John Klossner

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Klossner: Who are these people?

When I first started drawing cartoons for FCW, during the Harding Administration, I was concerned about my lack of knowledge of both the subject matter and the people involved in the federal procurement community. I knew that drawing editorial cartoons of relevance on the issues surrounding this world would involve a steep learning curve, as I  familiarized myself with the language, the players, the acronyms and the secret handshakes.

I'm still concerned about these things, and the problem has become magnified. You see, I married a federal employee. Now my lack of awareness about the people who work for government gets me in bigger trouble than the animosity of FCW readers. I deal with these people on a regular basis, and I'm shocked to report that they are all decent, talented people for whom working for the government is an extension of their general concern for their communities, large and small. (Well, almost all of them. One of them is terrible at returning phone calls and never shows up for pre-existing lunch dates. I think he's trying to work his way into the White House press office.)

Based on this extensive and highly scientific survey, I can report the following about federal employees:

  • They throw great parties.

  • They enjoy outdoor activities.

  • They travel.

  • They make a mean cookie.

  • Their interests range well beyond their professional duties.

  • They have a keen appreciation of obscure cartooning blogs.

  • When camping, they can forget the bug repellant but often compensate by bringing extra cookies (see above).

  • They have an incredible ability to put in a 40+ hour work week on top of their 40+ hour work week researching a topic that may not have anything to do with their professional duties for 5 years.

  • Few of them were hired for their fashion sense.

One of the surprises for me, when first meeting the people in this world, was the realization that their careers -- for the most part -- lasted longer than a 4- or 8-year elected term. I guess I assumed the government and its multitudes all changed with the outgoing administrations. Upon learning that some people do, indeed, work for the government longer than 8 years, I had greater respect for these lifers. Their concern and interest in improving their communities and their government is impressive. Either that, or the hours, benefits and cookies keep them there.

This leads to this week's editorial concerning the recent nomination of a career fed employee to head the GSA, and the question of why more career feds aren't considered for top agency posts. The conflict between the entrenched federal community and the "fresh ideas" of incoming politicians / administrations is always cited in these cases, but fresh ideas of recent years seem to have included having no knowledge of how said agency operates, which may be good news for aspiring career feds in the near future.

Posted by John Klossner on Jul 07, 2008 at 12:18 PM


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