MeriTalk - Where America Talks Government
Darryl Perkinson

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Posted: 5/21/2008 - 0 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

We've all heard and read about the impending loss of civil servants who are approaching retirement age after a life of serving the American public. Our democracy, in large part, has been sustained by the millions of civil servants that report to work daily. Despite the upheavals and policy shifts that occur on regular intervals from political outcomes, the citizens of this nation are positively impacted in many ways by the hard work of civil servants. 

There is a growing concern in our agencies about the future of the government and the services it provides to serve, protect, and defend these United States of America.
Concern comes in part from the increased strain that deficit spending is causing on the political landscape.
As we are witnessing in political debates and discussions today, the supposed cure is some form of lowered taxes or the irresponsible elimination of programs that are viewed as unnecessary by the politician giving his or her speech of the day.
The reality is that tightened budgets already contribute to problems in areas where civil servants are truly needed. Recent negative stories about food inspections, infrastructure oversight, airline delays and paperwork backlogs are in large part the result of a shortage of government workers to carry out these necessary tasks. In order for Congress to correct those deficiencies, it must adequately fund agencies to carry out services deemed essential to protect and serve the American public.
Another major concern for the future of government service lies in the lack of appeal civil service seems to have in attracting and retaining the best and brightest. The appeal of public service as a career has waned thanks to the constant negative remarks heard and seen in the media. The general perception of the dull (or worse) bureaucrat and the seemingly boring nature of government jobs have made serving the public a distant thought for the graduates of our schools today. Additionally, it needs to be said that government has not made it easy for this generation to find employment as a civil servant. A complex and difficult application system with poor response times contributes to the problems.
These problems need to be addressed now to avoid a critical breakdown of services as a result of the retirement tsunami that will hit us over the next decade. There must be a serious discussion about what jobs are inherently governmental and need to be properly funded to best serve the American public.
Just as importantly, government needs to find a way to modernize its employment practices and ease the application process.
The public servant shortage must be confronted by the next Administration and Congress. The discussion must not be drowned in the acidic political rhetoric that has occurred in the past.
This country has been a great and successful experiment. Many have sought to emulate our culture and system of government. It would be a shame if we allowed our ignorance and inattention to this problem to be the fatal blow that destroys our government services and the resulting improved quality of life they provide to each and every American.