Governments Civilian Employees

I won’t pretend to speak for civilian workers of the US Government. Yet, especially these days, someone needs to speak on their behalf. I’m qualified because I’m a retired Department of Defense Procurement Contracting Officer. I’ve also had the opportunity to have a few positions (jobs) in what the government calls the private sector.

It doesn’t take one long to realize being employed by a Government Installation can be a thankless job. One starts by sacrificing wage equality. A private sector position pays more than a similar government job. More than likely a significant enough amount that could affect the monthly economic lifestyle of the employee.

First employed in my early thirties, I was a late arrival to the field of Government. I’d just moved to the Bay Area from Milwaukee. Hired before the move by a lady (Ida) I would later call my West Coast Mother. All after taking a test, putting in an application for the Bay Area.  I began as a Supply Clerk in 1978 at DSR PAC Alameda. I sat across from an old veteran who’d been in the military. A wise former union representative. Someone who was what we’d call a lifer working for the government. It should be said, I am someone who always sucked up the experiences and knowledge from older people. I may not have used it when I should have but still acknowledged the expertise of older individuals.

His name was Arthur, who seems to relish the idea of schooling a younger man on what it meant to be a government worker. In short, he did an excellent job. Me being who I was had a lot of questions about this new environment. It was my first “good job” as the old folks say. I spent a couple of years learning the ins and out of Government employment under Ida and Arthur. I learned to always be fair and professional. Both were excellent employees, had pride in their job, a hundred percent committed to their responsibilities. Lo and behold, I’d found my kind of people.

You find that Government encourages one to take training courses to move up in a chosen field. Although I saw many people, who settled in positions because they liked it. Even at that, the additional training was there for one to become more proficient in their work. Either available to you or presented by your department to improve the units work processes. Seventeen years later, I took early retirement as a Department Director of Procurement. I wouldn’t have if our Base had not gotten wrapped up in political upheaval, ended up on the closure list.

Nowadays you hear about so many political issues at the Defense Department because of the Trump Administration. The need for a loyalty pledge to the Donald? Government employees are loyal to the stars and stripes flag, not individual administrations, Democrat or Republican. Just like the FBI, they’re bound by law to not be political in their duties.

Why is their work always suspect when compared to the private sector? Often used as an example of close to freeloaders by politicians. They are often derided when it comes to funding for wages or benefits. Their salaries are used as a political football when it comes to the congressional fight for funding of the next fiscal year. Since they are paid with taxpayer’s dollars, politicians have used them as targets for a wink, wink blame somebody campaign. They say they have poor work habits, too many positions in the fields, undisciplined and often unqualified, lack of ability to be replaced for substandard performance. In short, they are blamed for everything wrong and nothing right as a workforce for the United States Government.

These dedicated people do not have a spin room. They are forbidden to be political. They have no one to stand up, speak on their behalf. They all have an agency head that is politically selected by the current administration. Do you think anyone as a Trump appointee is going to defend the work or dedication of these employees?

And the biggie, a complaint that comes from almost all those who contract with the government. They say there are just too many rules and regulations one has to deal with when working with the government. Why is everything so complicated, they wonder while complaining to their congressional representative. This question has brought about the “Deregulation Phrase’ in the past, especially the current Congressional Administration.

Yet when the food you buy in the grocery store become inedible. Livestock or poultry are fed contaminated grain, etc. Fallout from water, air, waste, and chemicals polluting the same. How about safe travel through or landing from the sky? Ensuring that the transport of all goods across our highways, on trains, planes are regulated to be safe from the public. Ensuring that your dollars are insured, safe in Banks. And the ones that only a few years ago almost cost financial destruction in this country, loans, mortgage, and pension stability.

Yes, Government employees are embedded in our society to protect us from whatever. They are on duty come rain, flood, freeze, drought, or fire. They service the American public and military during peacetime or in the event of a war or conflict. They are visible when you look for them, invisible when the need arises. In fact, the entire US military does not deploy for war, games, or any other reasons without civilian employee support. For they have to eat, sleep, be clothed, armed, paid, including allotments sent to their loved ones. In other words, civilian workers support our military forces in almost all that they do on a daily basis.

Try to imagine how many private sector companies are depended upon contracting with the government. Or those companies/employees that are indirectly benefiting from governmental presence. No one in Government service can go on strike. If employees were allowed to walk off the job, it would bring this country ability to function to a screeching halt.

The rules, regulations are their guideline to perform their duties. Having worked under the FAR (Federal Acquisition Rules) and DFAR (Defense Federal Acquisition Rules) among other instructions. There are a few takeaways from my experience in Procurement as a Contracting Officer (CO).

One must always keep in mind that you are spending Taxpayer Funds. The guidelines are there for you to properly expend those funds. The formation/implementation of the contract is to bind the government with the provider of Goods and Services on specific details required during the agreement. From the time a request for procurement is placed by a government entity, there is one overall goal. Accurately identify what is needed, get the best deal available from a reliable source of delivery possible for the US Government.

I use this example to point out what seems to an unknown truth to a politician. While performing the duties described above, you can imagine there is no room for an undisciplined, lazy, inexperienced employee anywhere in that role. So, the next time you hear a politician downplay the role of government in any field. Realize that individual must have an ulterior motive for trying to undermine the very system he or she too is obligated to protect.

Yes, there’s too much regulation? Some old guidelines should be changed. But then it should be a fair process for all concerned, not a partisan attack slashing regulation to benefit a select few. So once again, when you hear politicians, the public putting down the government, realize that the person has no real clue. Or they have a much secret agenda for speaking in negative terms.

Peace & Blessing…stay vigilant for our American rights. Make it a day in which Jesus Christ would be proud of you,

 

Codis Hampton II

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