Letters

Any volunteers to change jobs?; Let the generations sit down and talk; Getting a foot in the door; A vote for data mining

The secretary of the Army’s proposal to rotate civilian employees into different jobs [Intercepts, Sept. 18] is just fluff and stuff. I support the idea, but few Senior Executive Service incumbents are likely to change jobs voluntarily. SES employees have always had mobility statements in their job descriptions. But if you look closely, most cases in which SES employees move are disciplinary cases. The move is imposed involuntarily as a means of encouraging an employee to retire or resign.
Any volunteers to change jobs?

I’m a retired GS-15. Since the 1980s, I have spoken to anyone who would listen to my proposal that all GS-13s and above should be moved involuntarily about every three or four years to broaden their experience. Those moves could include interagency transfers. The Northern Virginia area, for example, offers a variety of opportunities for changing jobs without the costs typically associated with permanent changes of station. Such moves would offer new experiences to employees who might otherwise camp out at one agency for 30 to 40 years until retirement.

Such involuntary job changes would produce a variety of positive results such as creating a well-rounded and motivated action officer or supervisor and eliminating deadwood within the workforce, those people who show little initiative and want nothing more than to occupy a desk that is reasonably close to home.

I was a supervisor from grade GS-13 through GS-15. The hardest part of a supervisor’s job is to motivate individuals who remain in an agency for a lifetime. Organizations must have new blood — an infusion of new action officers and supervisors — to be effective over time. One could argue on the one hand that having experienced action officers, or homesteaders, makes for an effective organization. On the other, those same people tend to have a “we’ve always done it this way” mentality.

I would bet that few current SESers will opt for the Army secretary’s voluntary job shift proposal.
Jim Lucas
Arlington, Va.

Let the generations sit down and talk
In response to the article in your Sept. 11 issue, “Ideas for managing a multigenerational workforce,” another idea might be for good-government organizations to hold facilitated discussions among generations of employees, so that everyone gains a better understanding of the pain points. There are numerous employee networks and organizations from which supervisors and employees of all ages could be drawn. Such discussions would foster increased respect and cooperation, especially as people realize that no single generation will be able to cope with the work world that is coming.

I get the feeling that the experts don’t know what to do next. Maybe they’re overlooking the obvious. If the workforce is engaged directly, we can explain the symptoms we are experiencing. Workable solutions will emerge through discussion.

Then good-government publications, including Federal Computer Week, could publicize best practices.
Kitty Wooley
Education Department

Getting a foot in the door
This is in response to the Oct. 9 article “Hire Me Already,” by Rachel Azaroff. I applied for more than 100 Defense Department jobs for which I received not one interview. I was overqualified, well-qualified or qualified for those positions. Finally, I did receive one job offer and accepted it.

I think what is happening is that agencies are hiring people within their own ranks and just going through the advertising process to comply with the law. In the position I am in now, I was the second choice because the person who took the job initially was an employee here who came down [to the job site] for a day and didn’t like the work, from what I have been told.

Thank you for your time.
Name withheld by request

A vote for data mining
In regard to the Federal Computer Week article “Data mining: The new weapon in the war on terrorism?” published in the May 29 issue, the notion that the government even cares about whether I or anyone calls a therapist, lover or hot line is absurd. There is such a flood of electronic traffic that it takes all the technology we have to discover the needle in the haystack. I strongly doubt that the government, with its focus on disrupting terrorist plots in the United States, has the time or manpower to go into a voyeuristic mode.

And to advertise to our enemy what we are doing to discover them is tipping off our enemy to what few intelligence tools we have. It is not by accident or good luck that no terrorists have been able to strike again since September 2001, and citizens need to realize that fact.
Paul Edmondson
Management/Project Analyst
State Department

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