As we celebrate Public Service Recognition Week this year, recognizing the hard work and best efforts of our federal, state, county, and local government employees, it gives me pause to reflect on my experience as a career public servant . I have been fortunate to have worked in many great agencies, and have served under several White House administrations. My job has enabled me to travel around the country and meet public servants in all corners of our 50 states. It has also provided me with an opportunity to receive direct feedback from our citizens. I can find no words to convey how I feel when people of all cultures, backgrounds, and ages come up and say “thank you.” I know they are not thanking just me, but the millions of public servants throughout the nation.
I recognize that, lately, it is a difficult time to be a public servant. You’d think that the morale and efforts of those who serve the public would be dimmed, in light of the current environment. However, as I look around at my coworkers and those I meet in other agencies, I see their lights shining as brightly as ever. Our public servants are as dedicated, passionate, and engaged as ever — working long hours, going the extra mile, and showing a level of caring for those that they serve. I’m proud to work with such dedicated professionals.
I have witnessed such dedication at all levels at the Commission. Having had the good fortune of working with our Chairman and Commissioners, I am constantly impressed with their work ethic and devotion to serving the public. Their days may start as early as 5 am and go well past 10 pm, with one event after another and little time in between – even to grab a quick lunch or dinner. Yet, even as they forgo personal time and tasks, I see that they always make time for anyone who approaches with a question, a comment, or just a greeting.
And this energy and attitude trickles down to all levels at the agency. I see colleagues — from staff assistants and analysts to team leaders and division managers — working tirelessly to meet our continuing mission. Although we have fewer staff members, a tight budget, and shrinking resources, our commitment and hardworking can-do attitude has not been diminished. Looking around in the early hours, the late evening, on weekends, I see the dedication representative of my stereotype of a federal employee, both here in Washington and in our field offices and facilities around the nation.
Additionally, I have traveled to most of our field offices. Their work, which often goes unnoticed, is remarkable. Armed with as little as a single operation office, they handle tremendously large regions. These dedicated public servants know their communities and are well respected members of the communities they serve.
Do these public servants fit the stereotype that is often bantered about? I think not.
For me, as for many, deciding on a life dedicated to public service was a choice. When I see the work being done here and throughout government and the huge impact we have on the lives of everyday citizens, I can honestly say that it’s been one of the best decisions I’ve made.
May every week be Public Service Recognition Week!