The litany of change that has rippled across government since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks can be cited by almost any federal employee.
The loss of lives at the Pentagon and World Trade Center. The mourning and sadness. The reaffirmation of teamwork, sacrifice and dedication.
The mega-merger creating the Department of Homeland Security. Federal screeners at airports. Tougher inspections at borders. A restructuring of the intelligence community. Transformation at the FBI. The list can go on and on.
Donald G. Hands, chief steward for the American Federation of Government Employees at the Portsmouth (N.H.) Naval Shipyard, sums up 9/11 changes this way: "Wow!"
If there is one area of consensus on 9/11, it's that the horrific attacks renewed appreciation for public service and the contributions of federal employees.
"It was after September 11 that the public perception of public servants seemed to change -- a recognition that they were on the front line, as highlighted this past week by Katrina," said Colleen M. Kelley, president of the National Treasury Employees Union.
In addition, "the priority of the security function has been raised dramatically by 9/11," said Max Stier, president of the Partnership for Public Service.
Tourists find it harder to sightsee in Washington; the public finds it more difficult to get into and out of federal buildings.
At the National Academy of Public Administration, C. Morgan Kinghorn, the president, said he thinks 9/11 has made federal service more attractive to private-sector professionals who had not considered working in government. Hannah Sistare, a NAPA fellow, believes 9/11 created a more favorable climate for federal employees in Congress, which she said has supported new dental benefits and larger student loan repayments.
There's also a sense that 9/11 has added to the pressure of federal service because jobs are seen as more important and because, even though fighting terrorism may not be their primary duty, all feds feel the weight of homeland security more.
"It is such a continually changing environment that it has got to be stressful for people working in" defense, homeland security and intelligence agencies, Kinghorn said.
William L. Bransford, counsel at the Senior Executives Association, and Hands of AFGE believe federal employees are more focused on their work since 9/11. "Most federal employees take their jobs very seriously, and they work very hard. And you could say that about a lot of people before, but it is more so now than before," Bransford said.
The sense that their jobs are more important also has made some employees more willing to expose mismanagement and corruption, said Danielle Brian, executive director at the Project on Government Oversight.
She sees more federal employees willing to raise their concerns in public, even though whistle-blower laws do not cover Transportation Security Administration screeners, FBI agents and employees in intelligence agencies.
"People are coming forward," she said. "When they see real holes in homeland security, they feel compelled to come forward."
The focus on homeland security also created a rationale for creating more rigorous systems to measure the performance of federal employees and link job ratings to pay raises. As part of the workplace changes, the Bush administration also has moved to curb the clout of unions in government.
"It seems there is a tremendous uncertainty about what the future structure of the civil service will be, and that uncertainty leads to a certain anxiety," Bransford said.
Even though the administration's plans to overhaul pay practices at the departments of Defense and Homeland Security are moving slowly, Kelley said the proposals "have generated a lot of resistance."
If anything, 9/11 seems to have put a stop to talk about cutting federal jobs or bringing an end to "big government."
Data on full-time executive branch employment show that the civil service grew by 5.2 percent between fiscal 2000 and 2004, mostly because of hiring for homeland security.