This month’s Bad Timing Award goes to President Obama, who signed a proclamation Thursday, as the possible government shutdown approached, naming next week “National Volunteer Week.” Furloughed federal employees are not allowed to volunteer to stay on their jobs, however.
(If the shutdown is averted, the award will be withdrawn.)
The State Department a while back initiated something called the Sounding Board, which was an in-house electronic town hall and suggestion box where the Foreign Service folks could discuss matters of import and get their views known to higher-ups.
Seemed fairly inside baseball for the most part, with many discussions about “overseas comparability pay” or medical evacuation policies or improving visa procedures and such. A good tool for internal discussion, though not worth spending a lot of time perusing.
But a recent discussion on the Sounding Board — about abolishing the Sounding Board itself — seemed worth a look. There was this posting, submitted by “Anonymous.”
“My real concern is the potential the Sounding Board has to embarrass the department,” the writer said, noting that “department employees are constantly derided as entitled, pampered bureaucrats who attend cocktail parties and live it up in Europe at the expense of the hardworking taxpayer.”
Some of that may be due to the inordinate media attention given to political ambassadors serving in fine European capitals vs. the majority of employees who work in unpleasant and even dangerous places.
The “stereotype is completely untrue,” the anonymous poster said, “but a casual perusal of the Sounding Board, particularly the many threads in which posters argue for more benefits, on top of the generous package we already have, could convince one otherwise.”
Then this warning: “A single ‘In The Loop’ item could damage the Department’s image for years to come.” (Demonstrably false.)
Another employee agreed. “I live in fear of the Washington Post reading one of the less-than-professional posts and having a field day!” she wrote.
(Note to file: Start paying more attention to the Sounding Board.)