building. I did worry if my own career would be ruined in my quest to remove a bad seed, but fortunately it was not.
Over the course of two years, I was unable to get her fired, but I was able to get her moved to another department. I know---I shoved the problem off on someone else. But at least my department was safe and the nightmare was over. I know my story is not unique.
I vowed to run screaming from government service employees as soon as I retired from the military.
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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 11-24-2005, 07:45 AM   #49
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Re: Stories from working in government

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Originally Posted by Leslie
lets-retire said "I would really have to mess up to be fired."* :P
I could write a book on the BS I have had to endure as a supervisor--this short story will suffice for an example.* *

When I was military, I had to supervise government employees.* For the most part, they were good, hard working people.* But I spent much of my time on two problem employees.* One in particular was often late to work, called in sick, spent an inordinant amount of time on personal phone calls, and didn't have full command of the English language even though she was in a secretarial position.*
She accused previous 6 male supervisors of sexual harassment i.e. "he told me to wear a tube top to work"* to inappropriate touching.* All of her accusations were unsubstantiated.* What a freak.* So enter the female supervisor (me).*
I documented every infraction.* Put her on the infamous "Performance Improvement Plan." Counseled her constantly.* It got me charges that I was a racist ( she is Hispanic, you see, and I'm not).* I swear I had a permanent parking place at the EEO building. I did worry if my own career would be ruined in my quest to remove a bad seed, but fortunately it was not.* *
Over the course of two years, I was unable to get her fired, but I was able to get her moved to another department.* I know---I shoved the problem off on someone else.* But at least my department was safe and the nightmare was over.* I know my story is not unique.* *
I vowed to run screaming from government service employees as soon as I retired from the military.*
This is but one reason that I knew from the start I could never work
in government.

JG
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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 11-24-2005, 08:28 AM   #50
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Re: Stories from working in government

Regarding getting someone fired or playing politics, the difference between the government and mega corporate is small. Difficult people and unmotivated people will always exist regardless of which organization or institution. You cannot escape from it unless you establish your own business. However, you will have a different set of problems, i.e., cash flow, difficult customers, bankers, regulators, etc.

The point is that working for the government is good for those who seek job security and great benefits. It is not for everyone.
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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 11-24-2005, 08:44 AM   #51
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Re: Stories from working in government

Our maxim was:* When the paperwork equals the employee's weight, you got 'em.* Then fire at will.* *
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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 11-24-2005, 09:06 AM   #52
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Re: Stories from working in government

I don't believe that it is as hard to fire someone in corporate America as it is in government...there is no more pampered, protected worker in the world as there is in our civil service system, regardless of their output/value to the "company." I cannot believe that MegaCorp would put up with the crap I had to endure.

I have more stories that would curl your teeth. And I am bitter about all of the wasted time I had with these idiots. Wish there was a device a la "Men in Black" that would have erased this from my psyche as I left the building for the last time!
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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 11-24-2005, 09:25 AM   #53
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Re: Stories from working in government

I can understand your frustrations. It's very very difficult to get rid of people in the government. That's one of the reasons that people would want to work for the government - security.
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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 11-24-2005, 11:19 AM   #54
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Re: Stories from working in government

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Originally Posted by Leslie
Over the course of two years, I was unable to get her fired, but I was able to get her moved to another department.* I know---I shoved the problem off on someone else.* But at least my department was safe and the nightmare was over.* I know my story is not unique.* *
I vowed to run screaming from government service employees as soon as I retired from the military.*
Oh, so you're the one-- thanks a lot!

Just kidding.

We had three situations like that. The first employee, oddly enough a GS-11 management manpower analyst, was unable to accomplish any of those three words. It dragged on for a number of years until our XO dug in his heels and went through the PIP/firing process. She "voluntarily" moved to another command and shocked us all by becoming quite the successful performer. It turned out that her family had not supported her work at all but the job change made them realize they needed her income and they began to help her with all the home stuff that had intruded on her job performance at our command. Long-term problems were finally confronted & resolved. So in a backhanded way it was a successful "firing".

Our second employee was the head of the IT department (GS-12) and a native Hawaiian. Quite articulate, appeared to be a successful member of the workforce & community & his church, knew his hardware & networks, and wasn't afraid to tell the emperor when he wasn't wearing any clothes. He & I got along like oil & vinegar but we eventually set aside our differences for common goals. We ended up respecting our abilities to get things done, despite the real SOBs we each knew the other was.

But apparently something was never quite right over the decade he was in the job, and finally during a command inspection an anonymous questionnaire led to allegations that eventually documented persistent sexual harassment & racial discrimination. His workplace environment was unbelievably hostile & coercive. The next six months' gender/race/religion cardplaying was impressively vicious-- especially when his lawyer started taking it to the local papers-- but eventually he "retired" (he was eligible) before the criminal indictment. (He actually had to be barred from the command and eventually the base.) Two of his subordinates became HR heroes for sticking to the process until it was completed. Suddenly all of that department's budget, personnel, & equipment problems disappeared. The improvement was like the sun coming out after the hurricane.

Our third was a GS-5 in the admin office. An enlisted submarine veteran and brand-new civil service employee, he seemed to be doing fine until other commands began notifying our XO about his behavior. It turned out that he'd chew out anyone over the phone-- just like when he was running the submarine mess decks, with similar language-- if he felt they weren't doing what he was sure his XO wanted them to do RIGHT NOW. Eventually he was confronted with a tape recording of his behavior and was actually released from federal civil service at the end of his probationary period. He moved to a state admin position and has been quite successful. He's advanced a few paygrades, finished his bachelor's & master's degrees, made chief petty officer in the Reserves and been selected for commissioning, married a nice woman & fathered two kids, and he's a great friend of our family. He didn't appreciate that first firing one bit but realized that his behavior had to change, and he turned it into a positive lesson.

The key was having an XO who was pumped up by his staff to agree that something had to be done, who was personally annoyed affected by the problem, and who had the help of the local HR & legal staff to pull the string all the way to its end. Our XO was a PITA at times but he was very good at pursuing a process to a conclusion. If the PIP/firing seems worth doing, then it can be done and should be. The reward is that the rest of the workforce appreciates the "improvement" and will support the command that much more. And if anyone was beginning to contemplate similar behavior, they either change or transfer soon afterwards...
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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 11-24-2005, 01:05 PM   #55
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Re: Stories from working in government

Hey Nords, those stories actually warm my heart--especially the GS-5 one. I have just never seen the system actually work before...glad not everyone had to pull their last hair out like I did.

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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 11-24-2005, 06:32 PM   #56
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Re: Stories from working in government

From what I know right now the gov is short qualified people in many areas and will have a very hard time filling positions in the next decade. Many of us are retiring as soon as we can.

There are some good benefits, the new retirement system had some very good features if one uses them well. I have found most new employees don't use the features well or don't use it at all. Why? they have not been educated in personal financial matters and think they cannot afford to invest in their own retirement plan.

As for the stories the good and bad are true. There are some wonderful hard working loyal gov. workers who make working for the gov a wonderful experience. There are others that play the system for all it is worth. In the end the job gets done. Somebody gets it done.

I could relate how many "tax payers" are caught stealing, cheating, law breaking, falsifying, bullshiting to get their way and don't give a damn about anything but themselves. There has not been a day that I have worked for the gov. that some taxpayer hasn't lied to me.

So, once in a while I have been able to set the "dears" straight. When someone lies to or cheats the gov. they are not cheating me they are cheating stealing from you the taxpayer and me the taxpayer. I catch 'em. Sometimes they pay a fine sometimes they do time. It doesn't make me feel any better as the next phone call may have another liar on it.

After decades of this I do not have a high regard for the public. I have had them tell me I will get fired or be sued and in one case I was threatened with being killed. I had to carry a concealed weapon at all times after that deal! I have also been seriously injured on the job by crooks, once I was out for seven painful months.

Yup, I am going to miss all that good soft secruity stuff, no more midnights in the cold wind and rain and or snow, no more threats, no more demeaning remarks about my integrity from crooks and liars, no more wondering what the politicians will want me to do, with less, no more being thought less of because I work for the gov instead of working for some corp. Yup, going to miss it.

Kitty

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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 11-24-2005, 08:26 PM   #57
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Re: Stories from working in government

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right now the gov is short qualified people

Kitty

I think they have to hire them (vertically challenged).

JG
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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 12-20-2005, 11:22 PM   #58
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Re: Stories from working in government

I am in Gov. Research. The last 5 years I have been in middle management (the price for being good at one job is to be shoved into another). Most people I work with are great. But the few that are bad, tend to be real bad. At my location we have several. All of them have not done any work in 5-10 years. And that is not even the problem. The real problem is that they either prevent others from getting work done or are a threat to the safety of the facility. A month ago one of them wrecked a truck after driving off the side of a road that they were instructed not to be on! The person got a stern talk. Largely why I quit management.

I see the same thing as Kitty. I see our best people retiring rather than enduring an increasingly disfunctional management.

mike
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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 12-21-2005, 05:09 AM   #59
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Re: Stories from working in government

For the last few years I have been under Military managers. Not all have been perfect, but on the whole, they are better managers than their civilian counterparts. Some differences I see are:
1. They are dedicated to the programs, productivity and products.
2. They are stern and yet polite as long as an employee is cooperative, productive and dedicated.
3. They can make decisions and expect cooperation once the decision is made.
4. (This should be number 1) They can accomplish in a 10 minute meeting what it takes some civilian managers all day to not accomplish.
5. They are better at teaming contractor and civil service workers.
6. Since I am in a Research, Engineering and Development organization, they are very knowledgeable, quick learners and clear thinkers.

Nothing is ever perfect but it is a relief to have management that runs on jet fuel instead of gas.
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Re: Stories from working in government
Old 12-21-2005, 10:13 AM   #60
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Re: Stories from working in government

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Nothing is ever perfect but it is a relief to have management that runs on jet fuel instead of gas.
The corporations I work with love it when they find a former military manager on the recruiting short list.
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