Over the last year, many displaced professionals managed to hire on with federal agencies. Will their private sector skills bring massive improvements to critical government services? Perhaps. To these pros, this work is like picking low hanging fruit. What will it be worth to the rest of us?
I remain certain that governments should not compete against private enterprise. To the delight of the current administration, existing insurance companies are slowly folding their tents and going out of the health care business. Competing auto companies are brutalized by Congress, while Government Motors celebrates its barely electric car.
The damage is inexcusable.
Yet, somewhere in this very ugly scene, I have detected one remarkable benefit for the U.S. taxpayer.
Setting The Table
While Congressional thugs ransacked the wealth of our country, they also jacked up the pay of Federal employees to absurd levels. Plenty has been written about this. Any fool can see it.
Meanwhile, the same crazed politicians crushed entire industries, companies, and even individuals who got in their way.
Many highly trained, highly disciplined, hard working professionals have been thrown out of work. No doubt, you’ve read about that, too.
Brain Power, Redirected
But these high performers are not fools. They, too, can see where the easy money is. And many have gravitated directly to the fastest growing, highest paying employer in the country: The U.S. government.
I am meeting more and more professionals who tell me the same story.
They were once high earners. Then they crashed. They stumbled into a good deal working for the government, and most don’t ever plan to leave.
Last week, I talked to a past VP of a major corporation who once earned “two and a half.” He put in long hours, invested heavily, and paid a medical price for the stress.
After the crash, he lost his job, his investments, and his home. He lost it all.
Now he works for the government, making excellent money. No stress. The day is done at five. And no work goes home with him.
He is applying for promotions into a dozen different agencies.
What Does This Mean To Federal Agencies?
I get much the same story from all the people I talk to about making the switch from private sector to public sector. Here’s how it goes…
First, these folks wander around and get oriented to their new positions. In no time, they start realizing that the people they work for are hopelessly outclassed by the real world. Unaware of how sloth and bureaucracy work, these new employees unthinkingly jump in with fantastic insights and techniques that are pretty normal for corporate America.
Occasionally, there is some friction about newbies showing initiative or having an actual personality; but the old guard has suffered so long with such poor tools that the way is quickly cleared for these miracle workers to do their thing.
I hear of people, bored out of their minds, upgrading computer systems simply because it seemed like the obvious thing to do. Entire federal agencies are being flipped from 1980s agony to current technology, as simply as Chinese peasants might get a cell phone.
Watch carefully as governmental services suddenly lurch out of the Dark Ages, mysteriously providing faster, better, more satisfactory services than U.S. citizens have ever seen.
Oddly, at a time when infuriated voters are in a mood to rip out chunks of governmental waste… perhaps, just at that moment, the services of the U.S. government may at last begin to impress.
Whether that will happen or not, the wave of high level talent – and I mean people holding triple masters degrees – may introduce more of the efficiencies typical of the extreme productivity required of the private sector.
Could the over burdened taxpayer experience smaller government and better services at the same time? Maybe so.
The Recruiter’s View
This happy vision comes at a price. The highly talented people that the U.S. government has effectively driven out of business and then pulled back into its own agencies, may be permanently lost to corporate America.
Here, again, we see tremendous brain power leaving Team U.S., away from the competitive arena of international commerce.
U.S. businesses will be left to search for talent from among whomever remains.