Lots of federal workers are using the L-word these days.
Some career civil servants at the Interior Department are worried (think the P-word) since the boss, Secretary Ryan Zinke, told an oil group last week that about 30 percent of his crew isn’t with the program. Some said he was just sounding off. Others that it was the proverbial shot across the bow to get people’s attention. Others feel he may have hit, or at least been aiming for, the engine room.
The secretary didn’t use the L-word. But he did say that 30 percent weren’t saluting the flag. That could mean a lot of things, from literally not saluting the flag, to being downright obstructive, disloyal, maybe even subversive. Who knows? Here’s the column.
Interior is — like many other federal agencies — a large, diverse outfit located in lots of places. It has 70,000 workers (including the disloyal) who are at 2,400 different locations, facilities and installations around the country and 350 different occupations.
So what are people saying about the L-word? Here are some examples:
“It’s quite simple if you ask me. Employees swear to be loyal to the
Constitution ONLY. Furthermore, they swear to defend it against enemies,
foreign and DOMESTIC (take that as you will). But nowhere does it say you
must be ‘loyal’ to any person OR office. If employees are upholding the
Constitution, then they are loyal, whether Zinke likes it or not.
Oath: I, [name], do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the
Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic;
that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this
obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and
that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which
I am about to enter. So help me God.
5 U.S.C. §3331” — An employee who takes the oath seriously
“Good morning. I enjoyed your reporting on Zinke’s outrageous statements about Department of the Interior employees. In addition to the scenarios you brought up, there’s also the question of how Zinke determined that 30.000 were ‘disloyal’ and that he has violated the Hatch Act that outlaws pernicious political activities (I’d say alienating and threatening employees who have a different opinion than you is pretty pernicious).
Keep on bringing light to the active and retired federal employees!” — B
And finally, another take.
“I just finished 13 years in the VA, through three administrations. This problem is not unique to Interior or now.
We had Gallup come in for several years during the early Obama years and poll employees; most people don’t know about this part of their services — surveying companies for corporate culture. For three or four years running, Gallup identified 30-35 percent of our part of the VA employees as being ‘actively hostile to the work environment.’ The positive and productive people were 20-25 percent, and the numbers didn’t change each year.
What to do was a constant problem for management, assuming they were in the 20-25 percent, or the 40 percent who may or may not show up on any given day, and on that day they cared. Employees got training — hoping they would like something new and be productive; others were put in ‘corners’ to limit their influence; others are / were tolerated until they retired or left for their own reasons.
If the Trump administration decides to do something about it now, I wish them the best, knowing that the 30-35 percent are also the most likely to stick their face in a camera and claim anything about how ‘unfair’ it was that they were expected to change and show up. Cheers.” — Wayne S.