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Why I Serve: PSRW honors those who labor for the people

May. 5, 2014 - 04:54PM   |  
By KATHERINE ARCHULETA Director, Office of Personnel Mangement   |   Comments
Katherine Archuleta: Americans understand the difference between dysfunction in government and public service.
Katherine Archuleta: Americans understand the difference between dysfunction in government and public service. ()

From its founding, our country has been blessed with men and women of courage and character who serve their government.

Here just a couple of examples: A medical officer working for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention directed the global initiative that eradicated polio in India. A program manager working at the Office of Personnel Management is dedicated to assisting veterans seeking jobs.

Many Americans are fed up with the dysfunction they see in Washington. Only 19 percent say they trust government to do what is right all the time or most of the time, according to an October 2013 Pew Research Center survey. And the share of the public that reports being angry at the government is 30 percent.

But Americans are smart enough to distinguish the current dysfunction in politics from the people who serve in government. By a ratio of about two-to-one — 62 percent to 29 percent — more of them had a favorable than unfavorable opinion of government workers in the Pew survey. As President Obama said when the federal government was on the brink of a shutdown in 2013, “These Americans are our neighbors. Their kids go to our schools. They worship where we do. They serve their country with pride. They are the customers of every business in this country.”

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The government shutdown furloughed hundreds of thousands of federal employees, 85 percent of whom work outside of the capital city. If this had an upside, it demonstrated to Americans how much the work of federal employees affects their lives in positive ways.

This week is Public Service Recognition Week, a good time to think about the people who serve their government in and out of uniform.

After all, they are just like us. They value education: Nearly 27 percent have college degrees and nearly 23 percent have advanced degrees. They work hard: Ninety percent reported that they are willing to put in extra effort on their jobs, despite the seemingly endless rounds of furloughs, pay freezes, budget showdowns and government shutdowns of recent years. Like us, federal employees persevere through tough times and continue to do their jobs with passion, professionalism and skill.

Federal employees have amazing stories to tell. I encourage you to talk to not only the people you know, but perhaps strike up a conversation with the person on the bus wearing a government badge. This week, let’s thank them for their service.

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