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Can federal workers change perception of them on Capitol Hill?

We asked:

What do you think can be done to change the negative perception of federal workers among some lawmakers on Capitol Hill?

You said:

The simple answer is nothing. The current Congress is so polarized and unbending that no amount of work will yield a change in their mind-set.

If I put my happy face on and think about what I’d like to try, it would be a “Take Your Congressman to Work Day.” They really have no idea what a federal worker does each day to try and implement the laws they have passed.

The need to balance conflicting legal requirements, do so without the resources needed to be effective, set priorities about what isn’t going to get done and keep a positive attitude to a taxpaying public who thinks you’re a leach on society because their congressman is stoking them up.

Imagine your congressman working the border with ICE, screening cranky airline passengers, deciding a Social Security disability case, maintaining a nuclear weapon, operating the system of dams and power plants on the Columbia and Colorado rivers, defining the technical requirements for an F-35, ensuring a drug trial is properly designed and implemented, providing counseling to a veteran, ensuring that aircraft take off and land without running into each other, deciding whether the latest toy is safe for children, ensuring that drinking water is safe, snatching a terrorist in eastern Afghanistan. . . .

My bet is most members of Congress couldn’t begin to keep up.

Donald Macdonald
Idaho Falls, Idaho
Department of Energy

Not a thing! Federal workers are the favored political pawns, and there’s not a thing we can do about it. It’s just best to keep doing what we do and ignore all of the posturing. We can’t win, no matter what we do.

Fran N. Hogue
San Diego
Department of Labor

From GovLoop

“The Partnership for Public Service has the right perspective on this issue.  By working with them to trumpet our successes, through programs like the Service to America Awards, we can educate new lawmakers about the many accomplishments of everyday government employees.  Let's invite them to recognize federal employees in their districts who have achieved worthy accomplishments.”

Terrence Hill
Human Resources Specialist
Department of Homeland Security

I don’t really believe Congress . . . has such a negative opinion. We are simply very convenient whipping boys (and girls). The administration and all the executive branches in general do a horrible job illustrating the great work some do. It’s not an easy job celebrating people who basically work on infrastructure. It’s boring to talk about standards, regulation and “process” even though they save lives, make food safe and insulate investors from crooked parties. Focusing on individuals with real accomplishments is always a better story. Put faces to those “faceless” bureaucrats. Either that or produce “The Feds . . . a Musical.”

Sandy Ressler
Computer Graphics Visualization Engineer

National Institute of Standards and Technology

To read additional responses and weigh in, visit washingtonpost.com/federal eye.

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