How the U.S. Government celebrates Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is one of 11 federal holidays recognized nationally by the United States government. All non-essential federal agencies are closed on Thanksgiving, and all federal employees are paid, even on holidays. Most federal employees work Monday through Friday, so if the holiday falls on a weekend, the holiday will be observed on the next regular business day. If the holiday falls on a Saturday, it will fall on Friday; if it falls on a Sunday, it will fall on Monday. Many private sector employees also take paid or special leave on Thanksgiving.

 Thanksgiving is a day to give thanks for last year’s harvest. The holiday is rooted in the tradition of harvest festivals held by early American settlers. It is celebrated on the fourth Thursday of November each year and has been a national holiday since 1941.

The history of Thanksgiving

 On September 28, 1789, just before leaving for vacation, the first Congress passed a resolution encouraging the President of the United States to hold a day of national appreciation. A few days later, President George Washington issued a proclamation designating Thursday, November 26, 1789, as “public Thanksgiving Day,” marking the first time Thanksgiving was celebrated under the new constitution. Subsequent presidents have issued Thanksgiving proclamations, but the dates and months of celebration vary. It wasn’t until President Abraham Lincoln proclaimed in 1863 that Thanksgiving took place regularly on the last Thursday in November.

 However, in 1939, the last Thursday of November became the last day of the month. Worried that the shortened holiday shopping season could dampen the economic recovery from the Great Depression, President Franklin D. Roosevelt moved Thanksgiving to the second-to-last Thursday in November. As a result of the proclamation, 32 states issued similar proclamations, but 16 states refused to accept the amendment and declared Thanksgiving to be the last Thursday in November. For two years, Thanksgiving was celebrated over two days. The president and some of the country celebrated his Thanksgiving on the second-to-last Thursday in November, and the rest of the country celebrated it the following week.

 To end the confusion, Congress decided to set a fixed date for the holiday.On October 6, 1941, the House of Representatives passed a joint resolution making the last Thursday of November annual Thanksgiving Day. Did. However, the Senate changed its decision to set the holiday on the 4th Thursday, given the year November 5th Thursday. The House approved the amendment, and President Roosevelt signed the bill into law on December 26, 1941, making the fourth Thursday in November a federal holiday for Thanksgiving. The turkey’s national presentation ceremony has been held since 1947, but President George H.W. Bush was the first to actually offer a presidential pardon to Turkey. Last year, President Biden pardoned two turkeys from Jasper, Indiana at his National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation on Friday, November 19, 2021, as part of the White House’s ceremony.

Thanksgiving in the Military

The U.S. Navy celebrated Thanksgiving in some form even before it became an official American holiday. Roasted turkeys, roasted ham, and pumpkin pie are still part of nearly every Thanksgiving at sea or on land to this day.

 During World War I, the Red Cross and other charities began helping Soldiers on Thanksgiving Day, but families in places like France where Soldiers were stationed didn’t take them home that day.

 During World War II, the holiday C-or-K ration were replaced with turkey and cranberries. It was either shipped by the military or gathered from local farmers. Today, the Defense Logistics Agency ships Thanksgiving’s traditional turkey, pumpkin pie, and all the trimmings to tens of thousands of military personnel around the world.

Overall Thanksgiving is a sacred American tradition that for a day brings a nation together around family, food, football and fun.

Cited Sources:

https://www.govinfo.gov/features/thanksgiving-2021
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Thanksgiving-Day
https://www.federalpay.org/gs/raises
https://www.archives.gov/legislative/features/thanksgiving

President Biden has signed the One Stop Shop for Small Business Compliance Act

On Monday of this week, President Biden signed the bipartisan One Stop Shop for Small Business Compliance Act. The bill was cleared by both the House and Senate.

“Now more than ever, we must pursue commonsense legislation that allows small businesses to thrive in our recovering economy,” said one of the sponsors of this bill Rep. Van Duyne (R) said in an April press release. “Often times, small businesses are unaware of their new responsibilities as federal laws are updated. The One-Stop Shop for Small Business Compliance Act of 2021 will consolidate the resources necessary to navigate the seemingly never-ending web of bureaucratic red tape.” Said Van Duyne

“We should be doing everything in our power to support small businesses in New York and across the country by making the resources available to them clear and easy to access”  said another sponsor Rep. Delgado (D).

Current law requires federal agencies to publish small business compliance guides for certain regulations. However, these guides are housed on different agency websites, making it nearly impossible for small businesses to find and utilize them. The One-Stop Shop for Small Business Compliance Act of 2021 creates a centralized, online “one-stop shop” for small business owners. The online clearinghouse would also list contact information for the appropriate agency staff who could provide regulatory assistance to small businesses.

Cited sources:

https://vanduyne.house.gov/media/press-releases/van-duynes-one-stop-shop-small-business-compliance-act-2021-passes-house-floor
https://www.govexec.com/management/2022/10/new-law-will-make-it-easier-small-businesses-navigate-seemingly-never-ending-web-bureaucratic-red-tape/378262/

The U.S. Government is responding to the rising Inflation, and the demand for acquisition

It’s hard to remember a time when FAS had to deal with so many moving parts than 2022. Beginning with the transition from DUNS numbers to Universal Entity Identification Numbers, to Polaris’ GWAC’s now highly infamous government-wide small business takeover deal, and the unforeseen challenges of inflation affecting nearly every aspect of public and private life. The acquisition sector has experienced rapid mutations since January.

Federal Acquisition Service Commissioner Sonny Hashmi continues to simplify the buying and selling experience through organization-monitored schedules and GWACs. The GSA has announced the planned launch of a new bidders experience based on human-centered design. GSA said in an April 13 press release. “The updated buyer experience will offer buyers access to acquisition tools and market research solutions, as well as documents, templates and pricing resources to help plan acquisitions”. According to the GSA, the goals of these messaging tools are typical, including reducing burdens and simplifying the client agency experience. But digging deeper, the FAS is looking to address long-standing complaints about the acquisition process. The challenge with the acquisition process is trying to communicate with the client. Additionally, ensuring consistent implementation can be another hurdle. The fact that the FAS seems to be struggling to scale back the constant change of contracting officers is a bit of a concern, especially given that agencies haven’t planned enough for inflation and its impact on providers. The Department of Defense underestimated our current inflation and expected inflation to be 4%. A senior Pentagon official told Congress on April 5 that the military is now feeling the effects of higher-than-expected inflation. However, the Department of Defense has not released calculations for the reduction in purchasing power.A final decision from the GSA that you may have missed was made in February and published in March. The GSA has decided not to use agents to remove price as a rating factor when awarding contracts for flight planning programs under Section 876 of the Defense Authorization Act of 2019. After a series of conversations with industry and agency clients, GSA decided to maintain contract level pricing. GSA wrote in a March 23 blog post. “Customer agencies expressed deep concerns about moving the pricing negotiation requirement from the contract level to the order level. Most agencies stated that this move would significantly reduce the value that MAS contracts give them”. In a white paper outlining its decision, the GSA said its integration project team conducted six listening sessions with government and industry clients to develop a list of “pros” and “cons”.

One of the reasons for the need to implement 876 agencies under the Roadmap program that includes the is the potential reduction in contracting agency workload and industry support for change. On the other hand, the list of reasons for not implementing 876 agencies is much more sizable. Included in this 876 agencies is the GSA, which already ensures that contract-level pricing is competitive, agencies can request further job-level discounts based on volume purchases, and contract employees can There is no need to engage in formal negotiated procurement as required by FAR Part 15. at the order level.

The GSA wrote, “Early talks with industry during the Office of Governmentwide Policy (OGP) listening sessions indicated the risk that there may be some level of industry backlash as a result of not implementing Section 876. While the IPT acknowledges that compared to customer agencies more of our industry partners are open to implementing Section 876, this initial discovery phase did not produce any solid evidence that industry would turn away from MAS if Section 876 was not implemented.”  GSA wrote. “Instead the opposite was stated by some industry partners during the IPT’s interview. Some voiced the fear that implementation of Section 876 would put more burden on customer agencies and deter them from using the MAS Program. In addition, while some stated that they would rather be able to develop pricing at the order level, the majority of industry partners interviewed by the IPT acknowledged that there were benefits to having pricing at the contract level”. GSA uses or will use Section 876 agencies for several large multi-award contracts. It’s also considering its use for the upcoming new services multiple award contract.

Cited sources:

https://www.gsa.gov/about-us/newsroom/news-releases/gsa-previews-steps-to-improve-buyer-experience-with-government-04132022
https://buy.gsa.gov/interact/

What is the GSA

The General Service Administration (GSA) is a government organization that delivers real estate, acquisition and technology services to the U.S. government and the American people. The organization values its self on its service accountability and innovation. Often the GSA will outsource their needs to government contracting businesses who is willing and able to provide a solution. Contracting officers within the GSA put their requests on public portals, and private portals often known as schedules.

From the GSAs about us page:

“GSA provides workplaces by constructing, managing, and preserving government buildings and by leasing and managing commercial real estate. GSA’s acquisition solutions offer private sector professional services, equipment, supplies, and IT to government organizations and the military. GSA also promotes management best practices and efficient government operations through the development of governmentwide policies.”

Contracting With The GSA

The GSA issues long-term, governmentwide contracts that provide federal, state, and local government buyers access to commercial products, services, and solutions at pre-negotiated prices.

If you become a GSA Scheduled contractor you will be able to:

  • Sell products and services directly to government agencies using streamlined ordering procedures
  • Maintain compliance with federal regulations and policies
  • Offer products and services at fair and reasonable prices

If you decide to submit an offer to GSA to be considered for a Multiple Award Schedule contract, you will need to give complete and accurate information that describes your company’s:

  • Financials
  • Experience
  • Past performance
  • The commercial products, services, and/or solutions you are offering

Obtaining a Schedules contract is a challenging process for a company of any size. GSA offers substantial help with this process, including free training held online and at GSA regional offices.

Alternatively to schedules there are Governmentwide Acquisition Contracts (GWACs).  GWACs provide access to IT requests such as systems design, software engineering, information assurance, and enterprise architecture.

The GSA’s policy on GWACs was issued on September 17th 2012. It states that GSA employees are required to use existing GSA acquisition vehicles before establishing new contracts for similar products or services.

https://www.gsa.gov/about-us
https://www.gsa.gov/technology/technology-purchasing-programs/governmentwide-acquisition-contracts-gwacs
https://www.gsa.gov/buy-through-us/purchasing-programs/gsa-multiple-award-schedule/mas-roadmap

Some Agencies Report 100% Vaccine Mandate Compliance as Others Begin Suspensions

Agencies continue to see vaccination rates rise as disciplinary actions ramp up.

The federal government gave its agencies and contractors time to comply to President Biden’s vaccine mandate, but not all employees have complied. Counseling and education were a first step among many agencies trying to get all their personal vaccinated, but it seems now more and more are taking steps towards more severe punishments. While all agencies have seen an improvement in vaccination and compliance status since the mandate was announced in November, the administration did suggest pushing back the harsher punishments till January.

Agencies are still pushing for compliance, and some are doing better than others. The department of Education, for example, is now 100 percent compliant. All its employees have been vaccinated or have an exemption pending. “The Environmental Protection Agency and Nuclear Regulatory Commission have seen their vaccination rates jump by an additional 3% of their workforces in recent weeks. Below are the compliance and vaccination rates for every major federal agency, which in some cases date back to December” (Katz 22).

The Agricultural Department still has around 1,600 employees that are not vaccinated and not in compliance. They plan to move into the next phase of disciplinary action immediately. As with other agencies, they are hopeful that this will encourage the rest of the employees to comply. “As we move forward with the next steps of the enforcement process, which will involve letters proposing brief suspensions for those few still not in compliance with the vaccination requirement, we anticipate that even more of our employees will get vaccinated in the days and weeks ahead,” a spokesperson said.

Some agencies were ready to move forward with harsher procedures in December but used that time instead to send letters to employees not in compliance warning them of the repercussions as the government asked agencies to wait till January. Some even went as far as reminding workers of friends, family, and colleagues that would be affected by their decision to not comply. According to the agencies, carrying out these suspensions and possible firings have not impacted the services that the American people rely on.

Agencies also must consider all their medical and religious exemption requests that they have received and begin working on them. “Agencies are in the process of reviewing and adjudicating exception requests,” the OMB official said. “That process will continue to pick up pace as agency personnel return from the holidays and last week’s federal office closures due to inclement weather.” Agencies are handling thousands of requests and the majority of employees have not heard back and could still face disciplinary action if their requests are denied and they do not get the vaccine.

By: Beth Gray

https://www.govexec.com/workforce/2022/01/some-agencies-report-100-vaccine-mandate-compliance-others-begin-suspensions/360630/

How to Avoid Achy Feet while Working at Home

One side effect of working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic may come as a surprise: sore feet. Here are some tips on how to get relief.

As the pandemic spirals on, working from home is becoming more prevalent and for many companies, permanent. With the ability to work from home comes some perks, one being comfort! Instead of dress slacks, we slip on sweatpants, and instead of heels or dress shoes, we go right to our warm comfy slippers or completely barefoot! According to Sean Peden, an orthopedic foot and ankle specialist from Yale University Medicine, these habits can lead to foot pain and other issues. “Many people are continuing to work at home part- or full-time, which for some can mean wearing slippers or walking around barefoot,” Peden says. “And because of that, many patients are coming to us with foot problems.” Taking care of your feet is extremely important and can prevent common injuries in your feet, ankles, knees, and your back. Below are a few examples of injuries and how you can protect against them.

Walking barefoot or with soft cushy slippers with no real sole is ill advised. Peden states that when selecting shoes for at home, it should be similar to ones we would wear out of the house. Our shoes need to have harder soles in order to absorb the shock of walking. After weeks or months of not having proper footwear, injuries can begin to occur, like calluses, but also bigger issues like arch collapse. Peden suggests having house shoes that are only worn indoors. “To be practical, I suggest a slip-on clog or slipper without laces. That way, you don’t have to tie and untie your shoes 10 times a day,” Peden says. “A hard sole is important because the harder the sole, the less stress the joints and tendons in your foot experience with each step. The hard sole transfers that stress to the shoe rather than to the foot. A good rule of thumb is if it isn’t something you could walk in for a few blocks comfortably, you shouldn’t wear it around the house all day, either.”

Two of the most common foot problems Peden has seen since the beginning of the pandemic is Achilles Tendonitis and Planter Fasciitis. Tendonitis can really impact an individual that has flat feet. The tendon in the arch of the foot becomes inflamed and can cause damage. Peden says if you experience pain from this, stay off your feet, ice the area, and find a good supportive pair of shoes to wear daily! Secondly, planter fasciitis, which is normally pain in your heel, is caused by inflammation in the foot at the band of tissue on the bottom of your feet. “The pain is usually on the bottom part of the heel,” Peden says. “It’s associated with tight Achilles tendons and calf muscles. If people spend a lot of their day sitting, for example, the muscles can tighten up, and wearing improper footwear can exacerbate the issue.” The fix for this is mostly proper footwear according to Peden, there is also a flexible splint that can be worn at night to stretch out the muscle, so it is not so tight by the morning. “Exercise, physical therapy, and weight loss can all make a difference in addressing foot pain, too. “One pound of additional weight on your body leads to six pounds of additional pressure on your foot. So, if you lose 10 pounds, that is really taking 60 pounds of pressure off your foot,” Peden says. With the pandemic, many people have gained weight, which compounds the problem. But the key is not to do too much too quickly to try to reverse it, Peden says. “If you try to lose weight by suddenly walking too much, that’s hard on your feet, too, and may lead to other foot problems. So, I often recommend cross-training, including low-impact cardio activities like biking or swimming. You can walk, but try to take it easy and, as always, wear good, supportive shoes. “Hiking shoes are often a good option, particularly if you walk on uneven surfaces, including trails. “They are a little safer than sneakers, and protect your foot and ankle better,” he says (Futurity 22)

Overall, Peden advises if you are having foot pain, seek medical attention. There are many comfort levels amongst people right now when it comes to visiting doctors, but if you are having foot pain, it is best to see an orthopedic doctor as it could be a very easy fix.

By: Beth Gray

https://www.govexec.com/workforce/2022/01/how-avoid-achy-feet-while-working-home/360319/

Omicron Is Pushing America Into Soft Lockdown

The coronavirus is raging again, this time with the new variant Omicron. This isn’t March 2020, but it may start to feel that way in a city near you. While mayors are not actually putting their cities under lock-down, it seems businesses are doing it on their own. In New York, for example, Broadway shows, numerous restaurants, butcher shops, and many other small to large businesses have closed their doors temporarily.

“For Brent Young, who runs a butcher shop and two restaurants in Brooklyn, it began last week when, one by one, staff members tested positive. “It’s more or less decimated our workforce,” he says. One of his restaurants had been booked solid with parties for a week—the holidays are one of the busiest times of the year for restaurants—but people started canceling those parties too. At this point it’s not worth trying to stay open, Young says, “because the anxiety’s so high no one’s wanting to eat.” For most vaccinated people, Omicron will be mild. But even a mild cold, sufficiently widespread, can disrupt a city” (Zhang 21).

This essentially is a soft lockdown brought on by the people because of the new variant. This definitely helps with the transmission of COVID-19, but health experts are still unsure of how much it will help. What we seem to be experiencing now is the “epi curve”. The cases must rise and rise until immunity builds and the virus is forced to slow, then the cases will drop dramatically. “In other words, “when you see a peak and see it go down, it doesn’t mean the risk has abated,” says Joshua Weitz, who studies viral dynamics at Georgia Tech. According to work by Weitz and his colleagues, this helps explain why COVID cases have peaked and plateaued multiple times over the course of the pandemic. Those peaks also tend to be asymmetrical, with steeper rises than falls” (Zhang 21). It is basically all up to how we are handling the situation as a people. We see a lot of cases, so as a result we become extremely careful. Then we get tired of being at home, or work calls us back, and then cases begin to climb again. This new variant is here unfortunately at a time when Americans are just flat out tired of the pandemic, so this soft lock down may not last long and we may not see that dip in cases that we have become accustomed to. Predicting how people are going to react to the variants is pretty much impossible, and even if we see a dip in cases, it could be for a variety of reasons, one being we just don’t have enough testing kits. With this soft lockdown, the economy is going to suffer. Even if people decide they just can’t stay home and go out, once a business has too many employees with the virus, they will be forced to close till they can bring back healthy employees. Unfortunately, this time around there is no government assistance financially. It is up to the business owners themselves to take on this pandemic and hope that immunity starts to build, and we can resume a somewhat normal life again, but never covid free.

By: Beth Gray

Omicron Is Pushing America Into Soft Lockdown – Government Executive (govexec.com)

New Executive Order Seeks to Reduce Worker Turnover on Service Contracts

President Biden issued an executive order on Thursday, November 18, with the intent to reduce worker turnover on service contracts with the government. This order is not entirely new, as something similar was in effect during the Obama administration, but then revoked under the Trump administration. According to a fact sheet provided by the white house, there are about 2 million service contract workers providing important federal functions. These jobs range from maintenance on military bases to call centers to transportation to research and development.

The fact sheet states that “the executive order extends the right of first refusal to qualified workers when a service contract changes hands and the jobs on the new contract are similar,” as turnover can be timely and costly. “Taxpayer-funded services [will] benefit from an experienced workforce that is already familiar with federal facilities, personnel and other requirements of the job” and this order will “provide firms that secure new federal contracts with a ready, skilled pool of workers.”

The fact sheet continued, “this executive order will also remove the requirement that the new contract remain in the same location for the job continuity policy to take effect. This change in policy updates the administration’s approach to account for the flexible nature of service sector work in today’s economy.”

The executive order also directs the department of Labor to issue final regulations within 180 days and then within 60 days of that the Federal Acquisition Regulatory Council must amend the Federal Acquisition Regulation so that this can be included in contracts and the solicitations.  The executive order will also “apply to solicitations issued on or after the effective date of the final regulations issued by the FAR Council.” For the solicitations that are already issued, federal agencies are being encouraged to apply the provisions.

Unfortunately, the executive order does not apply to contracts under the simplified acquisition threshold. “These are contracts that are capped at $250,000, but can go higher for certain items, as well as employees hired to work on a federal service contract and at least one non-federal service contract as part of a single job “provided that the employees were not deployed in a manner that was designed to avoid the purposes of this order,” said the executive order. It also outlines how senior agency officials can make exceptions to this policy as well as authorizes the Labor secretary to investigate potential violations.” (Buble 21)

The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace workers, which has almost 40,000 service contract workers, was especially thankful for the order. Robert Martinez Jr., association president, praised the president stating, “President Biden is a champion for working families and continues to put them at the top of his agenda, thousands of [International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers] members and other service contract workers can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing their jobs won’t be displaced when government service contracts change hands from one employer to another.”

By: Beth Gray

https://www.govexec.com/management/2021/11/new-executive-order-seeks-reduce-worker-turnover-service-contracts/186960/

Sabre88 Honors Its Veterans

As we Honor our Veterans today let us also remember it’s not just a day off from work or a day for sales.  Veteran’s Day is the day in which we celebrate our veterans.  Those who bravely fought to protect our borders and our revolutionary Freedoms.   November 11th annually, is set aside in remembrance of the “eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month” which marked the end of World War I.   

Our great republic and all its citizens are forever indebted to Our country’s veterans deserve to be honored for their service and their sacrifices, as we would live in a vastly different world without them.

On this day, let us remember those who fought for our freedom and put themselves in harms’ way to protect our great nation. Let us honor and recognize our veterans for their contribution to our ability to enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Let us humbly give thanks to our heroes and reflect upon their steadfast sense of duty.

We are proud to honor our very own Sabre88 Veterans:

1.        Jim Hansel

2.        Brian J. Schweikert

3.        Robert Lightfoot

4.        Charlie Cernat

5.        Carlos Boglin

Thank you for your service!

The Battle for the Public Service Is Just Beginning

In his article on the critical debate over the future of the federal workforce, Donald Kettl argues that despite disagreeing, Sherk and Howard have nonetheless laid out important problems in the civil service largely ignored by their opponents on the left. Too often, the public service has become the front lines of a proxy war over the size, shape, goals, and performance of government itself. This debate is not about how to use the public service to fight partisan right v. left partisan or ideological battles. If we disagree about those mega-issues, we ought to contest them directly, instead of fighting them out over the desks of those who go to work trying to do the public’s business. What matters most is creating a system that improves the government’s ability to do the public’s work. 

 In October 2019 Former president Trump signed an executive order to make it facile to fire federal workers. When President Biden, in January rescinded that executive order, some were relieved that federal workers were protected from political impinging. While others were despondent, they could no longer fire poor performers. The critical debate over the future of the federal workforce raised questions among right reformers. Questions that speak to the character of administrators in our constitutional system of governance and, indeed, the Constitution itself. The debate isn’t being joined by the left, besides blocking efforts to cut the number of federal employees. However, both sides are missing the important matter: how to make provisions in the federal government, so that services can be delivered to the public in the best way possible.

 Right reformer Philip K. Howard’s on his Op-ed in USA Today argued that “Public union power is largely an accident of ancient history.” and guaranteed a “Republican Form of Government”. In other words, “elected officials lack the ability to run government.” Trump administrator official James Sherk developed the details of Howards theory in a memo written in 2017. He argued that “There are legal arguments that Article II executive power gives the president inherent authority to dismiss any federal employee.” that created the legal foundation for the president to issue an executive order to dismiss any federal official without cause.

 The schedule F debate is far from over, pressing at state level. These arguments compound to create a true constitutional crisis about the ability of voters to shape government through the decisions of the people they elect. Since the dilemma won’t subside, we need to dig deeper into the four problems at play: the constitutional debate; the question of firing feds; the problem of accountability; and the challenge of agile government.

Sherk and Howard’s contention based on Article II of the Constitution that holds that the executive power should be vested in the president. It so profoundly happens that the article they cited does not say what they say it says. That part of the Constitution was vague, and the founding fathers were far more concerned with creating the chief executive that they knew and ensuring that the power of the president could be checked by the other branches. In Federalist 70, Alexander Hamilton wrote about the president’s connection with citizens, the power to appoint ambassadors, and his power with respect to the legislature. There’s nothing about the ability to fire federal employees. In truth, the founders didn’t explore how to remove federal bureaucrats.

“At the center of the case for a radical change in the civil service system is the argument that, over time, it has evolved from a system that hires the best and brightest to one that protects the lame and the lazy.”  The protections provided to employees has evolved since the 2,600-word long Pendleton Act in 1883. Title V of U.S Code that contains the regulations to administer the civil service system, is more than 1,000 pages. The current merit system covers 80% more feds than the original act. Title V, in fact, covers only half of all the federal employees. There’s a very important discussion to be had about the need to figure out which policies ought to apply to all feds and the agencies they work for, and what flexibilities ought to be allowed to agency managers. According to Sherk and Howard we do a poor job of managing federal workers performances even though there is an initial probationary period and long-established due process protections. This issue arose from the assumption about the private sector: that private managers can fire employees with less hassle and do so often. There aren’t any records of private sectors firing employees at a faster rate than in the federal government, but there are anecdotes about outrageous behavior by both private sector workers and federal employees.

There’s evidence that, during the Trump administration, members of the career civil service slowed, obstructed, or sometimes ignored the policies laid out by superiors to undermine the Trump agenda. They were understandably enraged, but more fundamentally it framed the central battle: how much authority political appointees should have in pursuing the president’s agenda, and what responsibility career officials should have in repelling on issues they believe are immoral or illegal. 

Trump administration officials are angst with their inability to force a policy agenda through a federal bureaucracy they viewed as obstructionist, at best. Scholars have uncovered substantial evidence that political meddling in the work of government would “reduce the effectiveness of government and increase corruption,” There are laws that stop federal employees from blocking the legal decisions of their political superiors, based on political differences. The issue here is how best to ensure that the federal bureaucracy acts professionally on the political choices made by voters. What the debate does not need is an executive order that hides the big questions in the fog of an ideological war. It needs an out in the open debate.

We need a way forward that builds a government and a merit system that fits the needs of the 21st century. Before the creation of the civil service system, the federal government was plagued by incompetence, corruption, and political favoritism. Mission matters most. The fundamental purpose of the public service is to do the public’s business. Merit is key. The basic principle of hiring people for what they know, not who they know, has been the foundation of the public service since the very start. So, of course, is the principle of separating people who don’t effectively serve the public’s mission. Accountability lies at the core. Like every other element on American government, we need effective accountability for public employees. Human capital ought to drive the pursuit of performance. Viewing government employees as the government’s most important assets and creating a system that finds and nourishes those most important to achieving its mission. 

When it comes to federal employees, it’s unclear about how much partisan bias there might be. In any event, every public servant swears an oath to serve the country, not their partisan beliefs. It’s time to shift the debate about the public service from partisanship to pragmatism: how best to accomplish the work of the people, with a workforce expert enough to do the job.

By: Tanezha Mingo

https://www.govexec.com/management/2021/06/battle-public-service-just-beginning/174839/