Feds in survival mode: The countdown begins

For many career federal workers, both rank-and-file and senior executives, the next 15 months are going to be interesting to say the least. That is interesting in the same way that being in a burning building, or a room full of potentially nasty bugs, can be interesting.

The election is just over a year away. After that — whoever wins — will be the transition. Political handovers can be tough, even if the outgoing and...

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For many career federal workers, both rank-and-file and senior executives, the next 15 months are going to be interesting to say the least. That is interesting in the same way that being in a burning building, or a room full of potentially nasty bugs, can be interesting.

The election is just over a year away. After that — whoever wins — will be the transition. Political handovers can be tough, even if the outgoing and incoming presidents like each other and are of the same party.

Transitions are particularly trying for members of the Senior Executive Service. There are 7,891 career and political SESers. The majority are career with a pay range of $121,956 to $183,300. Not bad for the average American, but chump change by Wall Street (or Hollywood) standards

During the transition period, career executive are protected to some extent. There is a mandatory “getting to know you” period when they can’t be transferred or let go. The idea is that their new political boss needs to know what they do, and how and why they do it before making any top personnel changes.

Long-time SESers know that some (many, most?) incoming political appointees have an aversion to “bureaucrats”. That can be hard to live with, much less survive.

Although most executives make it through the transition trial-by-fire, some find themselves frozen out of decision making. Or kept in the dark. Some take it in stride, some grin and bear it, some may say “enough” this time.

I recently got to chat, informally, with a long-time career executive. She’s been in government for decades, loves her work, the people around her. And it’s believable when she says she’s always liked serving people. Corny, maybe, but apparently very true. And, according to people around her, she’s very good at her job which never hurts. That said, this may be her last rodeo.

She said she’s at the point where “it’s time to say enough.” Her decision isn’t predicated on who wins. Or age. Or a desire to retire and play shuffleboard.

She said she’s tired of fed bashing, tired of the recent attacks on career executives who sometimes take the heat for their political masters. She’s tired of Congress — and sometimes the White House — for pushing around, or ignoring, feds.

She said many of her colleagues feel the same way. They are suffering from PTS (pre-transition stress) and feel they don’t have another transition in them. Some incoming politicians might welcome that — until they hit their first serious bump!

SEA Changes: Timothy M. Dirks will be the new interim president of the Senior Executives Association. He will succeed Carol A. Bonosaro who is retiring and happily heading to Florida well before the snow flys.

Dirks is well known in the federal community. He had a long, distinguished career at the Department of Energy, the Smithsonian and OPM.

Bonosaro has been president of the SEA since 1986. She had a long career with OMB and the Civil Rights Commission and, at 33, was one of the first women to be promoted to the old super-grade rank, and one of the first in the SES.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

The U.S. Mint is temporarily suspending its exchange service for bent or partial coins.  In the past, members of the public or businesses could turn in bent or fused coins for reimbursement. The Mint is suspending this service for six months to assess the security of the program. Damaged coins can still be exchanged at Federal Reserve banks or branches.

Source: Federal Register

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