Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Boomers to Bid Goodbye in March 09 (vs. November '08)?

Last week, I suggested that the Boomers may decide to depart in droves come November. The author of the article below suggests that the real target date is March 31, 2009, and is bold enough to suggest that half of the SESers will head for the doors once the appointees are in place. What do you think? Any SES'ers out there willing to share their thoughts?

Future Shock for Fed Workforce
Federal Computer Week
By Mark Amtower

There has been much discussion during the past few years about the aging Senior Executive Service population and when the tipping point of massive migration will happen. Many people smarter than me have been addressing this issue because it is an important one.

Here's my prediction: By March 31, 2009, more than half of the current career SES population will vacate their government jobs.

The average career person in the Senior Executive Service is now age 60 or older and has more than 30 years of service, making these persons eligible for retirement. These people have put in their time and have done great service for their country when they were not impeded by Congress, earmarks, inept appointees and other unnatural disasters.

Why March 31? By then, the first wave of new presidential appointees will be moving in and flexing their authority. All the SES population has been through this process several times, and it is never painless. Why in the world would they want to go through this process again, when some new appointee is going to come in and start to tweak things to reflect the current political climate?

Trying to educate a political appointee on the nuances of an agency's mission and the best ways to fulfill it can't be fun under the best of circumstances. I would rather try to teach my pet rock a new parlor trick.

Each time I write or speak about this, I get calls and e-mail messages (from home e-mail accounts) from many senior feds telling me about various frustrations. These calls come from all over the country. They come from several layers of management, from office managers to division heads and associate assistant secretaries. The level of pain is palpable.

So what does this all mean? Agencies have made little effort to fill the ranks immediately under the SESers, and consequently there is a severe shortage of top-level career employees. That translates to inertia, which in turn means there will be agency missions unfulfilled throughout government.
So my equation looks something like this:

New political appointees plus new priorities plus aging SES community equals 50 percent fewer SESers by the end of March 2009.

And that leads to:

Agencies minus SESers equals management voids and spending delays. That is, we'll see a strange sort of work slowdown.

This will lead to a 2009 end-of-fiscal year spending spree of mythic proportion. After that, it's anyone's guess.

Not that I have an opinion.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Mark Drapeau: "Eye or Pie in the Sky?"

A friend I follow on Twitter has written an excellent article regarding Government 2.0 over at Grand Central Political magazine.

An excerpt to entice you:

"As the Democratic National Convention starts in Colorado, it will likely be the most watched in history, due in no small part to media coverage. Now with Generation Y largely eligible to vote, "new media" including bloggers and online video propagandists will be detailing every bit of important news, all the mundane moments, and any juicy bits of gossip as much as the major networks and other more traditional forms of media.

The federal government itself will also be blogging."

I would encourage you to read the full article.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Boomers to Bid Goodbye in November?

I am not one for conspiracy theories, but what if the Boomers are just biding their time for a big moment when they decide to exit the workforce en masse?

What if that big moment was November 5, 2008?

Much has been made of the mass exodus of Boomers as many of them reach retirement age between now and 2015.

Surveys conducted by AARP, Merrill Lynch, and Harvard/MetLife revealed that most Boomers will not stop working completely. In fact, more than 60% said that they intend to cycle between periods of work and leisure. Two out of three respondents said they would NEVER retire. These survey results suggest that we should be cautious in making too many predictions about their career plans.

The impact of this impending departure could be even more profound in the Federal sphere where more than half of the workforce could collect their final full-time paycheck within the next 7 years. These estimates include roughly 90% of Federal executives.

But what makes this phenomenon even more intriguing for the public sector is the presidential election cycle. An article in Government Executive in May 2008 alluded to the idea that Boomers may use this moment as a good excuse to retire. Their primary reason may not be political, but practical: if you were a senior civil servant – not an appointee – would you want to weather the transition from one administration’s policies and procedures to another, especially if you had "been there, done that" several times before?

In other words, could the presidential election be a major catalyst for the much-anticipated, widespread wave of retirements from the Federal government? Are Boomers in your agencies suggesting such a change or submitting their resignations already?

Maybe we’ll have to wait until November to find out.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Government and Twitter

Just trying to capture all the Web 2.0 stuff that I find related to government. Another hat tip to Mark Drapeau for the lead on this site which highlights all the government folks on Twitter:

How about NASA for getting out in front of this trend in a big way!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

US Postal Service - Delivery Via Blog

In reading Mark Drapeau's great blogs over at Mashable, I learned that our very own U.S. Postal Service has a blog called Deliver Magazine.

Mark's articles are an excellent summary of Web 2.0 (well, as much as you can say in 1,500 words or less!)

Not much more to say on the USPS blog....just wanted to capture it here.

YouTube Channels: California and Coast Guard

In preparing for a workshop on Web 2.0 a couple weeks ago, I came across the State of California's YouTube channel. If you haven't seen it, you should check it out. The best video is below:

Guaranteed: 30 seconds that'll make you smile...not just because it's a clever video, but because it was government that was so creative.

You might also want to visit the Coast Guard's YouTube Channel. Right now, there is a Special Report that follows the Commandant. There are also inspiring videos with the Coast Guard in action - makes me want to join them! I suppose that's the point!

How does/could your agency use YouTube to deliver public service announcements or capture your employees being good stewards of our tax dollars? Do you have other examples of agencies using YouTube to deliver information and inspiration?

I'm also posting on http://www.govloop.com/ - if you go there from here and sign up, please cite me as your referral source!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Wikis and Government

I have been trying to keep track of the various wikis being used by government agencies. I just saw an article here that lists several. Of course, the article mentions well-known wikis like Intellipedia (intelligence community) and Diplopedia (State Department), but here a few that I didn't know:

OMB MAX Federal Community - open to Executive Branch personnel

OMB USAspendingGov Requirements Community - open for public comment on the Federal Funding and Transparency Act (first public comment wiki

GSA's USA Services Intergovernmental Collaborative Work Environment - See background - "incubator" collaboration space for 20 intergovernmental communities. See also the USA Services Web Managers Forum May 5-6, 2008 Annual Conference to view content rendered in the GSA wiki

U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit, Practitioner's Handbook - viewable by the public; edited by Members of the Bar

NASA Wiki for Object Oriented Data Terminology

OMB's MAX Federal Community - Executive Branch only

GSA's Collaborative Work Environment - Incubator space only, for intergovernmental communities exploring public-facing or closed collaborative work environments

GSA's Core.gov Collaborative Tool - wiki-like, collaborative environment for developing federal enterprise architecture components

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Filibuster by Twittering? Politics 2.0

There are many great stories about the use of Twitter, including someone who was sprung from jail in Egypt based on a single tweet: arrested. Now it seems that members of the U.S. House of Representatives used Twitter to inform the public about the proceedings of a debate on an energy bill last week. Here's an excerpt from an article in Computerworld:

Rep. John Culberson (R-Texas) posted to microblogging site Twitter at a little before noon Eastern time on Friday that the Democratic leadership had ordered the lights shut off and the C-Span cameras turned off as the House was adjourned. However, Culberson and many other Representatives stayed to debate the energy bill and protest the lack of a vote on the measure. Culberson has pioneered using Twitter to blog during debates and votes. He has noted that he uses Twitter to shine light on the floor of the U.S. house, which he describes as the "deepest and darkest hole in Congress."

These new tools continue to amaze me by their ability to transform the way we communicate with one another.