On being an employee of the government

I worked for government for close to twenty years. It paid well, had good conditions and security. People didn’t hesitate to tell me how fortunate I was to have a permanent government job. What a journey it was!

The agency I worked for changed its name about half a dozen times. There was new stationery, new images, new messages and new ministers with varied ability and personality.

It was made clear to me early on, that I was not to express a personal opinion on issues of the day. It was important I followed the departmental line. It was quite difficult at times to sell the policies when the ideology was miles away from my personal beliefs.

I found it really difficult and frustrating when there was a change in power. I worked on issues over many months, working hard and doing my best, only to be told that “we are not doing that anymore”.

Another frustration was when politicians would announce a new strategy without consulting the bureaucracy. Sometimes these were significantly costly strategies and the government did not give the department any more funding in the budget to deliver the program. That happened quite a lot. The public servant was then left to face the angry public and defend the minister.

I managed a project a few years ago – a big event. The main negative feedback was that there was not enough publicity. We had $0.00 for promotion. We dealt with the complaints from the community  – I couldn’t tell them we had no budget for advertising!

So now that I am no longer a government employee I feel much freer. It is great to be able to express an opinion of my own again and to lobby the government about the things that concern me.

Please go easy on the public servants – they may seem to have it easy but there are many challenges they face each day and most of them have the best interests of the community in mind and they try to make our society a better place to live.