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Being a Federal Employee...or Working For The Man

Actinguy1Actinguy1 Registered User regular
edited April 2012 in Help / Advice Forum
Greetings, super friends! I was recently notified that I am the hiring committee's first choice for a government position I applied for a few months ago. They still have to get final approval, but they were updating me on the process and making sure I was still available.

I am VERY excited...especially because I've been unemployed for two months after getting laid off from my part-time 12 dollars per hour job, and this is a GS12 position in Washington DC (75k, not including my housing allowance for pursuing my master's degree with the post-9/11 GI Bill).

So, needless to say, I'm definitely taking the job (assuming the approvals all get...approved). But I'm curious if anyone can give me tips on being a federal employee. I'm ex-military, so I guess I'm looking for comparisons and contrasts to that, mostly. How the GS pay scale works, benefits, vacation, whatever. Thanks for any guidance you can provide!

tl;dr ...REALLY? It's only three short paragraphs!

Actinguy1 on
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Posts

  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    I've been a fed and a contractor for the fed, so I have a bit of insight...but take what I say with some grains of salt, as I have never worked in Washington, which is known to be a MUCH stricter culture than the fed offices I've worked in on the west coast. Since you came from the military, a lot of the minutia BS should be pretty well known to you.

    That said, some things to remember:

    * Prepare to have a meeting for everything. In fact, prepare to have more than one. The federal government is a meeting culture.
    * Prepare for things to feel like they are taking forever to complete. When I moved from private sector work to government work, it took me a year to finally realize that things just happen slower. See point one.
    * It's not always what you think it is. This was the big one for me. I had a lot of expectations about what working for the government was like, and most of them weren't true. Aside from things moving glacially slow it's a lot like having a private sector job.
    * That said, one thing that is very different is the high school-esque procedures and drills. Get used to feeling like a high school student several times a year as you are required to do training with pop quizzes and participate in various safety drills.
    * Since you're going in as a fed, you won't deal with this directly, but contractors are second class citizens and are made aware of it on a regular basis. As a fed, try not to be that guy. Contractors work just as hard, or harder, than you do but don't have any of the benefits of being a federal employee (like pension and being almost unfireable). Treat them as valued participants, because they are.
    * Get ready for your performance reviews. No matter how good of a job you are doing, your managers WILL find something you do wrong, and they WILL harp on you for it. This happens at least once a year depending on the agency. You will also be expected to complete and present a progress plan to "fix" whatever inane "issue" your manager found. Yes it's as stupid as it sounds.

    I'll probably think of some other stuff later, but that should get you started with some things to think about. I'm DoE at BPA in Oregon, so everything I say is through that prism. It's a much more relaxed culture than in Washington (I wear jeans and a polo to work every day, for instance), so there is some stuff I just can't give you insight on.

    GnomeTank on
    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • EncEnc FloridaRegistered User regular
    Actinguy1 wrote:
    Greetings, super friends! I was recently notified that I am the hiring committee's first choice for a government position I applied for a few months ago. They still have to get final approval, but they were updating me on the process and making sure I was still available.

    I am VERY excited...especially because I've been unemployed for two months after getting laid off from my part-time 12 dollars per hour job, and this is a GS12 position in Washington DC (75k, not including my housing allowance for pursuing my master's degree with the post-9/11 GI Bill).

    So, needless to say, I'm definitely taking the job (assuming the approvals all get...approved). But I'm curious if anyone can give me tips on being a federal employee. I'm ex-military, so I guess I'm looking for comparisons and contrasts to that, mostly. How the GS pay scale works, benefits, vacation, whatever. Thanks for any guidance you can provide!

    tl;dr ...REALLY? It's only three short paragraphs!

    Better safe than sorry.

    Live by this rule as soon as you are hired. Get everything you do in writing, don't open any files or documents you are not allowed to do. Research your unit's policies and procedures and KNOW them. Don't trust a non-supervisor's word for anything, get it in writing writing writing. The main thing I've taken away from my years as a government worker is that there is no wiggle room for breaking compliance like there can be in the private sector. Document everything for yourself and your work, and you should be just fine.

    Also, be sure to hound your HR dept. for all the benefits information available.

    Guns make you stupid. Better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duct tape makes you smart.
    3ds Friend Code: 5043-2266-3066
  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    What Enc is saying must be a D.C. versus field office thing, because here at BPA, nothing outside of security is that stringent, and we run the entire power grid for the pacific NW. As long as you aren't being an idiot, you should be fine in terms of any sort of compliance.

    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • EncEnc FloridaRegistered User regular
    That's a good point, too. The cultures of local, state, and federal vary greatly. I'm state, and in this state things are super rigid. Federal is probably the most by the book, from what I know.

    Guns make you stupid. Better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duct tape makes you smart.
    3ds Friend Code: 5043-2266-3066
  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    I'm fed, but even fed varies wildly from place to place. Like I said, D.C. is known to be super strict by comparison to our culture out here in Portland.

    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • Dunadan019Dunadan019 Registered User regular
    Gs pay scale: every year for the first 3 years you will (unless Congress stops it like some want to) Getty a step increase which will be about 1-3k a year depending on your grade. More raises will follow at a slower pace after that. You can be denied a raise if your perforce is poor but that's not common. Since you are ex military you probably don't have to worry about any possible future reductions in force (layoffs) since you get preference.

    There are only three real ways to jeopardize your job with the govt. Don't mess up with safety, security, or sex and you'll be fine.

  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    Yeah, the fed hiring process is whack as shit. Basically your direct manager that will actually work with you has very little say in the hiring process. HR basically does the entire thing and just hands your manager a list of candidates, in order of points total. There are rules about who and when they can skip over, but they can never skip #1. Those points are based on a variety of things, but being ex-military basically gets you 10 points for free. So two equally qualified candidates (as far as HR is concerned), one is military, the military guy gets it.

    Here's the issue: HR is stupid as fuck and doesn't know how to hire for a lot of positions. They hire on buzz words, and you can game the system super easy when you are filling out your KSA's. When I was hired as a FTFE, I was passed over through two hiring processes because the guy ahead of me was military, but my manager refused to hire the guy, because he wasn't qualified (he was working here as a contractor already, he was a known quantity), but HR didn't care, or was too stupid to realize it, so they kept passing the guy through as the #1 candidate.

    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    As a side note, I'm not an FTFE anymore, I won't back to being a contractor. The pay is better, I already have my own retirement, my insurance through my consulting company is comparable, my hours are more flexible, and I've been here long enough to be treated like a valued team member, not some random contractor.

    I did lose some union enforced benefits like a bigger cubical and free access to the health club, but it was nothing major major. The one thing I did lose that I miss is my electric adjustable desk that allowed me to raise it and stand and work. Only feds can get those. Oh well, I'll deal.

    GnomeTank on
    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • Actinguy1Actinguy1 Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Thanks for the responses! Everything you guys are saying is basically what I'm expecting (and a lot of what I experienced in the military). I was only an E-4 in the military, so I was quite surprised to even be considered for a GS12 position...much less the #1 choice...but I've apparently shown the initiative and drive that they are looking for in this position, because I created a charity that deals with a lot of the stuff this organization deals with. Interesting what you said about the hiring experience, GnomeTank. A friend of mine from the military became a federal employee, and he's really guided me through this process. He said a lot of the same things you did, but the people who interviewed me were the Director, deputy director, and assistant to the director for my department. I'd be working directly for the director. Haven't heard from or met anyone from HR.

    Anyhow, thanks again for all the responses!

    Actinguy1 on
  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    Also, be prepared to inundated with "Suchandsuch is retiring after 30 years of service, come have coffee and cake with us!" emails...the fed is in a word place right now, where a lot of the older boomers are retiring, and they are having to bring in fresh blood. It's a strange dichotomy. Almost everyone I work with is old, nearing retirement, or young, under 35.

    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • Actinguy1Actinguy1 Registered User regular
    Good, room for me to advance! ;c)

  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    Here's a secret about working for the fed: If you spend at least half your time actually working, and not in pointless meetings, or checking facebook, or talking on the phone, or whatever, you'll advanced fast as shit, because you'll look "driven". I actually had to take my foot of the gas when I started working at BPA, because at full speed, I was outpacing how fast they could get me work. I was coding myself out of a job.

    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • OrestusOrestus Registered User regular
    I'm a fed in Washington, 7 yrs on the job at this point. There are some broad themes like Gnometank already mentioned, and I agree w/ all the points he made; alot of the specifics are going to depend on what agency you work for, as I see huge variations between my agency and some of the other ones I interact with regularly, so its tough to generalize on a large scale.

    Only real advice I have that hasn't already been mentioned is that you want to make sure you are taking full advantage of whatever retirement plan you are offered; it will probably be something that allows for pre-tax donations on your part that are matched by your employer up to a certain amount, make sure whatever that is that you are at a minimum putting in the full amount to get the full match from your employer; leaving that on the table is just free money lost.

    If you have any specific questions about being a fed in Washington (living locations, commuting, etc) feel free to ask.

  • SatanIsMyMotorSatanIsMyMotor Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Ex-Federal employee here. I spent years working in the private sector for various business and got sick of the amount of work I had to do. I literally spent years trying to get into the government as I wanted a change in pace and something that was more "secure". Just last year I finally got offered a position and I took it - leaving a great job in the private sector.

    Well, when I started my work for the government I was shocked by the shift. I could not believe how SLOW things moved. The comment at the start of the thread regarding having meetings for everything is an understatement. We would have 3 meetings for everything. I was shocked by how inefficient things were. Normally, I would simply try to address those inefficiencies but I quickly came to realize that these things are put in place purposefully. There are literally inefficiencies created so that people can have jobs.

    Needless to say, after 3 months I realized that I had made a terrible mistake and I resigned from the job. Luckily my old job took me back. It was easily the biggest mistake I made in my life.

    That being said, some people love government work. It just definitely wasn't for me.

    Edit: What GnomeTank said above is also totally true. You need to measure how much work you actually do. I had a manager get angry at me for completing a presentation in a day. When I brought it to her she said, and I quote, "I've put this presentation on a 4 week timeline. I'll look at it then."

    It was a 10 page powerpoint...

    SatanIsMyMotor on
    steam_sig.png
  • EncEnc FloridaRegistered User regular
    The degree of inefficiency and corruption varies from office to office, but it is definitely there (typically the closer you get to the top and appointed positions in your unit). The closer to entry level you are, the more work and unreasonable demands you will face. This is also why it is important to document, as those with fluff jobs tend to keep them by removing threatening or observant employees through manufactured problems/emergencies.

    Typically, though, if you do your shit, know your shit, and be friendly you'll do well.

    Guns make you stupid. Better to fight your wars with duct tape. Duct tape makes you smart.
    3ds Friend Code: 5043-2266-3066
  • OrestusOrestus Registered User regular

    Edit: What GnomeTank said above is also totally true. You need to measure how much work you actually do. I had a manager get angry at me for completing a presentation in a day. When I brought it to her she said, and I quote, "I've put this presentation on a 4 week timeline. I'll look at it then."

    It was a 10 page powerpoint...

    I haven't experienced something like that in my position...in general one of the nice things about Fed work is, like gnome said, if you are motivated, intelligent, and competent, you can really stand out because there are going to be alot of people doing the same work as you who are not. (I'm not sure this is different than most private sector jobs though, outside of top elite firms in some fields).

    I do agree thought that you tend to get longer than you'd think to put something together; like I'll get asked to do a report on something that takes me a couple hours of research and writing and they'll give me a week deadline; when I turn it in at the end of the day though no one is upset about it.

    I had a private sector summer internship at a big pharma company where I showed up and in the first week they gave me a file reorganization task to restore order to the department's files. I dug in and had it taken care of in a day and a half. When I asked for more work they told me that was what they had planned my whole summer would be spent on....

  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    Yeah, deadlines are almost laughably long on stuff. I have a month and a half to complete a weeks worth of work. On one hand, this gives me insane flexibility to do things the way I want, and to sort of fart off if I want...on the other hand, it's very likely I'll run out of work two weeks before the deadline and be bored as shit for two weeks.

    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • joshgotrojoshgotro Bloat much? Columbus, OhioRegistered User regular
    Where does one find one of these slow paced jobs?

  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    joshgotro wrote: »
    Where does one find one of these slow paced jobs?

    Work for the government. Particularly in the non-defense agencies. I would suggest the DoE, because that's who I work for.

    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • adytumadytum Registered User regular
    joshgotro wrote: »
    Where does one find one of these slow paced jobs?

    usajobs.com

    Be prepared for a long and painful hiring process.

    etxvv5.jpg
  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    You can also generally get in much faster as a contractor, if you are in the kind of work that does contract stuff (development, business analysis, project management).

    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • Natas_XnoybisNatas_Xnoybis Registered User regular
    Congratulations, and GS12 to boot, well done!

    Is this a permanent position or a term position? If this is a term appointment then from the get go you need to figure out what you need to do to turn your appointment into a permanent position.

    I have been working for Big Brother since 2 weeks after 9/11, and had to play the term game for a long time (permanent now though). If your position is permanent, then congratulations that is one of the bigger hurdles already taken care of.

    As far as things being slow/inefficient I think a lot of that depends on where/what you are doing. I work for a research institution, we are considered one of the premier scientific organizations in the world, but our overhead is ridiculous. Generally when we get projects the understanding is that while we are more expensive than the private sector, we do kickass science... /shrug.

    as for your military background, my 2cp is that can only be a plus, provided you can accept the fact that you are in the civilian world now. (worked with an ex-Gunnery Sargeant who never really accepted he was no longer a Marine(yes yes, once a Marine always a Marine) and that got old fast).

    GS pay scale: http://www.opm.gov/oca/12tables/html/dcb.asp
    As a GS12 step 10 you cap out at just under 100k, not too shabby.

    Benefits are great!

    Vacation, this will vary from org to org. For me I generally have use or lose vacation at the end of each year. My work is flexible enough that I can pretty much take off time whenever I want to as long as I get my projects done on time on budget etc. Generally speaking probably much more flexible than the private sector. I do not miss the 2 weeks per year private sector style.

    I hate Computers
    GIS is evil
  • Natas_XnoybisNatas_Xnoybis Registered User regular
    hmm yeah reading some other posts, since you are in the DC area, probably a lot more "by the book" then out here in New Mexico.

    I hate Computers
    GIS is evil
  • OrestusOrestus Registered User regular
    I think the earning of vacation is standard for all Fed agencies:

    http://www.opm.gov/oca/leave/html/annual.asp

    So for the first 3 years you earn 4 hrs of time off every two weeks, for a total of 108 hrs per year (26 pay periods/year x 4). A day off is 8 hrs so that means in year 1 you are getting 13 days off a year. After 3 years it jumps up to 6 hrs of time off every two weeks, for a total of 156 hrs per year, or almost 20 days off. So basically after 3 years you earn a month off a year.

    And that is only for time off for personal reasons. Sick leave is separate.

    Once you hit that 3 year mark, you can get in really good shape. You can carry over a maximum of 240 hours (30 days per year), so if you are frugal in your first few years, you get in a situation where the year starts and you are already capped out, so you have to take at least 20 days off just to get to the baseline and not lose anything.

  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    Oh wait until he learns about the joys of comp time and time entry.

    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • Actinguy1Actinguy1 Registered User regular
    Thanks again for all the replies!

    I had similar pacing issues while I was in the military. There was a six month period where I could literally do my week's work by lunch Monday, and everyone was happy about it. Then I transferred to another base and quickly discovered that I needed to sloooooow doooooown. ;c)

    Yes, it's a permanent position. VERY excited to be doing something I enjoy, for a LOT of money (compared to my part-time 12 bucks an hour job I was laid off from), for the forseeable future. Assuming, again, that all the paperwork actually gets signed.

    Thanks for the info regarding vacations, etc. I had a month off every year when I was military, which I usually split into two two-week vacations back home. But I was living overseas then. Now I'll be close enough to drive for family visits on long weekends, etc, so I can save up the vacation time for some real adventures. ;c)

    I don't want to wait to learn about comp time and time entry! I wanna know now! ;c)

  • ThroThro Registered User regular
    GnomeTank wrote: »
    Oh wait until he learns about the joys of comp time and time entry.
    *shudders*
    I'm an unusual case, but currently I spend about 20 hours a biweek trying to fix my pay. That's State Department though: they're, special. Check your paystubs, especially if you do comp time or overtime, since mistakes happen.

    Also get used to the word biweek, I guess.

    I was DoD, civilian engineer before in the DC area. Yeah, things could have gone faster. However, we were a small branch, and my bosses did a good job shielding us from most of the BS so we could spend more time actually designing and building stuff.
    How well your group does work and the atmosphere is going to come down to luck, bosses and coworkers.

    Speaking of bosses, while I don't know your department, there are several that employ both active military and civilians, with your bosses often being military (cause something something Army leadership). Some haven't had to work with you civies before, and will treat you like military. Don't let them; you aren't (anymore). If you work longer than your normal hours, you get comp time or over time. Probably comp, since it's cheaper for your employer. You can rack up enough for a nice vacation or several long weekends. It does expire after a year, and it's kinda a pain to do all the forms to get it approved, and then earned. And then used.

    I will say that inside the beltway, you will be expected to dress nice and follow most of the BS that the fed is known for.

    Each department has a different employee rating system. The civilian one is going to be different than the military one as well. Unless you are exceptionally terrible, it's not anything to worry about getting you fired. It does effect bonuses and raises though.
    Actually the only thing that will get you fired (that takes less than a year to process) is violating the terms of your clearance, if you have one. So don't do that.
    Actinguy1 wrote:
    I was recently notified that I am the hiring committee's first choice for a government position I applied for a few months ago. They still have to get final approval, but they were updating me on the process and making sure I was still available.
    Again, I can't say that my expierience is typical, or is what your experience will be. However, I was also the first choice hire; it took 4 months after the interview to recieve an actual offer. One more month before I could actually start working. Budget accordingly.
    Oh, and get that offer, with the payscale, in writing. Me, no problems. But man, I have heard some stories.

    This all came off kinda negative, when it's really not that bad. My DoD job was actually the best job I've had, and I really liked it.

  • OrestusOrestus Registered User regular
    We have a nice web-based system for time entry and I doubt I spend more than 5 minutes on it every two weeks. Comp time requests are just a webform in that system that you fill out like 2 fields and send in for approval.

  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Orestus wrote: »
    We have a nice web-based system for time entry and I doubt I spend more than 5 minutes on it every two weeks. Comp time requests are just a webform in that system that you fill out like 2 fields and send in for approval.

    Yeah, so do we, but it's still a big pain in the butt, because there are strange rules around your first 24 hours of comp and a bunch of other crap.

    Honestly, I was glad when I went back to being a contractor. It actually made my time management way simpler. I enter what I worked, I get paid. I'm not playing "fill the comp time bar" games in time management.

    GnomeTank on
    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • Dr. FrenchensteinDr. Frenchenstein Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    Have fun never getting fired!

    My mom worked for SSA, and she had an employee that WAS CAUGHT ON TAPE defrauding her time sheet. She was a turd in general so my mom tried to get her canned, but my mom's boss just got her transferred.

    I am not suggesting you do such a thing, but don't be surprised if your coworkers get away with murder.

    Dr. Frenchenstein on
  • Natas_XnoybisNatas_Xnoybis Registered User regular
    Have fun never getting fired!

    My mom worked for SSA, and she had an employee that WAS CAUGHT ON TAPE defrauding her time sheet. She was a turd in general so my mom tried to get her canned, but my mom's boss just got her transferred.

    I am not suggesting you do such a thing, but don't be surprised if your coworkers get away with murder.

    crappy supervisor is crappy supervisor. In recent years they have taken steps to make it easier to get rid of people or at least demote them. A fairly common thing to do with problem employees is to put them on performance review, if they can be shown to not performing at their current pay grade they can be downgraded. Basically the message sent is "shape up or ship the f-out"

    Comp time, credit hours, etc. we use a program called Quicktime for pay, and Govtrip for travel, neither are shining examples of amazing software, but they could always be worse. The org I am with is pretty flexible. While I have a salary I do a lot of field work and am allowed to collect that as either overtime pay or as comptime. Comptime is seperate from your sick leave, annual leave banks, and depending where you are at... hmmm you just need to ask your HR people how comp time is handled in your org as it really varys. What applies to me, might be completely different for you.

    I hate Computers
    GIS is evil
  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    Current fed here. A lot of the things said are true.

    At a GS-12 don't be surprised if you'll spend an entire day having meetings. 8-10 hours of them. Not get anything done other than meetings. It's ridiculous at times.

    Keep good paperwork. You can do a lot of things without paperwork, but good paperwork is sometimes the only thing that separates career employees from ex-fed employees.
    Get approvals for all purchases.
    Don't try to make policy. DON'T TRY TO MAKE POLICY. I'm fucking serious about this. If you go in and make waves and try to change things they WILL fire you or do everything they legally can to make the job so unbelievably miserable that you want to quit. I've seen it happen twice within the last 6 months. Someone gets in starts engaging in office politics and gets on their soap box, and then a new post shows up on usajobs.

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Have fun never getting fired!

    My mom worked for SSA, and she had an employee that WAS CAUGHT ON TAPE defrauding her time sheet. She was a turd in general so my mom tried to get her canned, but my mom's boss just got her transferred.

    I am not suggesting you do such a thing, but don't be surprised if your coworkers get away with murder.

    crappy supervisor is crappy supervisor. In recent years they have taken steps to make it easier to get rid of people or at least demote them. A fairly common thing to do with problem employees is to put them on performance review, if they can be shown to not performing at their current pay grade they can be downgraded. Basically the message sent is "shape up or ship the f-out"

    Comp time, credit hours, etc. we use a program called Quicktime for pay, and Govtrip for travel, neither are shining examples of amazing software, but they could always be worse. The org I am with is pretty flexible. While I have a salary I do a lot of field work and am allowed to collect that as either overtime pay or as comptime. Comptime is seperate from your sick leave, annual leave banks, and depending where you are at... hmmm you just need to ask your HR people how comp time is handled in your org as it really varys. What applies to me, might be completely different for you.

    Yeah, it's way easier to transfer people than fire people anywhere, and shuffling the dead weight out of your department is the lazy and quick solution. Most people don't like firing people.

  • Natas_XnoybisNatas_Xnoybis Registered User regular
    edited April 2012

    Yeah, it's way easier to transfer people than fire people anywhere, and shuffling the dead weight out of your department is the lazy and quick solution. Most people don't like firing people.

    yeah the old *floating employee* who, for some reason, keeps on getting passed from project to project to project. Yep we have some of these, typically they get along with everyone, are close to retirement, but do fuck all, and because everyone likes them nobody is willing to start they paperwork that will get them fired/demoted. That said I have seen this in the private sector as well though.

    Natas_Xnoybis on
    I hate Computers
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  • Actinguy1Actinguy1 Registered User regular
    Just a quick update...I got the job offer! Accepted of course, I start in two weeks. Thanks again!

  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    Awesome, congrats.

    The floating employee thing happens, but it's not nearly as common as people make it out to be. Most people who work for the fed are good, hard working people. If things happen slower at this level than in private companies, it has a lot more to do with management, red tape and regulations than it does overtly lazy employees.

    And yes, it absolutely can happen in the private sector, especially at larger companies. Two fold for companies that do a lot of government contract work, and thus end up getting subjected to a lot of the same regulation and red tape as the real government.

    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • schussschuss Registered User regular

    Yeah, it's way easier to transfer people than fire people anywhere, and shuffling the dead weight out of your department is the lazy and quick solution. Most people don't like firing people.

    yeah the old *floating employee* who, for some reason, keeps on getting passed from project to project to project. Yep we have some of these, typically they get along with everyone, are close to retirement, but do fuck all, and because everyone likes them nobody is willing to start they paperwork that will get them fired/demoted. That said I have seen this in the private sector as well though.

    I work for a Fortune 100 company and see it every day.

  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    edited April 2012
    GnomeTank wrote: »
    Awesome, congrats.

    The floating employee thing happens, but it's not nearly as common as people make it out to be. Most people who work for the fed are good, hard working people. If things happen slower at this level than in private companies, it has a lot more to do with management, red tape and regulations than it does overtly lazy employees.

    It's also a lot to do with the relative size and scope of the different organizations. Just as an example, keeping an airport running requires a daily collaboration of personnel from the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Commerce, and because each Department also has a wide variety of responsibilities outside the realm of airport management, they all have to run their own budgets and have their own management structures. And it's not really feasible to separate the people who handle airports out and combine them into their own unified administration because then you'd get into a situation where customs agents in an airport were being managed differently than customs agents in a seaport, or at a border crossing, just for instance.

    I mention this because I think it's helpful to know when getting into a government job -- the never-ending meetings for which you're girding your loins? They're actually kind of important. I couldn't speak to every agency or department, but for a lot of offices, there are so many moving parts and interested parties that need to be knowledgeable about the goings on from day to day that they can end up being indispensable. If you're a budget manager at TSA, you're better off having daily hour-long meetings with each of your project managers than having a two-day marathon meeting at the end of the month when a Congressman from Chicago calls to ask you why replacement carry-on X-Rays haven't arrived for O'Hare after two weeks of security delays, and no one had even told you that the old machines broke in the first place.

    It's frustrating as shit when you first experience the Meeting Culture because you feel like there's more valuable things that you could be doing with your time, but it gets better when you realize that even if any particular meeting isn't necessarily beneficial to you, it might be really important to someone on the other side of the table.

    Anyway, congrats on the new job! Let's have a meeting about it next week.

    SammyF on
  • GnomeTankGnomeTank Registered User regular
    I understand how it works, but having lived and breathed fed work for quite some time, the idea that all those meetings are "necessary", and that they can't be made more efficient, with a faster and better decision making structure, doesn't jive with me.

    The fact of the matter is, the federal government is pretty much the most risk averse place you'll ever work. On one hand, that's understandable, given the microscope the fed is under. On the other hand, it creates an incredibly inefficient decision making structure, that makes every little decision in to a huge "project" that needs to go through all these stages. It also creates a culture where no one is willing to step up and make a decision, because it's their butt on the line, rather than being a culture of shared responsibility.

    Sagroth wrote: »
    Oh c'mon FyreWulff, no one's gonna pay to visit Uranus.
    Steam: Brainling, XBL / PSN: GnomeTank, NintendoID: Brainling, FF14: Zillius Rosh
  • SammyFSammyF Registered User regular
    I think it probably makes a difference by position and location -- most everyone I know works on budgets, and they're required to be informed about basically every aspect of every project they fund since they have to field questions about how they're spending other people's money from Congressional staffs, CBO, and OMB whenever anyone sits down to write a budget that will never get passed. Most budget meetings are therefore consequential and informative to at least a few participants for that reason.

    I can't say I have any idea what it's like out in Portland for a DOE coder. I guess I could imagine most of your meetings being more on the pointless end of the spectrum.

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