Cushy Government Job? Not Anymore

The concept of performance management is coming to the public sector and that is wonderful.

At the end of 2017, there were 16,000 fewer federal employees. The President has been vocal about reducing the size of the federal workforce and it appears some agency heads are taking it seriously and not filling vacant positions. An analysis done by Reason asserts we would need similar cuts for the next nine years to reach pre-Obama employment levels, but we are headed in the right direction.

Now it seems the administration is poised to make even more drastic changes to the civil service workforce. According to the Washington Examiner proposals are being made to make public sector employment look a lot more like how employees are managed in the private sector.

Taking a page from cutting edge employers such as Google and Amazon, a whole host of proposals are being made to drag the federal behemoth into the 21st century. Imagine a federal government where the best employees are rewarded with better raises and bonuses. Where outdated work structures like managers having secretaries and forms in triplicate are no longer the norm.

One where underperforming and poor performing employees are counseled and not rewarded. Perhaps even *gasp* made available to the market. You know, like the rest of us. One where benefits like vacation and healthcare don't outpace the private sector by nearly 50%. And where you can't just not come to work and collect your full salary for six months before you retire because you have banked 20 years worth of vacation.

According to the Examiner several proposals are being made and they have bipartisan support to make the legal changes required to reform the workforce. Some of the proposals they list are:

  • Creation of a bonus pool to reward good employees.
  • An end to so-called “step increases,” pay hikes of 3 percent to 5 percent that 99.7 percent of federal workers get even if they are poor performers.
  • Changes to the overall pay package, with a focus on generous retirement benefits, that align federal pay to the private world.
  • Retraining of employees.
  • Redeploying workers where they are needed.

In plain English this means things like eliminating pensions and placing federal employees in 401K plans. Retraining people in outdated functions or whose job can be easily replaced by technology. Rewarding those to do a good or excellent job better than those who do not.

These agencies are paid for with taxpayer dollars. Much like a CEO has one job, increasing the wealth of the shareholder, the heads of the agencies should have one job. Utilizing taxpayer dollars in the most efficient way possible to complete the narrowest possible mission of the agency.

While my limited government heart feels like we could probably eliminate more than half of the current agencies and no one's life would change dramatically, modernizing the workforce and trimming the number of employees is a good place to start. Next I'd love to see someone grab Carly Fiorina's mantra of zero based budgeting, but I won't hold my breath.

I think shrinking the federal workforce would do more good that tweaking discretionary spending. Make them stay busy doing necessary functions and they have less time to infringe on our liberties. The only real way to shrink the government is eliminate entire programs. Tweaking will never get there. I want the government smaller to ensure more liberty for so than for budget and spending reasons.

Sounds VERY good to me!

The part of the State Of The Union address that got the least attention, but was to my mind one of the most important points, was the intent to reform the civil service process. Civil Service has proved to be the poster child for Unintended Consequences, as it has burdened the nation with millions of unmotivated, unproductive and too often incompetent people who can't be fired. Reforming Civil Service and making oaths of office binding, both of which would introduce accountability to the public sector, are essential if we want a functional government.

When I consulted for an agency within DoD we made a proposal that they base their promotions on other criteria than the number of people they managed and the size of their budget. Because doing it that way encourages the size of government to consistently increase. There was almost no incentive to be more efficient and worse, no incentive to work across organizational lines. We were met with stony silence.

We already have a bonus pool at my bureau with the cut score so high that all but 5 people at my Post of Duty qualify. Duty is workload-dependent so people get released frequently which makes steps less frequent as well as career ladder increases. I still cannot afford my Federal Employee Health Benefits packaging so I go without insurance. In trying to redeploy to other agencies, I’ve been shortstopped repeatedly due to “critical skills” my current bureau won’t release even when I try intra-bureau transfers to other divisions like criminal investigations. All this might explain why we have been jumping ship for the private sector when possible.