May 2017 Federal Employment Law Training Group Newsletter

My friend, Masahiro, is Japanese. From when we first met 25 years ago, we have exchanged letters periodically, discussing growing families, jobs, and crazy political leaders. His English is very good, which is fortunate because my Japanese is non-existent. Even so, sometimes he says something in a way I would not have, and which captures a thought that I understand perfectly that crosses both of our cultures. For example, over the years, Masahiro and I have each lamented at the lack of focus in our respective sons. My Joe took 18 years to get his college degree. Masahiro’s son is just beginning college with a similar non-focused approach to life. When describing that attitude, Masahiro said, “He has a good positive spirit, but often runs idly.” That’s a concept many parents understand, yet described in a refreshing different manner.

And perhaps that’s exactly what we need for the future of the civil service: a refreshing approach that captures our need for a protected public service, but using different concepts. Perhaps we need someone with a different point of view to look at the foundations of the oversight of federal career employment, and by using words we might not have originally, develop a different approach to what we do. We’ve floated an idea here at FELTG that would place a fair price on a government job and allow an agency to buy it back from the incumbent in a no-fault, non-adversarial manner. If you have similar outside-the-box ideas, why not use your official agency stationery and recommend them to OMB? As Barbara Haga explained in her excellent article a couple of weeks ago, you have until June 30 to suggest changes to our civil service. Get creative. Use a systemic approach. Don’t just nip along the edges. If you speak a foreign language, see if that experience helps you think differently. Just don’t write your submission in Japanese.

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