By Alyah Khan
Young government leaders converged in Washington, D.C. July 28 to attend the first day of the Next Generation of Government Summit.
The two-day conference includes sessions aimed at helping those leaders tackle issues in their daily lives. I attended a couple of the sessions and found that much of the advice offered was applicable to feds at any stage of their career.
Here are some ideas that I thought were particularly interesting and useful.
- Discuss ways to be innovative
Patrick Ibarra, cofounder and partner of the management and consulting firm Mejorando Group, said innovation is one of the primary elements for moving a career forward. He suggested that feds get rid of the employee suggestion box at their agencies and instead pose the question, “What more could we do to be innovative?”
He said the question should be publicly displayed in the break room on a bulletin or white board so that fellow employees can respond. This is one way to get the discussion started.
Ibarra also said that feds might want to create an “idea wall” where employees can post work-related suggestions for improvement. It only takes one employee to move beyond the thought phase and start executing.
- Frank DiGiammarino, deputy coordinator for recovery implementation at the White House, said feds should pick a specific job they want to do in a specific time horizon, which he called a “capstone.”
Then, he said, create a matrix with the skills that it takes to do that job and mark whether you are good at, not good at, like, or don’t like those skills to understand why you are pursuing the job. The “why” is important, especially during interviews, he said.
- Figure out what you do best
DiGiammarino said after people figure out what they are best at doing, they should be able to declare it to anyone. In order to achieve such clarity, he suggested that feds do the following: be open to new ideas, have advisors, talk to themselves, ask question and be brutally honest.
Posted on Jul 28, 2011 at 1:30 PM13 comments
Although negotiations on next year's budget are on hold due to the debate over the debt ceiling, some federal agencies are dealing with budget shortfalls by cutting their workforces.
Federal News Radio reports that the Education Department, Defense Department, Agriculture Department, and the Smithsonian Institution have sought the Office of Personnel Management’s permission for employee buyouts.
Also, the Social Security Security Administration and the Air Force have implemented hiring controls, according to the article.
In the last Workforce Wonk entry, I wrote about a bureau CIO at the Agriculture Department who took advantage of an early retirement offer, also known as an early out.
Linda Burek, CIO of USDA’s Rural Development bureau, said when her department offered the Voluntary Early Retirement Authority, it gave her the opportunity to retire sooner than she expected.
Do you think buyouts, early outs or hiring freezes are going to become a trend in the federal government? Are those options an effective way for an agency to deal with budget gaps?
Posted on Jul 26, 2011 at 10:27 AM37 comments
Linda Burek, CIO for the Agriculture Department’s Rural Development bureau, confirmed to Federal Computer Week that she is taking early retirement.
Burek’s move is evidence of the department’s decision to offer early outs for some employees due to a tight budget.
USDA received approval on May 13 from the Office of Personnel Management to offer voluntary separation and retirement packages to certain agency workers, Government Executive reported at the end of May.
In a July 25 email to FCW, Burek said she plans to retire on Sept. 30.
“When USDA offered the [Voluntary Early Retirement Authority], it gave me the opportunity to retire … sooner than I originally expected,” she wrote. Burek said her next venture will be helping her husband run a business they own.
According to the Office of Personnel Management, VERA allows agencies that are “undergoing substantial restructuring, reshaping, downsizing, transfer of function, or reorganization to temporarily lower the age and service requirements in order to increase the number of employees who are eligible for retirement.”
Burek said in her email that she is happy in her current CIO position and will miss the people she works with. “But, I’m ready to take on very different challenges,” she wrote.
What do you think about USDA offering early retirement? Have you heard of other agencies (maybe even your own) doing the same thing?
Posted on Jul 25, 2011 at 9:58 AM1 comments
Several proposals aimed at reducing the nation’s deficit have taken aim at the size and salaries of the federal workforce, and now federal employees are taking a formal stand against what they call “harmful attacks.”
The National Treasury Employees Union launched a public service campaign July 21 to highlight the services feds carry out each day.
“From guarding our borders to safeguarding the food we eat, the air we breathe and the water we drink, to administering the school lunch program so children do not go hungry, federal employees perform so many critical tasks for our nation each and every day,” said Colleen Kelley, NTEU president. “And all too often, we take this dedicated and effective service for granted.”
The union’s campaign will include a set of radio and television public service announcements, media events, grassroots efforts by local chapters and social media activities. A new website created by NTEU – www.TheyWorkForUs.org – has further information on the campaign.
Kelly said that political discourse often casts feds in an “unfavorable light,” noting the push by some members of Congress to cut the federal workforce.
Debate over the debt ceiling has been feds’ most recent cause for concern.
Earlier this week, a coalition of more than 20 federal employee and management pressed senior administration officials for answers on how the federal workforce would be affected if Congress fails to raise the nation’s debt limit by Aug. 2 deadline.
Some experts have suggested that if Congress can’t reach an agreement on the debt ceiling by the start of next month, federal employees might face furloughs or holds on their salaries. (See related FCW story.)
Posted on Jul 22, 2011 at 9:56 AM24 comments