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Why agencies can't attract top talent

In response to a recent blog post, a reader suggested that federal agencies are their own worst enemy when it comes to recruiting top talent.

Blogger Steve Kelman wrote about the prospects of new Harvard grads entering public service. He was pleasantly surprised to find a number of seniors who were open to the idea of working for the government, even if they had no definite plans at the moment.

But a reader named Joe is concerned that many new recruits are likely to be horrified by what they find in federal offices.

“From my short time in the federal government thus far, the one word that I would use to describe my work environment is 'primitive,'” Joe writes. “The physical space itself is old and decrepit. The IT infrastructure is so old (Windows 2K, MS Office 2000, etc.) that we can't even read documents sent from within our own department.”

Another problem, perhaps even more damaging, is bureaucratic mindset of senior career employees, Joe writes – people “who equate attendance with work and seem to be trying to keep their head down (translated as risk avoidance) and just kill time until retirement.”

In short, even if federal agencies are able to lure top-flight graduates by offering them job security, “boring work, poor work environments, obsolete IT infrastructure, risk-averse leadership and lack of career development opportunities will force them to leave.”

What do you think?

Posted on May 27, 2010 at 12:18 PM


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