Holiday workers: Having the right stuff

What kind of person does it take to muster the right stuff to go into outer space, to explore the depths of the ocean, to explore the Amazon jungle in search of a medical miracle, or to work the week between the Christmas and New Year’s holiday?

( Full disclosure: I took the week off. Came in one day, realized why I hadn’t come in the other days and went back home.)

The December 23 column, “Village of the Darned” proclaimed that the two toughest times in government offices were the last steamy weeks in August and the period between Christmas and New Year’s. That prompted a number of folks to explain why they would be manning (or womaning) their duty stations during the holiday. Among the explanations/alibis:

  • “I am in one of those 24/7 operations. I monitor certain activities. Holidays are prime time when our ‘customers’, i.e., the persons of interest we watch are likely to act up. If they do, it could be really bad. Our job is to make sure they do not act up. For us, no noise is good news!” Hank
  • “Working during a holiday time frame is not so bad. The commute is easy. Parking is easier. It is much easier to concentrate and get things done. The flow of e-mail drops dramatically and you can actually do more of what you are paid to do, namely, work.” Angie of the IRS
  • “You forgot one group of people. You said the week between Christmas and New Year’s is when offices are largely staffed by people who are either 1). Essential to the health, safety or security of the nation 2). workaholics 3). Avoiding visiting in-laws 4).Those damned to work because they ran out of sick or annual leave, but you forgot another group: those new to federal service who don’t have a choice…” Alina J. Johnson

Leaky pay freeze


When Congress decided to freeze white collar federal pay (2011 and 2012) it thought that was the end of the story. What members failed to take into account are the semi-automatic within grade (WIG) raises most workers get every one, two or three years. Thanks to the WIGs federal pay, even though frozen, went up an average of 1.3 percent during the fiscal year that ended in September, 2011, according to data reported by USA Today. It is one of a number of media outlets that have reported that federal workers are paid MORE than their private-sector counterparts. Government data, however, continues to show feds in most jobs earn LESS than people doing the same jobs outside government.


By Jack Moore

A pair of self-professed time travelers (official term: chrononauts) claim President Barack Obama and the head of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Regina Dugan, were part of a secret CIA time-traveling mission to Mars in the 1980s, Wired reports.


Will 2012 be the year agencies focus on succession planning?
Pressure is growing on agencies to draft formal succession plans. There’s good reason to believe more feds retired in late 2011 than in recent years, although the final count is not yet out.

Air Force announces second round of buyouts, early retirements
The Air Force has announced a second round of buyouts and early retirements affecting the service’s civilian employees.

Facial recognition technology poses privacy concerns
Facial recognition is becoming a bigger part of law enforcement and homeland security. It’s also growing in the commercial sector, which has all kinds of privacy and ID misuse implications. That’s why the Federal Trade Commission recently held a workshop to explore the issues.