Uncle Sam is hiring

Is there any such thing as a golden age for government workers? Is it possible? Could it be now? With you right smack in the middle?

Is there any such thing as a golden age for government workers? Is it possible? Could it be now? With you right smack in the middle?

I asked because earlier this week, I saw a large poster ad on the back of a Metro bus advertising job openings at the Food and Drug Administration. Then another one inside the Metrorail (subway) car the next day. Odd? Uh, yes!

As long as I’ve been here—decades—I have never seen a sign like that. A sign on a bus or subway train car. Ever.

We’ve already survived a once-in-a-lifetime world pandemic. Things have changed big time. Some are temporary.  Others, that we don’t know about, probably forever kind of changes.

We have are part of the transition between the two most polar opposite presidents in American history. Trump to Biden.

And gone through 14 months of masks, shots, zoom conferences.  Fear. And angst. 

You’d expect lots of changes between 2020 and 2021. Revolutionary rather than evolutionary changes.  But this…

Who knew? Who could have imagined?

And one of the strangest of all is a shortage of government workers. In a nation that was born suspicious of government many of us have new heroes.  Bureauicrats (in another time) like Dr. Fauci.  Initials, like the CDC, that actually mean something. Something good to many if not most people. Who knew we’d ever see it. People who have always had heroic, life-saving and sometimes life threatening job—who are suddenly recognized. Applauded in public. Listened too. Appreciated. 

Unreal. Deserved, but unreal.

The Washington Post last week ran a lengthy page one story about the problems agencies have in replacing federal talent that left (the Post says they were driven out) by the Trump administration. Whether you buy that are not, the White House under previous management did have problems with the Pentagon, the CIA, the FDC, the CDC, Interior, CPSC and Agriculture.  Some because of personnel.  Some because of the agency mission. But the bottom line is that lots of people left. Quit or retired.

And it wasn’t the Retirement Tsunami.  The tidal wave of retirements, the massive brain drain that some “experts” have been predicting and projecting since the late 1990s.  That hasn’t happened yet. 

 Worse than the Tsunami that would include all feds at all levels the current shortage of people— people with the right stuff—as well documented in The Post article. It has an agency by agency count, which coming at what we hope is the end of the COVID-era, is frightening.  Because we are not out of the woods yet. And there is China and Russia to deal with in an ever-changing world. Climate change is cited daily for too much rain, or not enough. For calving icebergs. For sea level rise. Fires from the American west to Australian outback. Problem’s that Army or even foreign aid can solve. Problems that only the best of the best, working for the federal government, can solve. Maybe. Or at least contain.

So if you are thinking about checking out, consider why you joined the public service in the first place. It probably wasn’t for the money. Or the TSP (which maybe didn’t exist). Job security; sure. But why not? The only thing worse than tenure is the political spoils system.  And feds can and do get fired with regularity.

Higher calling sounds a little corny. But if it turns out that’s true, and taxpayers are starting to realize that, what’s the harm?

Maybe you showed up, and signed up, at the right time! I hope so. For all of us!!!

 

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