Wanted: Public Servants

Once a prestigious career path, heading to Washington to work in government is losing its luster.
By Susan Milligan – Wanted: White House staffer.

It includes long hours, a boss who might ridicule you on Twitter, give you a humiliating nickname and make you constantly worry about your job security. Pay is less than you’d make in the private sector – even lower when you subtract the amount you’ll have to pay a lawyer, even if you did nothing illegal.

The big payoff is notoriety – or a return to your old job in the private sector, assuming they’ll have you.

Looking for something a little less high-profile?

You can work in the civil service, where you’ll have better job security (assuming congressional efforts to weaken your employment protections as a federal worker don’t succeed). But you’ll be denigrated as a member of the “Deep State,” and quite possibly be without a real boss, instead working for an “acting” leader with no real authority.

This is what it means now to choose public service in Washington, where White House turnover is at record levels and uncertainty rules at federal agencies employing career workers. And it has many worried about the impact not only on the day-to-day operations of the U.S. government, but on the very integrity of public service as a profession.

Why, after all, would an educated, experienced person elect to take on such a low-results job?

“There’s no question that it not only demeans the value of public service, but undermines the trust the public has in public institutions,” says Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service, a nonpartisan group dedicated to making government more efficient and effective.

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“Those are all bad for democracy.” more>


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