Feeling RESIGNED: Federal workers’ reaction to looming shutdown

April 6, 2011

The Federal Eye Blog asked federal workers to describe the mood in their department or agency in one word. Many responded with the word “resigned.”

From an Education Dept. employee:

“I’ve been working for the Federal Government for 7 years, and the hardest part of this experience is actually the never-ending continuing resolutions. (We’ve sort-of stopped wasting time thinking about a shut down b/c it isn’t very productive.) The problem with the CRs is that we don’t have a BUDGET to do anything-- we can’t even get approved, in some cases, to get office supplies! Bigger issues, like halts on travel and an inability to get overtime/comp hours impact our ability or desire to do our jobs effectively. And, of course, there’s the obvious embarassment of constantly having to tell the public, “Well, we don’t know if we can fund that program yet or not, because WE DONT HAVE A BUDGET.” ...All in all, it is very frustrating, embarassing and not productive....”

From a State Dept. employee:

“Lack of information sharing from top management. We don’t know who is “essential” and who is not. We are not briefed regularly and don’t know much about the processes, if any, we are to follow if this disaster does happen. We are pretty much being treated like children who should just stay in the background and do what Mommy and Daddy say, when the time comes.”

From an IRS employee:

“Congress playing politics with federal workers is one of those things that seems to come around fairly regularly, and I can’t do much about it. The prospect of missing part or all of a paycheck isn’t a financial emergency for me, so I’m not going to stress about something I can’t control.

The question I have to ask is, ‘What happens to young, recently hired employees who are making relatively low salaries, facing the high living costs of DC, and haven’t had a chance to build up a “rainy day” fund yet?’ When Congress treats those young employees like what they do doesn’t matter, they discourage the best and the brightest from pursuing careers in public service.”

Now we want to know: Is your agency telling you anything about its contingency plans if a shutdown were to occur? Tell us.

And share your response to these frustrated federal workers in the comments below.

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