Depending on whom you ask, government workers can be described as anything from sheltered employees in a bloated bureaucracy who have cushy 9-5 jobs to dedicated public servants who go above and beyond to keep understaffed programs running on shoestring budgets.
No matter which vision of the current state of affairs you subscribe to, there is one point most can agree upon: With all the talk about impending budget cuts, there is going to be a need to “do more with less.”
Since that has implications for the workload of current government staff, the Federal Eye and GovLoop set out to take the pulse of government workers and see how many already work well beyond their normal eight-hour day.
While the reasons behind putting in extra hours varied, most responses to this week’s Federal Buzz question indicated that government workers frequently do take work home or work outside their normal working hours. Here are a few of the responses:
Lowell Marshall, Food and Drug Administration
Almost daily, due to the fact that I have a government-issued BlackBerry, and I run a very vibrant program. I don’t expect to be paid, and I’m not complaining about it, either. I’m proud to do what I do.
Michelle H., Department of the Treasury:
Every day, because we’re short-handed in my office and the work must get done — but I don’t get “overtime” as in extra money; I opt for “comp time” so I can add to my vacation time.
And no, contrary to what everyone might think — it’s NOT time and a half. If I work an hour I get only an hour.
Anonymous state government employee:
I have occasionally brought work home. There’s the random “look this up away from the net nanny” aspect of it where research is much easier done in the freedom of your own internet rather than the monitored and locked down one at work. There have also been a couple of times when I needed peace and quiet and concentration and the only way to get that was at home over the weekend. I do try to make it the exception, not the rule.
Different bosses have different expectations. and there is one with a “X must be done, don’t care how or why, just results” attitude ... others know and respect that you have a life and want to live it.
Sam Lovett, GovLoop fellow and former state government employee:
As part of my government work, I used to wake up early and compile a large report (a News Summary) of all the pertinent media stories related to my office. It was signed, sealed, and delivered to staff email inboxes before anyone arrived at the office. I was able to arrive to work a little late, but the equity of time didn’t work in my favor.
I didn’t get paid more for any of the extra work I put it, but the report was appreciated by my co-workers who recognized the time I gave up (and the sleep I didn’t get) so they could do their jobs better.”
Employee, Department of Veterans Affairs
As a human resources manager in a large federal agency, I live on my BlackBerry — while on leave, nights and weekends. My day typically begins at 6 a.m. and goes until 5 p.m., often with no lunch, so 15 hours of overtime per week. And this doesn’t include BlackBerry time! I figure with over 25 years of dedicated government service I have donated approximately 16,500 hours just to do my job.
Employee, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration
Almost every day. Budget cuts and uncertain future budgets have meant that we no longer replace staff that leave. I am currently doing my job and have taken on the entire portfolio of a colleague who left for another job.
Deadlines still need to be met, so I regularly work 10, 11, 12 hours per day, and usually check in over the weekend.
Employee, U.S. Army
I try to avoid working extra hours. Between the nine-hour days and the hour-plus commute, I don’t have enough hours in the day to work extra AND get enough sleep at night, let alone exercise, pay bills, etc. I’m single and have no partner to help me take care of the house. Everything is my responsibility.
Even if I did work extra hours, the Army does not pay overtime. Once I had accrued comp time that automatically converted to overtime pay because it had been on the books for 12 months, and my bosses were all over me about that.
Want to join the conversation? Let us know whether you work off the clock on Twitter using the #FedBuzz hashtag.
On GovLoop: Who Says Bureaucrats Are Lazy?