City Desk

Fed Workers: Um, Actually, We Don’t Suck

Federal Workers March Back

Seeking to take advantage of the attention that Jon Stewart will bring to D.C. this weekend, a group of federal workers said they will also head to the Mall to plead a different case: basically, for the majority of America to stop hatin’.

GovLoop, a social network of over 30,000 government employees, will hold its rally–dubbed “Government Doesn’t Suck!”–near the National Air and Space Museum at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, a few hours before Stewart’s undoubtedly bigger, more popular “Rally To Restore Sanity.” The point is to reverse widespread anti-fed sentiments, which a Washington Post poll this month revealed are held by... most Americans.

We who live in and around the District might occasionally forget it, but many of our fellow countrymen don’t like what they think goes on here. Bureaucracy, seen as huge, anonymous, and burdensome, tends to give non-government people headaches. So GovLoop wants to put a face on those faceless federal employees and “to show the country that [they’re] capable of having a laugh,” according to its website. In other words: the almost 30 percent of city residents who work in government are people, too.

When last checked, 40 members of the GovLoop network have said they will attend, and 24 said they might attend.

Photo by Ibrahim Rustamov, via Wikimedia Commons

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  • bob

    So if you work for the government, then you enjoy the dept of motor vehicles, asshole government agents at the border and in airports, cops in general, and all the other crappy things the governemnt does to make our lives suck when we actually do come in contact with government employees?

  • Mrs. D

    Well, as a federal employee, bob, I will say that most of my interactions with the police have been totally positive. In cases where they have overstepped their bounds, I have politely declined to play their game and they give at a drunk driving checkpoint when they ask me where I'm going and I say "Somewhere that you don't need to concern yourself with. I will answer whatever questions you have about my driving but nothing else," and they leave me alone (really, the police don't think about your rights in these situations, they're not TRYING to violate them, it's just an honest and seemingly innocuous question that, once you tell them is NOT OKAY, they get over). When I have needed the police, they have been there in droves, Capitol, MPD, undercovers, and others, ready to help. Friends visiting the area often comment how nice the police here are when asked for directions and other stupid tourist questions. Even the cop who gave me a ticket that I deserved about a year ago was quite nice about my protestations that the sign was not visible and simply gave me instructions on how to contest it. And my neighbors and I often have friendly, brief conversations with the police walking and biking through our neighborhood on patrol.

    The DMV wait is TERRIBLE, but the people who have helped me there in DC have been generally polite and friendly. ONE (ONE, to repeat) guy at the inspection station didn't acknowledge my polite request for him to scrape off my old registration sticker, but DID hear me and did it without asking a second time or any attitude (he didn't even have to scrape it off, really).

    Meanwhile, I have had some VERY positive experiences with DC government employees. It's rare that I encounter a rude 311 operator, or service provider at other government agencies. I have called about serious problems that seem impossible to fix (Comcast first among them), and had them resolved in less than a week. I recently called 311 about a series of problems, and they had me on and off the phone, service calls logged within 10 minutes. The problems were serviced within 48 hours and resolved within 2 weeks. I'm not sure I can ask for more.

    I have only encountered one asshole at the border, and I'm not even sure he was a government employee (he was directing arriving passengers into the Customs lines and was kind of a dick). Others have been very nice, even jovial. One inspection guy even let me pet his dog when I couldn't resist the adorable beagle (I asked first, because it's only polite to ask any dog master first, especially a working dog, and he did insist that the dog check my luggage first, but that's the dog's job, after all).

    If you were to call me (if you had any interest in what I do, my name and direct phone number is published in the federal register about once a month) I would answer whatever questions you have in a polite and thorough manner. I have spent HOURS on the phone with people angry about what our agency does (trust me, there are many more American citizens who are happy with what we do), and they typically thank me when our conversation is complete. I have had people call me screaming and cursing who have thanked me after I explain our process, how to get involved, and what, exactly, is going on. Honestly, for these people, it's PRIVATE sector employees they have to blame for not keeping them informed of government action on their business. Lest you think that we're just dicks for doing what we do, American companies ASK us to do what we do, and it's those benefiting from corrupt FOREIGN activities that are mad at us. But still thank me after spending an hour or more on the phone explaining the process. I never leave a phone call unreturned for more than 24 hours, no matter how busy I am, no matter if it means staying late to call someone in California or India, or answering emails after 9 PM. Oh, and I also don't get paid overtime for staying late. Congress decided to exempt the government from that when they reformed overtime.

    Oh, and did we forget to mention that, despite all the negative sentiment, 67% of those surveyed who have interacted with a federal employee say that it was a positive experience and that the employee was helpful and solved their problem? Are there lazy, incompetent people in the government? Sure, like anywhere else, but they're not the majority. The statistics bear out that government employees serve the public well, despite their perception.

  • Native JD

    As a federal worker, govloop sucks.

  • Private Sector

    I hate all people who choose to work for the government, only weak minded drones who don't have the guts to make it in the private sector or strike out on their own become government workers. I spit on all of you. Your 'rally' is nothing. You are nothing.

  • Edgar

    Govloop does suck.