Letters to the editor
With regard to an Aug. 6 item in "The Circuit" about Alphonso Jackson,
Department of Housing and Urban Development deputy secretary, prohibiting
supervisors at his agency from working a compressed schedule, I say: Congratulations,
Mr. Secretary, you just instituted a 20 percent drop in productivity.
What used to take four days now takes five, not counting the loss of
morale in doing away with one of the most highly valued and least costly
benefits to federal employees.
In times when Federal Computer Week and similar publications are sounding
the alarm over the impending mass exodus of federal employees due to dissatisfaction
and eligibility for retirement and the difficulty in recruiting people for
careers in government, some micro.managing, control freak, Type A personality
idiot gets rid of one of the better inducements for a federal job.
The compressed schedule is not just a win-win situation, but a win-win-win
situation. Not only do federal managers get the work done sooner, the employees
get more time off than they get from annual leave, and it does not cost
the taxpayers a dime.
I work a compressed schedule, and I think it is my best benefit. I had
the opportunity to take a short course recently, and many of my fellow students
were from private industry. We discussed the benefits of our jobs, and
when I told them about compressed schedules, they were envious. Envious
of federal jobshow often have you heard that lately?
So, Mr. Secretary, stop this tale told by an idiot, full of sound and
fury, signifying nothing, and admit that you just want your managers there
at your beck and call. You are fooling nobody. You do a great disservice
to a group of dedicated, professional people who I'm sure will workschedule
or no schedulewhatever time is necessary to get done what needs to be
One more question: Do under.secretaries have annual reviews, and if
so, how do you explain this quantifiable loss of productivity to your boss?
Army Research Laboratory
Trust in Contractors
I feel compelled to respond to the letter by "Name Withheld" implying
that contractors are not as trustworthy as career civil servants and, as
such, should be limited in their performance of many of the functions the
federal government cannot perform within the current civil servant force
structure. It is clear the writer has little or no empirical evidence to
support his or her assertions or concerns ["Contracting out is risky," FCW,
For example, contractors are subject to the same security background
investigations that civil servants go through. In some areas, such as national
security, we actually have to go through more stringent security checks
than some of our government colleagues. In addition, we are scrutinized
on a regular basis, and our facilities and processes must comply with numerous
policies and instructions.
Only someone who lacks a true appreciation of the contributions made
by contractors could make or even suggest some of the implications made
by the letter-writer. Many of us are former or retired civil servants or
military personnel. Some of us, including myself, serve the government
in dual capacitiescontractor and military reservist.
The writer, attempting to resolve his or her own insecurities, instead
merely discards us as second-class citizens ready to lop off a civil servant
at the first opportunity. I would remind the writer that career civil servants
have committed many of our worst cases of espionage (a la John Walker, Aldrich
Ames, Robert Hanssen).
The writer's pompous comments are demeaning and clearly represent the
kind of mindset that encourages an "us vs. them" mentality in government
outsourcing. We are Americans, trying to provide a service, and we deserve
a little better respect than that demonstrated by the writer's misguided
and uninformed comments.
Identifying a Solution
Regarding facial recognition and a national ID card ["Facing the need
for biometrics," FCW, Oct. 1]: We could use this technology and other biometrics,
such as fingerprints and iris scans, to improve visas and passports and
If this information, along with the information we currently print on
existing documents, were simply digitally signed and encoded on a national
ID card, most fraud would be halted, and known travelers could get through
immigration lines much quicker.
JB Fields & Associates