Gov Career

By Phil Piemonte

Blog archive

Out of sight, out of mind

Because we can’t bring ourselves to type the words “government shutdown” even one more time today, it seems like the right time to attack another subject. And that subject is…

The fourth Merit Systems Principle: High standards. Wait! — before you click the mouse away from this page — bear with us for a moment.

Remember when you were a Cub Scout or Brownie and had to take that pledge, whatever is was? The whole point of that exercise was to remind you that you were held to certain high standards — probably higher standards than most of the non-Scout kids you knew.

This principle has a scout sound to it, too: “All employees should maintain high standards of integrity, conduct and concern for the public interest.”

The Merit Systems Protection Board says that this principle “recognizes that public service is a public trust and that employees are obligated to honor that trust by respect for and adherence to the Constitution, laws, and ethical principles of government service.”

While some of that sounds highfalutin, a lot of the things that qualify as not adhering to high standards are rather pedestrian infractions that will get you fired at any job — public or private — such as being absent without leave, falsifying documents, criminal activity, misusing resources, etc.

But one MSPB statement on principle No. 4 caught our eye: “In order for an agency to accomplish its mission, its employees’ conduct must command the respect and confidence of the public.”

Depending on whom you listen to, the public may or may not be having a problem with the “respect and confidence” part of that right now.

Of course, thousands and thousands of feds go to their jobs every day without seeing anyone but other feds, and without interacting with members of the public. It's kind of hard to command the public’s respect and confidence when the public never sees you in action doing a conscientious, bang-up job day in, day out.

Maybe a government shutdown (darn, we said it again!) would help the public to better understand the important jobs you do.

Maybe it would make it a bit easier for you to command a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

And, of course, help you satisfy the fourth Merit Principle.

Posted on Apr 06, 2011 at 4:02 PM


Reader comments

Tue, Apr 12, 2011 Two Thoughts

I have two thoughts:
1)The character and integrity of the leaders or leader of the organization is reflected by or through the organization he (or they) leads. Unfortunately, no matter how hard you try, your reputation is affected by those who represent you or those who you represent, as seen by the public’s eye. The performance of the President and the Congress affects how people view their public employees. Hard as you might try you are not able to completely disassociate yourself from them. Their behavior has been appalling, we, unfortunately, are affected by that.
2)Budget wise I have always said the bill will come due much sooner than later. Our children and grand children will not have to pay …… we will. What you are watching is us having to pay the bills we thought someone else would pay. What is worse is those who we trusted to be responsible have proven themselves to be irresponsible and untrustworthy. (The saddest fact, the real truth of the matter, is, most of that we ourselves, as a nation of voters, own.)
3)See #1

Fri, Apr 8, 2011

This whole thing is going to have a domino effect. I know if I don't get paid, I won't be able to pay my financial obligations (bills). Or buy gas, groceries, etc. until such time I do get paid. In the meantime, my credit card interest rates will go up...again, because I was "late" making my payment. So much for getting my personal debt under control. Which is mostly caused by my spouse's government work-related injuries. Thank you DOL OWCP... We certainly have a wonderful example in our "leaders" in controlling debt, don't we? The local business community (non-government) will certainly feel at least some effect of this situation. Can anyone say "bankruptcy"? I guess if our government goes bankrupt everyone goes bankrupt. I'm sorry for whining, I know its unbecoming of a federal employee. Notice I didn't say the "sd" word...

Thu, Apr 7, 2011 nashville, tn

I'm a retired civil service employee. The pay freeze is not helpful. I remember the last govt shutdown. I was considered non-essential so I did not work. I was a home loan underwriter. I sold VA loans that had been foreclosed on and the lender was returning the property to the govt for the loan guaranty. We were not able to process the returned loan returned by lenders and assign them to a management broker so the propert could be secured repaired if necessary so we could put them on the market to sell to the public. The underwriting documents stacked up for the loans being processed. It took a while to catch up when we did go back to work.

Thu, Apr 7, 2011

How much of an impact is freezing the pay of Federal employees really going to have on the deficit? Compared to the HUGE amounts of money going out the door every day to private contractors with almost no oversight and the massive amount of money going to entitlement programs, freezing Federal employees' pay is peanuts. It is merely congress' cowardly pandering to the Tea Party idealism with no meaningful effect on the deficit while ignoring where the real money is going.

Thu, Apr 7, 2011

It is not our bosses in DC who don't respect us. It is the legislative branch who want the money that we are paid to go to some big business monopoly who don't respect the American people - us included.

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