Has your agency lost a step? Have you?

Despite a big jump in population responsibilities and major changes, like global warming and the post-9/11 world, the number of federal workers is about the same as it was decades ago.

So how’s Uncle Sam doing? And how about you? Is your agency doing its [expanded] job as well as when you started out in government? For that matter, are you? Have responsibilities for your agency expanded while resources and personnel have stayed the same? What about the Federal Aviation Administration’s role in the two recent airline crashes, or how can the IRS collect more revenue from a growing population while its staff shrinks?

Last Tuesday’s column was built on the research and reports of others looking at whether the 21st Century federal establishment can and is doing its expanded job with a 20th Century-sized workforce. A lot of people commented and here are a few of them, beginning with Milton Aldridge, a veteran of three different federal agencies:

“The April 2 column was one of your best … It was right on including the thought-provoking comments from the Time Magazine writers. I interpreted the idea you presented as being there are a number of things … that need government attention. It seems nothing is being done about them except to downgrade and dehumanize in some cases those extremely important workers who are trying to resolve the issues dealt them without support from the 535 members of Congress and the one member with his staff of the White House.

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“There are also a number of other issues needing attention you did not mention. A very short list might include: The ‘war on the police,’ the lack of some police relating to the communities they serve, the lack of camaraderie within the Congress, within the White House and between the two, the damning of the departments that have worked for centuries — 200 [years] at least [and] some less — to build a character that has been damaged possibly beyond repair, the apparent hate and distrust between leaders of our government beginning with the department heads and moving up through the ranks to the White House, the care and feeding of the basic functions of our society such as infrastructure, and so many others.

“Mr. Causey, please accept my gratitude for expressing your thoughts about the outstanding federal employees who have given so many years of their careers toward making our country a better place to live. They will, I’m sure, continue to bear the flag of our country and what has made us such a great nation despite the ill will being heaped upon them by those they serve.”

This long-time manager at the IRS said they may soon have to wrestle with the issue of making President Donald Trumps’ tax returns public:

“I believe that the staffing levels have dropped to around 25 percent of what they were in 2005 in some areas, which currently has left a crisis of continuity. There are barely enough people left keeping the lights on to barely allow enough people to barely meet far reduced goals. Possibly look into what happens when legacy system IT gets overloaded due to a small error, which takes out a whole region’s workforce for over a month, etc. Millions of dollars of production are lost due to not having hundreds of dollars of resources on a regular basis.

“Most of the personnel with most of the talent and experience have retired or fled to the private sector, possibly due to the Bureau of Labor Statistics [findings] that government personnel are underpaid compared to the public sector by now over 35 percent for the same job. USA Today did a nice axe job [sic] several years ago when they noted that the average federal worker made more than the average private worker, but left out that the federal government has been forced to outsource most of the low paying jobs, leaving an apples to oranges comparison. Comparing McDonald’s and Walmart workers with a college graduate with an average of over 10 years in the position is not a fair comparison.

“Additional proposals to freeze pay and cost of living increases, increase retirement contributions by 600 percent and tying up funding authority for months on end have really made any hiring into this situation a difficult lift. All of this is without a serious disruption to the system, beyond the non-funding of the agency for over a month, that is. The IRS routinely supplies workforce to supplement FEMA in times of disaster. This is merely a shell game trick to cover the chronic lack of personnel in any one location. We rush a response force to the hardest hit areas constantly.

“Finally, consider the expanding duties of the IRS: Manic changes in the tax code, congressional litigation holds and ID theft prevention; and how they are accomplished with a severely reduced workforce working on rubber banded legacy computer systems. What happens when there is no confidence in collecting taxes, administering tax law, and keeping information safe?”

Nearly Useless Factoid

By Amelia Brust

Charles Sanna, the inventor of Swiss Miss Hot Cocoa who died last month at age 101, originally conceived of the idea as powdered coffee creamer for soldiers during the Korean War. He was a Navy veteran of World War II himself and after his service joined his father in the dairy business. After the powder packets were sold to airlines and restaurants, customers kept stealing them for home use. So the Sanna family rebranded the product and altered the formula.

Source: Grub Street

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