Federal government incompetence

I don’t want this to sound like a political blog and it’s not directed at a specific political party. As usual it’s an observation from my personal life.

As readers should know, I am sending out resumes because I plan on leaving military service next year. Since I won’t be retiring from the military, it behooves me to get a federal civilian job so my years in the military will still count towards my retirement. In that light, I’ve been perusing USAJobs.gov, the “official” web site for federal service.

This site claims to be a one-stop shop for finding and applying for federal positions. Last time I visited there were more than 25,000 jobs listed. You are able to create a resume, search agents, etc. just like any other job site. The big deal is supposed to be that, once you find a job, you can apply directly for the position using the information you’ve posted to USAJobs.gov. But guess what? That’s not totally true.

In true government fashion, there’s a lot more BS to go through. Not every federal agency uses the site in the same way. Some do let you apply online directly from USAJobs.gov using your resume. However, there are at least seven agencies I’ve applied with that list an opening on USAJobs.gov but then require you to fill out a brand new resume using their online form. And then there are the ones who make you go through all that and then force you to look through their own job listing area.

Hello, I thought the point of having the USAJobs site was to eliminate this redundancy. Having made a “stellar” resume once, I don’t want to do it every single time I apply for a new job. And since I’m constantly revising my resume, there is simply no way I can keep all of them up to date.

This leads to the title of this post. The incompetence of the federal government has become nearly a mindset. I see it at my job: my immediate management is lost when it comes to how we need to operate and when we had a brief from the bigwigs back East, they essentially admitted the same thing. Everyone has grandiose, “pie in the sky” plans but absolutely no clue how to put them into action.

Unfunded mandates are the name of the game; we are supposed to implement a enterprise-wide content management system yet we only have 3-4 people to do it, we don’t have licenses for the software, we don’t have a development lab for classified work, and we don’t have the money to do the job right. But it has to be done now and it has to be done right.

Have you ever heard of the Peter Principle? It essentially states that people are promoted to their level of incompetence. Once you reach a position where you are incompetent to do the job, naturally you won’t be promoted anymore. You’re already can’t do the job your doing now, why do you deserve a promotion?

I’ve noticed that this principle doesn’t apply in the government. If you’ve done the time and can make your resume look good, chances are you can find a better job. This is especially prevalent in the military. If you pass the test with a high enough score, then you get promoted, regardless of whether you actually deserve it. And in the senior ranks it simply becomes a political game.

Since you can’t really be fired from a federal job there’s no incentive to strive for perfection. If you are content in your position, you can work until retirement regardless of how you treat customers or how pathetic you do your job. And if you screw up enough to justify being let go, Human Resources is required to put you on an improvement track for three years. You really have to try hard to get fired from a government job.

So, that’s my rant. I hope it explains why there are so many jokes about going to the DMV.

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