16 January, 2017

A comment from someone in the 44th Administration, about career civil service staff

Vivian Paulette - As I continue to digest the end of this...:

As I continue to digest the end of this administration and how brightly it shined, I want to give a separate, and special, thank you to the dedicated career public servants who will continue to work on behalf of the American people. πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
Your work and tireless efforts are often overlooked by the shiny, bright toys (fancy people// but not all of them) who join for short periods of time and spend much of it patting themselves on the back or complaining about how hard the work is and posting pictures of themselves as if they were going to war. I hear your murmurs sometimes, I see the stares..it's soul crushing. People often forget that without our career civil service the government would actually be unable to carry out and fulfill the basic responsibilities necessary to function. You catch a lot of grief because someone comes in, bosses you around, then leaves a few months or short years later with primary organizational functions having remained almost entirely the same.
But the shiny new ideas, those are the stories that get told by comms teams intent on selling -- quite often (and with few exceptions) -- the laziest and shallowest version of a story. Then they go to conferences and talk about how hard and broken everything is and somehow it's your fault because it wasn't already fixed. It's an easy and cheap shot. You get overlooked during the story telling portion, but have all of the cleanup to do when a story paints your work negatively. You know it's not entirely wrong but, to be fair, there's very little digging into all of the steps over the many, many years that were required to launch this new thing or some slightly newer version of some old thing. Because that's what sells in a world drowned out by noise. It's a disservice to you, the backbone of American government -- those who are entrusted with implementing the democracy we cherish -- to not see your value and to tell that story every single day.
The work of public servants is tragically thankless. You don't come in for a short stint with the expectation of a picture with the president or an interview for a documentary or a new headshot. You show up every single day, regardless of who holds the office of the president, and you do your best to serve the people. You serve everyone despite the list of endless constraints. You try to keep up with the private sector despite incentives to be risk-averse. You show up and you do it anyway and ignore the long list of people telling you that your way of doing it is wrong.
I know this because on many occasions I have been the person described above. I'm sorry that it often takes a full administration to cycle before the "new people" fully digest the enormity of steering America. She's a huge ship, and even the tiniest miscalculation can set you off-course in the most catastrophic of ways.
If we knew this coming in, perhaps our ability to find balance and common ground would come much sooner. Perhaps, we could spend more time understanding and *building and improving from* instead of insisting on tearing down in order to rebuild. We'd get to the solution sooner.
As this administration comes to an end, and folks begin to cycle in while others cycle out: Thank you, career civil servants, for keeping America's lights on. πŸ•―

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