In addition, many of my coworkers are not permanent, full-time staff. The government has many ways around that. So that the first to go are the seasonal employees, the term employees up for renewal, and the contracted employees—very essential members of our team. Around the country, thousands of workers receive a paycheck from companies contracted by the federal government to provide some essential service or product. Some people's idea that federal spending goes into a void is not borne out in my experience. I can point to a hundred ways that federal spending affects my daily life.
You may say that now that the sequester is in place, at least we can move forward with our new budget reality; as one person said last week: instead of continuing to try to do more with less, maybe it’s time we come to terms with doing less with less. Yes, contrary to the many stereotypes of government workers, the vast majority of my colleagues have been busting their asses for years trying to make do without a retired employee who won’t be replaced, or with fewer seasonal hires this year, or restructuring to reduce the amount of admin staff. But in fact the new reality is that uncertainty is still a way of life and we really will have to do less. Will we have a budget? A new continuing resolution? A shutdown? Can we perform the essential tasks required to protect park resources and provide for the enjoyment and education of our visitors? Which of our essential tasks in the end will be deemed unessential? Hard to say.
In the midst of Washington power games, here in my office we’ve been facing a redesign of our office space. We take up too much space, too big a footprint, according to GSA (the agency both in charge of federal real estate and known for …um…boondoggling, to put it nicely). So for the past year, we’ve been planning for a complete re-design of our office building, putting most of us in 8’x8’ cubicles. Fortunately or unfortunately, there have been delays. Now, we will surely be delayed again with the sequester. Why spend money on an unnecessary building re-design when Rome is burning? Yet today, our chiefs were asked to sit down and assign the cubicles on the drawings to our staff members. The insanity.
So while I’m getting off easy on the sequester—my job seems secure for now—it does feel like I’m taking crazy pills.