Under new management, so everything’s great, right?

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The end of the Trump Administration is supposed to mean happy-days-are-here-again for many rank-and-file and mid-level feds and postal workers.  Lots of them, maybe a majority, have felt unappreciated, attacked or downright hated or despised by their political bosses over the past four years.  Some feel their leaders were put in charge to downgrade or destroy their agencies and change their long-standing missions.  Workers at the Internal Revenue Service were constantly asked to do more with less. And fewer people. Many postal employees felt their political leaders were assigned to make the service look bad, so more of its business could (should) be transferred to the private sector.  Feds at the EPA and other agencies were often accused of foot-dragging. The new Biden-Harris team should represent  joy unconfined for the majority of federal and postal union leaders who have spent the last four years fighting White House efforts to cutback union rights, reverse teleworking and generally crack the whip against bureaucrats who were thought to be dragging their feet or sabotaging administration programs.

But while many are delighted the old guard is being replaced, some long time feds recall that it is often easier for politicians who are “friends’ of civil servants to stitch them up when necessary.

Marnie, a  reader who said she is “delighted” the government-savvy Biden team is taking over says its important for people to recall—or maybe learn for the first time—that there were three years without pay raises for feds under the Obama administration, which also cut back on bonuses and other awards  The pay freezes—which eliminated locality adjustments for 5 years—weren’t done to punish feds. They were part of a program designed to save $60 billion over 10 years to help recover from the Great Recession the administration inherited.  But while not a punishment, the pay freezes sailed through Congress and shocked (though it shouldn’t have) those who thought the bureaucracy untouchable.

“I am for Joe Biden-Kamala Harris all the way,”Marnie said. That said, she points out that the experienced team the administration is bringing in is “sort of a mixed bag…” Most are long time (former) public servants with a respect for government employees.  “But at the same time,” she said, “they know where some of the weak spots are and they are adept at getting things done to ‘improve’ the bureaucracy.” Even if some of those improvements meant belt-tightening for feds.

In January 2017 Government Executive did an excellent excellent rundown on the track record of the Obama administration as it related to federal workers, their pay, retirement and bonuses. Both President Obama and then VP — as of tomorrow, President — Joe Biden were wholeheartedly supported by most federal-postal union leaders who fumed silently, for the most part, when their team proposed the two-year pay freeze and supported a third year partly to appease congressional Republicans. The main difference, many feel, between the Obama and Trump administrations was attitude. The Obama team often made cuts or proposals feds didn’t like but also didn’t take personally. Team Trump often came across—by accident or design—as angry and seeking revenge.

Surely the  federal government should/must do a better job of protecting citizens from the pandemic than have most of the 50 states. Even thought most of the federal, state and local officials who are making policy and decisions have already had their shots.

For many feds a lot depends on how the new team and their new bosses understand, treat and respect them.  If they feel good about themselves and their jobs, and the way their bosses respect and treat them, they handle just about anything.  Including things like a pay freeze.  And most of the signs are very good. But…

Don’t throw away your overcoat just yet.  Things have a way of changing.

Nearly Useless Factoid

By David Thornton

You can taste garlic with your feet. If you cut a clove of garlic in half, place it in a bag, take it into another room that doesn’t smell like garlic, and place your bare feet in that bag, you’ll taste garlic after about an hour.

Source: Popular Science 

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