The Washington Post

Readers speak out about VA, CFC, IRS and tribute to federal employees


The Federal Diary gets lots of reader reaction via e-mail, snail mail and online posts. Some of it is fit to print. Occasionally, we give readers a chance to speak out by publishing their remarks, edited for clarity and length. You can speak out by sending your comments about issues covered in the Diary to

Joe Davidson writes the Federal Diary, a column about federal government and workplace issues that celebrated its 80th birthday in November 2012. Davidson previously was an assistant city editor at The Washington Post and a Washington and foreign correspondent with The Wall Street Journal, where he covered federal agencies and political campaigns. View Archive
Measure what is important

After a long career in the federal government, I think it is a matter of time before other agencies in the government suffer the same fate of the Department of Veterans Affairs. I am no stranger to metrics, as I wrote them for others and had to achieve them for my organization. What I found in the past several years was that instead of measuring what was really in the mission statement — what we should be doing — we measured what we could do or what we could count. The goal then became how to get to the right numbers so that we could be considered successful. Those that strived for outcome-based goals or stretch goals were considered naive.

Congress and the American people need to understand that the services they want and expect carry a price — just like the TV does that they buy. We deserve to respect, honor and provide for the veterans of this country, just as the Environmental Protection Agency needs to do what it takes to administer the Clean Air Act and just as the Affordable Care Act must be given the attention and the resources it needs to do what is contained in that law. But it cannot be done on the cheap. It is far too easy to throw stones when something is not working as hoped or the resources have been underestimated. Unfortunately the critics are louder than the people who are trying to do the job.

I left government discouraged that voices like mine were being ignored — but it was not without some sadness and regret that I left.

Ann Simeone, Washington, formerly with the Department of Homeland Security

Former CFC donor

I would like to add my voice to your piece regarding federal contributions to the Combined Federal Campaign. Many people such as myself simply do not give through the CFC because we want 100 percent of our donations to go to the charities of our choice. I learned 20 years ago that my donations through the CFC were reduced right off the top because the charity I wanted to give to was forced to go through the United Way to even be listed as a CFC charity. There is a CFC overhead that is not deducted from my donation if I give directly to my favorite charities. Therefore, I do not take part in the CFC campaign. I gave over $4,700 to charity in 2013, and I know that each and every organization received every penny of what I pledged.

Ryan Simmons, Ellicott City

Tribute to feds

I was delighted to see your column that gives tribute to federal employees and was surprised to see so many fresh, young faces! This is a wonderful trend, and I hope it continues. We are expected to lose a ton of experience and accumulated knowledge to retirement in the near future.

I hope this column and photo serve as recruitment material for our federal workforce. Pay alone is not going to cut it with today’s college grads coming out hugely in debt!


Helen Ganster, Leesburg

IRS cuts

Your column about the IRS had particular relevance for me.

I recently received a notice from the IRS that I owed a fair amount of money in additional taxes for 2013. I called the 1-800 number to try and talk with someone about the notice (the IRS is incorrect in assessing me the additional taxes). I waited about 45 minutes before I got to talk with an actual person. He was very pleasant to deal with as I explained my situation. Unfortunately, he said he was unable to handle my case because he was not trained on the particular schedule at issue in the case. He expressed regret at not being able to address my problem and said he would make what he called a “tech referral” to someone who could possibly help me.

So your column on the consequences of cutting the IRS budget certainly has affected this taxpayer.

I encourage you to continue to buttonhole IRS officials and members of Congress to restore IRS funding to an acceptable level. I believe most taxpayers want to comply with the tax code, but we really do sometimes need help.

Joseph Lowry, Arlington

Twitter: @JoeDavidsonWP

Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
The New Hampshire primary is Tuesday. Get caught up on the race.
The feminist appeal may not be working for Clinton
In New Hampshire, Sen. Bernie Sanders is beating Clinton among women by eight percentage points, according to a new CNN-WMUR survey. This represents a big shift from the results last week in the Iowa caucuses, where Clinton won women by 11 points.
The Post's Dan Balz says ...
This was supposed to be the strongest Republican presidential field in memory, but cracks are showing. At Saturday night's debate, Marco Rubio withered in the face of unyielding attacks from Chris Christie, drawing attention to the biggest question about his candidacy: Is he ready to be president? How much the debate will affect Rubio's standing Tuesday is anybody's guess. But even if he does well, the question about his readiness to serve as president and to go up against Clinton, if she is the Democratic nominee, will linger.
Play Video
New Hampshire polling averages
Donald Trump holds a commanding lead in the next state to vote, but Marco Rubio has recently seen a jump in his support, according to polls.
New Hampshire polling averages
A victory in New Hampshire revitalized Hillary Clinton's demoralized campaign in 2008. But this time, she's trailing Bernie Sanders, from neighboring Vermont. She left the state Sunday to go to Flint, Mich., where a cost-saving decision led to poisonous levels of lead in the water of the poor, heavily black, rust-belt city. 
55% 40%
Play Video
Upcoming debates
Feb. 11: Democratic debate

on PBS, in Wisconsin

Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

Campaign 2016
State of the race
Most Read
Failed to render /WEB-INF/jsp/features/most/sidebar/feature.jsp. Cause: An exception occurred processing JSP page /WEB-INF/jsp/features/most/sidebar/feature.jsp at line 116 113: ${globemail} 114: 115: 116: <%=list.get(0) %> 117: 118: 119: <%=list.get(1) %> Stacktrace:. See Server Logs for detail.



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.