Letter to the editor
I know from comments made by other government employees and personal experience that maybe we do not see the big picture.
I am classified as a Series 346 [logistics management] or 1670 [equipment specialist]. One has nothing to do with technology (although I have heard logistics covers everything). The other series is only understood in management as a logistics gofer. Technology professionals are not respected (it would appear to me).
I have troubleshot and resolved circuit switch (GTE), packet switch (BBN) and multichannel UHF/LOS systems and network problems at sites with more than 30-node networks. I have received some awards and recognition for this work.
When training was needed for others on the above systems and networks, I provided 85 percent (bunches) of the nongovernment references for installation, configuration, troubleshooting and problem-solving. I was the main instructor for the classes that trained the trainers (one award, very little recognition). The program lasted for five years (three years beyond my participation) and trained hundreds.
About four years ago, someone asked for Cisco training. I was tagged to obtain Cisco training for 20 train-the-trainers. I used a certified Cisco Training Partner for the training of 20 hand-picked folks who I knew could figure it out.
Then I went the extra mile (with management's permission). My colleagues and I set up another training environment with six Cisco Systems Inc. 2514 routers, 12 workstations and three servers all tied into a GTE/BBN/LOS two-nodal network. I helped produce all the training material and testing. Then I went further, because someone wanted Unix training (in 1997) on a shoestring budget. I was provided old Intel Corp. Pentium I 100 MHz PCs and Alpha servers that were headed for the junk heap.
A couple of other folks and I set up a single/mixed platform local-area network connected to the Cisco routers and that two-nodal network. What's a single/mixed platform LAN? We would in a two-week class provide a basic knowledge of LANs, Microsoft Corp. Windows NT, Linux and a mixed environment (both NT and Linux). We covered everything from installing the software from CD-ROM, creating users/groups and system security to configuration of a Web site. The computers were upgraded to 128M of RAM and were configured with removable hard drives to speed training (which included weekends as needed).
This training was terminated a few months ago (I left a couple years before). About a year ago, I took another job with far less mobility. For my Cisco and Linux/Windows NT LAN efforts (and those who worked with me), there were no awards or recognition. Even after I took the time to write the awards and recognition statements for about 10 folks (I didn't include myself), nothing was ever provided to them. A management type (made instructor/supervisor), who pronounced "POSIX" as "P-O-6," did get awards and recognition from management for all his great work.
This was all done with government employees. The Cisco initial training and equipment, along with the classes for mixed-operating-system LAN environments, cost the U.S. government about $84,000 (not including temporary duty cost) and trained hundreds, including some contractors.
Many of the folks I worked with on the above projects and in war zones (as civilians) do not expect to ever see the new information technology specialist (IT/S) workers' salaries. Dang, they don't even get the National Defense Medal (without benefits) for very notable service in Desert Shield/Desert Storm. (I have one, as a Vietnam-era veteran.) Well, they did get a hearty handshake.
Another funny point. I cannot be identified as an IT/S professional by the U.S. government. I am working an IT/S type job that is classed as a logistics slot. I get job announcements that would get me promoted, but I will not take a 346 logistics promotion slot.
I am looking at retiring early in the next decade. I promised my wife to stay with the government, and I am too old to become a job-hopper. Luckily, I do enjoy my job and the folks I work with. Also, my new chief (who I greatly like and respect) respects and appreciates my IT skills and accepts my average logistics skills.
I really have no complaints, just some mild disappointments in the performance of others
Name withheld by request