One government executive feels that she has “been given a really important mission and is encouraged to carry it out — as long as I don’t actually hire anyone, fire anyone, train anyone, travel anywhere, spend any money, ask the same question of at least nine people, award any contracts, or, God forbid, issue any reports.”
[pullquote]“We’re expected to complete the same missions that we did before and when something goes wrong … nobody stands up and says, ‘Well, it’s because we gave them less money.’”[/pullquote] Another government executive had this to say: “We’re expected to complete the same missions that we did before and when something goes wrong … nobody stands up and says, ‘Well, it’s because we gave them less money.’”
These are some of the examples of extreme frustration published in a monograph this week by the Senior Executives Association (SEA). The report captured sequestration sentiments from 18 government leaders at 10 agencies who participated in an SEA roundtable this spring.
The event was part of SEA’s annual gathering of the winners of the Presidential Distinguished Rank, which is President Obama’s highest award to career civil servants. The report provides candid insights from government leaders into their true feelings about and impacts of sequestration.
Although all of the quotes in the report aren’t attributed to named participants, it does provide a window into the minds of government leaders.
We often take into the account the impact of the sequester on the government contracting community, which has already felt the brunt of these austere times. It is clear that government leaders are just as frustrated about the budget cuts and feel handicapped when it comes to meeting mission goals and requirements.
To sum it all up perfectly, one participant said her agency “could innovate and improve program delivery, but where is the point that we cut so deeply into the bone that we start to risk the collapse of agency infrastructure?”
These are prime examples of how “doing more with less” is starting to take its toll on government leaders, and ultimately overall effectiveness will be compromised.
While the White House has showed interest in a short-term fix to sequestration, we need to address this issue head on. Otherwise, we will have a resource-challenged government that will not be able to fully serve and protect its citizens.