The Campaign Spot

250,000 New Federal Workers, Each with a 29-Page Job Announcement, Equals . . .

“What you plan and what takes place ain’t ever exactly been similar.”

     – Jayne Cobb, Serenity

One of the reasons that those of us on the right are skeptical of grandiose visions and grand five-year plans is that they rarely if ever progress without a hitch. They often go awry, have unforeseen consequences, create new problems, and have far-reaching ramifications that the great planners never foresaw.

Joe Davidson, writing in the Washington Post’s Federal Diary, offers an example of how the federal government struggles with the fairly basic and fundamental task of putting qualified people into the jobs they want:

My colleague Philip Rucker reported that independent estimates say 100,000 to 250,000 federal employees might be hired under President Obama’s $3.6 trillion budget plan.

The thought of Uncle Sam going on a hiring binge is frightening — but not because of a philosophy that says small government is better than big government.

It’s scary because the hiring process is messed up.

It’s so ineffective that some applicants get fed up and seek work elsewhere. It’s so incompetent that those who do get hired often are not matched with the jobs that best fit their talents or the needs of agencies. It’s so bad that a cottage industry has sprung up to help people navigate the hiring maze.

Davidson notes that “the job announcements by some agencies run to 29 pages” and quotes an Office of Personnel Management official who admits, “We are terrible at communicating with applicants, and that’s pretty much across the board.”

These problems are not unique to the public sector. Private companies hire the wrong people, miss deadlines, run over budget, become slowly paralyzed by bureaucratic inertia, drown in paperwork, etc. But they do it on their own dime.

President Obama is planning a massive expansion in the size, scope, responsibility and power of the federal government, without recognizing the difficulty these agencies have with their current responsibilities. Of course, it’s all Bush’s fault, this is new management, we’ll be told. We will see. Unfortunately, we will also pay.

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