Letter to the editor

Return pride of government work

This is in reference to the IT worker slamming ["Daniels: Fed IT workers not the best"] and the notice that more job cuts are planned ["House slashes at DOD workforce"].

I can agree that the information technology workforce in the government is not as good as on the outside. And the aforementioned article could just be part of the reason.

My background is private industry 18 years, civil service 1.5 years, and a mix of active and reserve military service for 24 years. I am currently doing IT work under an engineering classification.

If I needed something in private industry, all I had to do was justify it. Depending on cost, it went to the supervisor, manager and/or vice president for approval. I would then send off the paperwork to procurement stating who, what and how much, and it would be in plant within a reasonable time. If it was for a federal contract, I had to pick from a smaller list of sources, but I could pick the one that had what I wanted. If there was a problem with the order, the final person in the chain would contact me, or vice-versa.

In the government, if I need something, I have this long chain of people to go through. I cannot talk directly to the person doing the actual order, only through several intermediaries. Due to cutbacks, those people are doing the jobs of three or four people. I also have an even more limited source of supply.

It has now taken six months to do the same task that I had performed in two months when I worked for a contractor two years ago, and there's no end in sight. We cannot override the system and order parts to complete our task from the same company — a practice a contractor doing the job would use — but we have to use a system where we can be told that there's a "nine-month back order" with no recourse. We have to go through the overloaded chain of command that now looks like it will be getting worse due to more overloading, making those who depend on it look worse also.

Yes, the government IT force does not look as good as the "real" world, but then again, those in the "real" world do not have to perform with the anchors that their government counterparts have to work with to produce the same product.

That is why we are seeing people leaving for the higher-paying jobs with real benefits in the engineering and computer professions. The bigger paycheck is an incentive, but a bigger incentive for many is getting away from the fact that pride of work is not allowed in the government — operating within the system is the only thing that counts.

Return the pride of work and the tools and support to get the job done correctly in the most expeditious manner, then compare the two groups again. Make the rules we operate by the same. You will find that government IT workers (not just those with the government job code, but all the professional workers in the field) can hold their own with the outside world if they have a comparable working environment.

Name withheld by request

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