There is only one thing worse than people who believe that all federal employes are lazy. It's people who believe that federal employes enjoy being lazy.
These cynics think federal employes spend all day handicapping the races and calling their cousins on the WATS line. Everybody knows they can't be fired, the cynics say. Nor can bosses tell them to get off their duffs because the bosses might be hit with a human relations complaint. So according to this folk wisdom, federal workers feed at the public trough year after year, give nothing back, suffer no pangs of conscience and care only that their pensions keep up with inflation.
Would you like to hear how it really is in the federal trenches?
Here is a letter I got the other day from a secretary at the Internal Revenue Service who requests anonymity:
"I would like to know if you could help me solve a problem.
"When I was a secretary (GS-5), I worked all day long. I wondered if I should think about getting a GS-6 job because how could I be busier than I was already?
"I got my GS-6 job June 4, 1984. I work about eight hours (tops) each week. The rest of the time I call the branches and ask if I can help (which gets old after a few times a day), I read The Washington Post, do the crossword, write personal letters and read library books.
"I'm sure you know about Reagan's five percent cut for the government employes or his firing of 275,000. Who do I tell that I need more work without losing my job?
"My boss knows it, but I am a feather in his cap. When you get to be a GS-15, you get a secretary. It doesn't matter if you can keep the secretary busy or not.
" . . . .I'm sure there are others in my position who don't want to be out on the street but do want to work eight hours a day, not just sit . . . .I would appreciate it if you could pull any strings to get rid of this waste and to make our jobs more interesting."
Ms. Anonymous, you don't need strings pulled. You need to talk to your union representative, or directly to the Office of Personnel Management, or to both.
I'm as irritated by this state of affairs as you are, and I refuse to believe that the proper authorities wouldn't be, too. If there isn't a place in the federal labyrinth for someone like you who wants to work, and work hard, then the termites have done more damage to the system than I thought.