Thursday, April 26, 2012

Proud to be a public servant

The General Services Administration (GSA) hit the news first with their shameful conference excesses in Las Vegas, and then the Secret Service gets caught with prostitutes while traveling in Columbia. It’s never a good time for government employees to do stupid things, but in today’s economy and political climate, it is even worse. As a government employee myself, the behaviors displayed in these incidents during the past week make me sick.

I just want to urge everyone to realize that for every screw-up like these idiots perpetrated, there are lots of dedicated public servants who realize we are working with taxpayers’ dollars. I make every effort to reduce travel expenses when I must go somewhere for work.

I’m actually on travel as I write this. I’m sitting in a suburban Holiday Inn after riding a low-cost bus to DC (see my previous Megabus essay at This clean but basic hotel is in an “office park” area with nothing interesting nearby. However, it does offer a free shuttle van to the subway station about 15 minutes away. The only advantage to staying here is that the rates are about half of the authorized amount to stay in the DC area. I’m saving big bucks by riding the Megabus to Union Station, catching a Red Line Metro train, transferring to the Green Line, riding to the end of the line, and then calling for the shuttle bus to drive me several miles to the hotel. [Please note that I don’t report all the expenses I could, such as the cost of the subway fares, nor do I seek overtime pay if traveling requires a longer day—technically, I could claim these expenses, but this is part of my personal effort to cut costs.]

I consider it a privilege to be a public servant. I was always interested in government, and I’m proud to do my best for my fellow taxpayers. I’ve got a bachelor’s degree in political science, a master’s degree in public administration, and a law degree. Had I only been interested in money, I could have earned a lot more in a traditional legal career, but I chose the public sector. I’m proud to work for the American government and to serve my fellow citizens.

I learned about government from intelligent and, indeed, patriotic teachers from high school through college and grad/law school. Unlike some people who landed a federal job just because it was a steady job during a time when jobs are in short supply, I trained and longed for the opportunity to work for my government. [Some of you may recall the essay I wrote ( about taking my oath of office.]

I know American history, I realize the sacrifices that others have made, and I understand how we have progressed over time (I also made sure my students learned some of these things in my part-time job teaching college classes). I may be biased, but I think those of us whose educational background prepared us to be public servants do a better job than other college majors can do as government employees. In my mind, MPAs make better government employees than MBAs.

Thus, please don’t assume that every horror story you hear about government employees wasting your tax dollars applies to all of us. There are lots of dedicated employees who don’t make the news, because the vast majority of us are NOT wasting taxpayer money.

No comments:

Post a Comment