Life after Trump: Is there any?

Despite widespread reports of massive post-Trumpian depression among federal government workers, could it be that civil servants in most places continue to do their jobs and, like the rest of us, wonder what’s next?

Washington has sometimes been called the City of the Worried Well. Why? Because it’s what we do. Worry? We thrive on problems and crises, both real and imagined. Most of us non-feds who live and work here depend, to some degree, on the federal government.

We’ve got it pretty nice in Beltway land, where most of the great museums are free to us, thanks to taxpayers in Des Moines, Phoenix and points north, south, east and west. Our long-neglected once-best-in-the-land subway system is under badly-needed repair, but it will be back. With your help.

The Washington Post, probably read by more federal government workers everywhere than any other newspaper, has added the line: “Democracy dies in darkness” under the front-page masthead. While different people probably have different definitions, to some it is unsettling, to say the least.

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Is the hiring freeze, now in its 34th working (or non-working) day really slowing productivity in federal offices? Is the threat of what will (might) be in the new budget introducing fear in the workforce? We asked feds on the front/firing line what they thought. How things are going. We got these responses yesterday and Friday:

A worker who identified herself as a career professional at the Internal Revenue Service said:

“In my experience, most feds I have encountered are not tripping about the new administration. At least, not where our careers are concerned. Not yet. For now, it’s business as usual. We do our jobs to the best of our abilities every workday. This president has been no more critical and impacting on feds than many other prior administrations. Matter of fact, as a boomer in the FERS/TSP, feds are seeing a little trickle-down under this new administration as a result of good market activity. Most boomers stayed in the CS system. I chose not to and am quickly approaching the 500 club. There may be a slight uptick in work for some even though it is filing season, and there is less in the way of monetary award for outstanding work. However, there are other incentives that more than make up the difference for those who choose to take advantage of them. Regardless of who is in the White House, feds are true patriots who remain steady, consistent and committed to getting the job done for the American taxpayer. “

From the Patent and Trademark Office, this comment:

“No issues at the USPTO regarding morale here, Mike. All just fake news from our perspective. Of course we are fully user fee funded and do not take tax dollars and patents/trademarks do not have the same level of politicization as the other agencies you’ve mentioned in your article. Thanks for the TSP articles last week. They got a lot of us talking about adjusting our investments and ignoring all the solicitations to move funds out of the TSP.”

Finally, from the Interior’s Bureau of Land Management, where a long time employee said:

CIO shakeup at Treasury sign of similar moves at other agencies?

“The general mood is a little nervous over potential budget cuts, but my directorate manages energy, minerals, and realty so we expect to have (relatively) good support, although it is likely we will have to do more with less (but that is not new). We are also relieved to have Secretary Zinke, especially compared to some of the earlier possible candidates. Hopefully our director will philosophically be similar.”

“The current freeze and CR (continuing resolution) are hindering some of our work. I work at headquarters in D.C., so we tend to have a lot of senior staff that are past or nearing retirement age (I have been eligible for almost eight years) and also up-and-coming staff and managers that are putting time in the Washington Office before moving back to the field. So we have a lot of turnover. Historically it seems to take a long time to fill vacancies and often have people come in on details to temporarily fill these (especially with temporary promotions). The freeze is limiting our ability to do this and will really start to hurt soon. I oversee a number of automation projects that will make us more efficient and enable better customer service. This includes enabling us to lease more federal minerals and to process permits and right-of-ways faster, all stated goals of the administration. The freeze and the CR are already seriously impacting these projects.

Yes, things are on edge with the usual impediments that occur during a change of administrations. If there is fear, it is fear of the unknown. I am sure I would feel differently if I worked for EPA!!!”

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Jory Heckman

The Nobel Peace Prize cannot be awarded posthumously. As a result, the prize was not awarded in 1948 because there was “no suitable living candidate,” following the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi.

Source: Wikipedia