Gov Careers

By Phil Piemonte

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Are some of the issues that plague DHS creeping your way?

"We do a great disservice to hundreds of thousands of federal employees when a constrained fiscal environment is interpreted as a referendum on the value of public service."

Most feds would probably agree with that.

The speaker was retired U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Thad W. Allen, in his March 22 testimony before the House Homeland Security Committee’s Subcommittee on Oversight, Investigations and Management.

The topic of that hearing was morale at the Department of Homeland Security. But Allen—a former commandant of the Coast Guard, and now a senior vice president at Booz Allen Hamilton—easily could have been talking about the federal workforce as a whole in the quote above.

While Allen aimed his testimony at the problems at DHS, his discourse on the nature of morale—and the ways it is affected by factors such as leadership, work environment, mission support architecture, and planning and coordination—easily could apply to any federal department or agency.

The same goes for some of the problems Allen described that exist at DHS. While the following list of concerns certainly is pertinent at DHS, one could argue that in today’s hyper-politicized and media-intensive environment, these particular issues also have come to hound agencies across the entire government.

Some of the top ones Allen says have dogged DHS:

(1) Public “zero tolerance” for failure.
(2) Unrelenting media scrutiny.
(3) Duplicative oversight.
(4) The inevitable immediate public discourse and referendum on departmental performance while operations are being conducted.

Certainly folks at the Transportation Security Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other DHS components would agree.

But these days, one could argue that a lot of non-DHS feds are in the same boat, and are increasingly being affected by the same pressures.

You’re a fed—what do you think?

Posted by Phil Piemonte on Mar 26, 2012 at 12:13 PM


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