Memo To Self: KILL THE BOSS. Or at least be sure to outlive the aforementioned individual!
How often, in your mind, have you written such a memo? That is, you wished the boss, the political appointee who runs your department, agency or program, would just go away? Either because the boss is making life miserable for you and others, doesn’t know what he or she is doing, or is downright dangerous to the program, if not the agency and the nation. Maybe someone who suffers from gross incompetence or elephantiasis of the ego.
On the other hand, suppose you got lucky. Suppose you got a boss with good ideas, an understanding (rather than fear, mistrust or hatred) of the federal bureaucracy, and some political clout to get things done. Or not, as needed.
Well whether you’ve got a winning team of political appointees at the helm, or whether your crew of politicals is what a career Pentagon official calls “the equivalent of the Christmas help” one thing is for sure: Their days are numbered.
Whether you love ’em or can’t wait to leave ’em, odds are your noncareer SES or Schedule C leader/tormentor will be gone shortly after the next President – Republican, Democrat or Independent – takes office. Many of the jobs are top-paying. But there are some at the GS 7 level. Some agencies have only a handful. Places like the Pentagon are teeming with political appointees.
In the last 20 years we have had two presidential families, Bush and Clinton, occupying the White House. Depending on how things go in Ohio, Texas, and with Democratic super delegates, the lineup could be Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton. Whoever takes over, he or she will want their own team. That means most of the current team of several thousand medium to highly paid political appointees will be moving on no matter who wins.
For most current political appointees that means they have zero job security after the inauguration in January, 2009. In addition to finding a new job, worries facing the lame duck politicos could also include trying to sell a house in a market that has seen better days.
Political Help Wanted
If you or a friend would like one of the political jobs, the thing to have (other than political contacts, a track record and the ability to pass a security test) is the so-called Plum Book. It’s real name is Policy and Supporting Positions. It is published every four years by the Government Printing Office. The 2008 version will be published early next year. It will list current (or then current) incumbents in each job in each agency by name, title, grade, etc. It’s a good shopping guide even though many if not most of the people listed will be gone by the time the book is published. It’s still a handy guide for the political job hunter. And to find out what your current or former political boss was paid.
For a look at the 2004 version of the Plum Book, click here.
Good Boss/Bad Boss
This may be a good time to appeal for your help. Jog your memory. Can you tell us some of the fabulous, most inspiring things you’ve seen a political do. Or do you have examples of some incredibly stupid, mean or evil action. We’d love to hear from you. It may help the new crop of politicals to do their jobs a little better. Or at least more carefully.