Enjoy the reorganization … or else

Virtually all modern-day new presidents, regardless of party, ideology or campaign promises, do the same thing shortly after taking office:

They each meet with veterans groups and claim to be admirers to share their hopes and dreams and feel their pain, even if they don’t know the difference between a Marine and an airman, or an Army Ranger and a Coast Guard cook. The new POTUS typically has a photo op with a group of (usually) D.C.-area kids who go to schools very different from the private academies they attended. They bring to the White House teams that won the World Series or Super Bowl to show they are regular guys, though they probably haven’t paid for a ticket or stood in line for years. If ever. And they also pledge, promise or threaten to reorganize the government. Some make it sound like happy days are here again as they “reinvent” the government. Others just say they are going to drain the swamp. Either way, long-suffering feds know to batten down the hatches for awhile.

Most current federal workers have been through at least a couple of reorganizations. The fact that they are still on the payroll means they survived. So far. But each new reinvention of the wheel can be hard on some of the people who make up the spokes.

Despite much of the anti-government, anti-bureaucrat rhetoric of the campaign, the director of the Office of Management and Budget says feds should not fear the Trump administration’s promised overhaul of government. “If you’re a really good federal worker,” Mick Mulvaney said, “you should welcome the reorganization plan.” Meaning, maybe, that if you don’t welcome it — based on past experience — you are what? Not a good federal worker. In which case …

Jobs are important to people. Jobs give them purpose. Meaning. A sense of importance. They also supply food and rent or mortgage money. And, if you are lucky enough to have a good one at a good place (like the U.S. government), they promise a decent retirement with lifetime benefits. Provided, of course, you keep the job.

The hallmark of most government reinventions is that they promise a smaller, more efficient government. Plus one that will reward the best and weed out the losers. And reduce the ratio of supervisors to employees. While those are great on paper (sometimes achievable in reality), the folks who are being reinvented or reorganized have reason to be concerned. For instance:

“The Reagan years were bad for federal workers. There was a hostile takeover at the Office of Personnel Management where the top guys hated or were suspicious of career civil servants. The (conservative) Heritage Foundation set many of the ground rules. The Clinton people smiled all the way but VP (Al) Gore’s reinventing government really beat up on government civil servants in an effort, I’m assuming, to get public support for changes the administration wanted. In Vietnam-era terms, they ‘destroyed the village to save it.’

“President Obama got support from federal unions but they got little in return. Except for three years without pay raises. I hope this is my last reorganization and that I get out with all earned benefits intact.” M. J.

“I don’t know how fast things will change … but I was sick and tired of getting the party line from Democrats and Republicans for the last 25 years. Those who had money kept it and those who got their freebies kept their freebies. Who pays for all that, those middle-class slugs who work 40-hour weeks and many of the federal family fit into this category… If President Trump is the great businessman he claims to be, you’d think he uses the first law of business: if you want to make money, you have to spend money. Does it mean higher taxes? That’s a consideration. What agency makes the most money for the government? Yes, it is the Internal Revenue Service, which the administration is trying to reduce.

“It really got momentum when President Clinton came to office … he started what has been 24 years of off-and-on contracting out, hiring freezes and even government shutdowns.” Tony Krolik

Which is why lots of government workers would say that being wary of yet another reorganization doesn’t make them bad people. Or bad workers!

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Michael O’Connell

The first recorded usage of the acronym “SNAFU” was in the September 1941 issue of American Notes and Queries.

Source: Wikipedia

Related Stories

    OMB Director Mick Mulvaney/(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)reorganization

    ‘If you’re a really good federal worker, you should welcome’ the reorganization plan, OMB says

    Read more

    All ideas are ‘on the table’ as agencies develop reorg plans

    Read more


Your Turn with Mike Causey


Learn about everything from pay, benefits and retirement, to buyouts, COLAs and pay freezes. Call the show live Wednesdays from 10-11 a.m. at 202-465-3080 with your questions. Dial 605-562-0264 to listen live from any phone. Follow Mike on Twitter and send him an email with your questions and comments. Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Podcast One.

Sign up for breaking news alerts


Oct 15, 2021 Close Change YTD*
L Income 23.2404 0.0377 3.52%
L 2025 12.0440 0.0378 6.40%
L 2030 42.6549 0.1817 7.92%
L 2035 12.8272 0.0595 8.58%
L 2040 48.6049 0.2448 9.26%
L 2045 13.3308 0.0713 9.83%
L 2050 29.2386 0.1664 10.41%
L 2055 14.4251 0.1019 12.65%
L 2060 14.4251 0.102 12.65%
L 2065 14.4249 0.1019 12.65%
G Fund 16.6826 0.0006 0.99%
F Fund 20.8640 -0.0506 -1.40%
C Fund 67.3040 0.4981 15.90%
S Fund 86.1731 -0.0636 11.66%
I Fund 39.1567 0.3956 8.56%
Closing price updated at approx 6pm ET each business day. More at tsp.gov
* YTD data is updated on the last day of the month.