The Federal Diary gets lots of reader reaction via e-mail, snail mail and online posts. Some of the comments are fit to print. Occasionally, we give readers a chance to speak out by publishing their remarks, edited for clarity and length.
This reader reacts to legislation that would allow agencies to suspend federal executives before misconduct charges against them have been proven.
It was interesting to read in your column about the Government Employee Accountability Act introduced by Rep. Mike Kelly (R-Pa). It would “stop those under investigation from receiving salaries paid for by the very public whose trust they abused.” Of course, members of Congress and their staff are government employees, so I assume this act will apply to them as well? [Note: It does not apply to Congress.] Similarly for the Taxpayers Right-to-Know Act, which would require each federal agency to identify costs, expenditures and beneficiaries of its programs. I would hope each congressional office would provide a similar report. As for the agencies, this is already done in the president’s budget submission each year, which I imagine few members of Congress bother to read. It wouldn’t make good headlines to say that a federal agency is doing just what it said it would do in its appropriation request.
A column about the lack of whistleblower protections for federal contractors drew this response:
Thank you so very much for setting the record straight about whistleblower protections in the federal government. Your Aug. 13 column set the record straight that no such protection existed at the time of Edward Snowden’s actions in releasing classified information and that the policy directive does not cover government contractors, which can be interpreted to be a deliberate omission. . . .
You give voice to the plight of whistleblowers who did “follow the reporting procedures” and ended up only sucking-air.
There is a huge difference between “whistleblower” and “leaker.” A leaker gives out information for political and selfish gain. A whistleblower gives out information to let people know of corruption, illegalities and injustice. Monetary gain and political influence do not motivate a whistleblower. Whistleblowers speak at great risk in speaking truth to power.
A column last month reported on a drop in contributions to the Combined Federal Campaign (CFC), the charitable giving program for federal workers.
As a federal employee for 39 years and a contributor to the CFC the entire time, I can assure you that the primary reason for decreased participation/total giving is not a lack of compassion or desire but rather the recent (past four years or so) dissing of federal employees. Feds feel slighted by the Congress (pay frozen, benefits reduced, furloughs) and this is one way, arguably not the fairest, that they can show their displeasure.
Reporting on divisions among State Department employees caught this retiree’s attention.
I have never stopped eating my lunch to write to The Washington Post.
The issue you raise in today’s column is so personal to me. As a retired SES (Senior Executive Service) civil servant who started as a GS-4 at State in 1975, I know much about the differences between foreign and civil servants at State. During my years at State (I left in 2006), the issue of the role of the CS (civil service) cadre at State was a passion of mine.
In my years coming up the ranks, I heard comments from Foreign Service colleagues like “you are not like one of them” or “face it, you guys are the orderlies and we’re the doctors.” State has worked hard on the Foreign Service recruiting process to eliminate the Ivy League dominance of the Foreign Service. It has done a spectacular job of diversifying backgrounds in the Foreign Service. But the cultural divide between the foreign and civil services is still there.
State has instituted various programs over the years to provide more opportunity for civil servants. In fact some senior Foreign Service officers have embraced the problem and tried to institute real change.
However, most civil servants would still say that they feel the divide in the department and that it limits their career opportunities.
I happen to agree strongly with the points made by the American Academy of Diplomacy. Political appointees are increasingly working at lower ranks within State, and it affects the role of the career professionals. But if there truly were no divide between civil and foreign services, the report would have spoken about damage to the foreign relations experts at State — and not a single service.
This issue has been part of the fabric of working at State for decades.
Previous columns by Joe Davidson are available at wapo.st/JoeDavidson.