If a new report from the Partnership for Public Service and Booz Allen Hamilton is any indication, the federal civil service will be ground zero of a looming blue disaster. The report’s findings are troubling, to say the least: the federal government does not know how to train, employ or pay its employees. It doesn’t know how to promote or fire them. It isn’t shifting them into retirement properly or hiring qualified new ones at all. It is recruiting people for clerical jobs that don’t exist before outsourcing work that actually needs to be done to contractors. The Alpha and Omega of the blue model faith—the federal government and the civil servant—are caught in a self-made cycle of failure and decay that threatens to bring the blue model to its knees.Politico quotes from the report:
“Unable to compete for and retain some of the high-end skills and lacking the capacity to handle many critical day-to-day tasks, the government often has to look to outside contractors for the intellectual capital and know-how that is needed,” the report said. “There also is an absence of clarity and consequence regarding individual and organizational performance. Top performers seldom receive sufficient rewards, poor performers are rarely fired or demoted, and managers are not held accountable for how well they manage employees or the outcomes of the work they oversee.” […]“Only 9 percent of the federal workforce is made up of people younger than 30 — compared to 23 percent of the total U.S. workforce,” the report says. “By 2017, nearly two-thirds of the Senior Executive Service, our nation’s career leadership corps, will be eligible for retirement, and about 31 percent of the government’s permanent career employees will be able to head out the door.”
Obamacare’s botched rollout was a good example of a blue tendency to fall in love with the vision of a program while neglecting its implementation. The people who want the federal government to take on more responsibility, not less, have not made it a priority to see that it’s capable of doing so.The fact that the federal government cannot attract young people to join its ranks should also be disconcerting to blues. Millenials form a core base of President Obama’s support. According to the report, few among them have any interest in working to implement his programs, and the government wouldn’t know how to hire and keep them even if they would.Reforming the civil service isn’t as sexy an undertaking as federal gun control or climate change legislation. But the people arguing for a larger and more active federal government have a responsibility to help make it a priority.