Disregard for the Country’s System of Government and Disdain for Public Servants Make for Bad Policy, Poor Leadership in Trump Administration

Reading and listening to recent remarks by Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney reminded me of the 2011 movie Horrible Bosses. Sadly, the all-too frequent negative attacks and disdain directed at the federal workforce from the Trump administration are daily real-life scenarios playing out in the lives of millions of people, far worse than anything on the big screen.

Having served the American people for 35 years as a federal employee, I can tell you that relocating agencies and workers is not something the federal government takes lightly. Nor has relocation proved to be an across-the-board effective best-practice that benefits taxpayers. Relocating federal agencies is expensive and complicated, but perhaps Mr. Mulvaney – with his six-figure salary – never had to face the economic, emotional and environmental challenges of uprooting one’s career and family.

Agency relocations do not happen overnight, and often they involve the input, and sometimes authority, from other branches of government. According to a report from the USDA’s Office of Inspector General, the USDA relocation referenced by Mr. Mulvaney may have violated a 2018 appropriations act that requires Congress’s approval to fund the move – something the Trump administration did not obtain.

This should come as no surprise since ignoring Congress’s role and a blatant disregard for facts have become hallmarks of the Trump administration. Its proposed merger of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) with the General Services Administration (GSA) has skirted Congress’s oversight and shows an incredible lack of due diligence. Additionally, documented instances of the administration denying facts and undermining science and research efforts in decision-making have drawn criticism from industry, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and policymakers on both sides of the aisle.

Having managed and led hundreds of employees in my federal career, I can tell you that Mr. Mulvaney’s comments epitomize a lack of leadership rather than years of experience managing programs and people. Don’t just take my word on this: Check out Google’s Project Oxygen or Monster.com’s piece “What Makes a Great Boss” and you’ll see that negative comments and divisiveness do not make the list of attributes of remarkable leaders.

By stating that relocation efforts such as the USDA’s pending move to Kansas City would combat liberals “making sure government lives forever and that it gets bigger” proves that politics, not sound policy, is driving decisions from the executive branch. Mr. Mulvaney’s own words erode esteem and deplete morale in the federal workforce – the very people upon whom Americans depend to ensure their medication, food and flights (among many other things) are safe; social security checks are processed and civil rights are not violated. Undoubtedly, his damaging remarks will not improve the government’s efforts to attract and retain a highly qualified, top-performing workforce.

Perhaps Mr. Mulvaney is living in an alternate universe, one in which harsh banter and ineffective policies drive people to succeed. Reality, however, is that most federal employees are hard workers who take pride in serving the American people – even those like Mr. Mulvaney, who devalue their existence and degrade their profession.

Like employees in the private and nonprofit sectors and, well, anywhere, federal employees thrive and perform exceptionally under effective leaders – republican or democrat, liberal or conservative. Instead of spewing negative commentary and being out-of-touch with federal employees, the Trump administration should reflect on its leadership, or lack thereof,  to learn why federal employees are unhappy or quitting their jobs. As the old adage goes, “people don’t leave companies; they leave managers.”

Ken Thomas
NARFE National President


 

National Active and Retired

FEDERAL EMPLOYEES Association

NARFE (National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association) 606 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314, Phone: (703) 838-7760, Fax: (703) 838-7785.

 

This is the only website that reflects the official opinions and positions of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE). Opinions and/or positions that appear on any other site bearing NARFE's name or seal are not necessarily those of NARFE. Click here for Privacy Statement.   NARFE has been certified by Dun & Bradstreet.

Disregard for the Country’s System of Government and Disdain for Public Servants Make for Bad Policy, Poor Leadership in Trump Administration

Reading and listening to recent remarks by Office of Management and Budget director Mick Mulvaney reminded me of the 2011 movie Horrible Bosses. Sadly, the all-too frequent negative attacks and disdain directed at the federal workforce from the Trump administration are daily real-life scenarios playing out in the lives of millions of people, far worse than anything on the big screen.

Having served the American people for 35 years as a federal employee, I can tell you that relocating agencies and workers is not something the federal government takes lightly. Nor has relocation proved to be an across-the-board effective best-practice that benefits taxpayers. Relocating federal agencies is expensive and complicated, but perhaps Mr. Mulvaney – with his six-figure salary – never had to face the economic, emotional and environmental challenges of uprooting one’s career and family.

Agency relocations do not happen overnight, and often they involve the input, and sometimes authority, from other branches of government. According to a report from the USDA’s Office of Inspector General, the USDA relocation referenced by Mr. Mulvaney may have violated a 2018 appropriations act that requires Congress’s approval to fund the move – something the Trump administration did not obtain.

This should come as no surprise since ignoring Congress’s role and a blatant disregard for facts have become hallmarks of the Trump administration. Its proposed merger of the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) with the General Services Administration (GSA) has skirted Congress’s oversight and shows an incredible lack of due diligence. Additionally, documented instances of the administration denying facts and undermining science and research efforts in decision-making have drawn criticism from industry, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and policymakers on both sides of the aisle.

Having managed and led hundreds of employees in my federal career, I can tell you that Mr. Mulvaney’s comments epitomize a lack of leadership rather than years of experience managing programs and people. Don’t just take my word on this: Check out Google’s Project Oxygen or Monster.com’s piece “What Makes a Great Boss” and you’ll see that negative comments and divisiveness do not make the list of attributes of remarkable leaders.

By stating that relocation efforts such as the USDA’s pending move to Kansas City would combat liberals “making sure government lives forever and that it gets bigger” proves that politics, not sound policy, is driving decisions from the executive branch. Mr. Mulvaney’s own words erode esteem and deplete morale in the federal workforce – the very people upon whom Americans depend to ensure their medication, food and flights (among many other things) are safe; social security checks are processed and civil rights are not violated. Undoubtedly, his damaging remarks will not improve the government’s efforts to attract and retain a highly qualified, top-performing workforce.

Perhaps Mr. Mulvaney is living in an alternate universe, one in which harsh banter and ineffective policies drive people to succeed. Reality, however, is that most federal employees are hard workers who take pride in serving the American people – even those like Mr. Mulvaney, who devalue their existence and degrade their profession.

Like employees in the private and nonprofit sectors and, well, anywhere, federal employees thrive and perform exceptionally under effective leaders – republican or democrat, liberal or conservative. Instead of spewing negative commentary and being out-of-touch with federal employees, the Trump administration should reflect on its leadership, or lack thereof,  to learn why federal employees are unhappy or quitting their jobs. As the old adage goes, “people don’t leave companies; they leave managers.”

Ken Thomas
NARFE National President


 



JOIN NOW!


Renew now!



NARFE (National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association) 606 N. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314, Phone: (703) 838-7760, Fax: (703) 838-7785.

 

This is the only website that reflects the official opinions and positions of the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association (NARFE). Opinions and/or positions that appear on any other site bearing NARFE's name or seal are not necessarily those of NARFE. Click here for Privacy Statement.   NARFE has been certified by Dun & Bradstreet.