The Trump effect on your job

If you’re an outsider who is genuinely interested in how federal workers are holding up since the inauguration, you ought to be confused by now. If you mostly depend on one source (liberal leaning cable news channels), or read (and believe) one newspaper over another, you may think the government is in turmoil. That rank-and-file federal workers dread getting up and going to work. That morale is lower than a whale’s belly. One Washington radio station has even been covering “The Trump Effect” on the Nation’s Capital, including whether it has made dating (as in boy meets girl, boy meets boy, etc.) even more difficult.

If you read or watch more conservative news outlets, you will see an entirely different picture. Like life on another planet. You will think things are going rather well here inside the Beltway and outside of reality. And you may feel that any bureaucrats get bent, folded or mutilated (in a career sense) in the process of draining the swamp, so be it. So the other day we asked readers what was really going on at their shops: Is it United We Stand or Divided We Snarl?

Wham. We hoped for a lot of responses. And we got them. Plus size. Here’s some ‘ground truth’ not from editorial writers, columnists and broadcasters but from federal offices around the country:

“Please do Not  use my name.  You asked how things are in the post-Trump office. At my place most people are fine. However there are two women and two men who make no bones of being solid Democrats.  Fine.  Except during Bush’s last year, one brought a countdown clock to track how many days, weeks, hours he had left in office.  Noboby batted an eyelash.  Then one of the men who is a very good dresser came to work wearing a red ball cap with the letter ‘W’ on it.  She went bats—! She complained he was violating the Hatch Act wearing it to the office. Or boss took her aside and quietly explained the red curly ‘W’ is a Washington Nationals baseball team hat. I say this because  I consider myself a Bill Maher progressive and I agree with him that lots of liberals cannot accept results if things don’t go their way.”  — B.B.

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“I read your column daily and thanks for the good work.

“My morale is just fine and if anything, more optimistic under the new administration. I do take umbrage at the recurrent urban myth of ‘Feds looking at pornography for six hours a day at work.’ As a military doctor, this is not only illegal and unthinkable, but I would be more likely to get away with raising a herd of goats in my office than to escape detection from the cyber folks. Some of these legislators need to get their own house (or House) in order and fix some real problems.” — T.P. in Missouri

“Hi Mike!  I have been a civil servant for 34 years now (mostly IRS).  I am not a bargaining unit employee being represented by the National treasury Employees Union, but I work closely with the union and I have a good working relationship with them and their constituents because I try my best to be fair and do what makes the most business sense for all.  Yes, morale is low and only because most of us are overworked, frustrated and spread thinner than a sheet of copy paper.  When we took the Oath of Office, we ‘did solemnly swear that we would well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office of which we entered and we have done that, faithfully.’ Most of the people that I work with and interact with on a daily basis are decent, hardworking individuals who still believe in that oath.  Most of the issues we face today is the huge disconnect between headquarters and the field.  Back in the ‘good old days’ before an executive made it to Washington, they worked in trenches (field) — where the real work is done, then made their way to a regional office, then a service center, then Washington. They understood the work and the why. Now, we have all these executives trying to keep us afloat, but they don’t understand the work we do in the trenches. They’ve forgotten that “service” is in our name. They don’t understand the importance or the hoops that we continue to jump through to get the job done and serve the American taxpayers. They visit large offices with thousands of employees who have the luxury of resources available to them (like secretaries!).  They never visit a small office with no managers or supports on site, yet who have to perform the same duties as those in a large office, except add to that all the secretarial duties. It’s hard to provide stellar customer service when you’re span of control has nearly tripled; when you can’t hire even a secretary or fill behind a retirement. We’ve already let so much historical knowledge walk out the door retiring in frustration. I’ll admit, we are not a popular agency, but it’s really not our fault.  What most taxpayers don’t understand is that we don’t make the tax laws — those men and women that they vote for are making all these changes to the tax code. Our employees that work on the tax side are merely trying to implement. It doesn’t stop the fact that all the frustration and hatred is directed towards us — the employees. It’s a very frustrating time for all feds right now. We continue to provide the best customer service that we can, but it 10 times harder than it used to be — when you constantly have to do more with less.” — Sign me: Remember When

“I am a longtime federal worker (Bush 1, Clinton, Bush 2, Obama, & Trump). Our budget has not really changed. Every president brings in political appointees who know nothing about how government works. That upsets people, but everyone calms down after a while. Trump does not seem any different in that regard than the rest of them. That is what I tell my younger coworkers who seem very worked up about it all. There is nothing to worry about if you have a defined role regarding public safety (security) or public health. That sadly does not include global warming, but the rest of us seem safe.” — Career Civil Servant

“Not a whole lot of change of morale to this office due to the election outcome, with one exception:  I have a buddy who insists that the primary was stolen from Bernie Sanders  via the superdelegates.  And, he asks, just what is so democratic about superdelegates?

“What with today’s statement from Agriculture Department Secretary Perdue, outlook may well improve since the secretary announced he plans no RIFs for agriculture.

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“Thanks for the writeup today; it reminds me to get the caffeine flowing.” — Grumpy before coffee

More to come?  You bet!

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

Emperor Augustus established the state-run Cursus Publicus courier service in the first century.

Source: Wikipedia