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Eye Opener: Selling government service

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Thursday! (Unless you're the Yankees?) About 40 Obama administration officials, lawmakers, Hill staffers, employee organization heads, private sector leaders, good government types and academics met Wednesday in Washington to have a frank, off-the-record conversation about the federal government's recruitment and hiring process.

"It was an invitee-only, off-the-record session that participants described as a candid conversation about the issues facing Uncle Sam as he tries to overhaul a personnel employment process that seems stuck in the mud," The Post's Joe Davidson reports.

"Uncle Sam should do a better job branding and promoting his work," participants concluded. "The Army and the Marine Corps know how to do it. Certainly money is a motivating factor for recruits, but the military, in part through TV commercials, has successfully branded itself as a place where young men and women go to become mature adults with a clear sense of mission. You can't say that about your average civilian agency."

How would you sell civilian public service? Does it require a multi-million dollar advertising campaign? Better use of social media? Better person-to-person outreach at colleges and universities -- maybe even high schools?

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

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Cabinet and Staff News: A deadly bombing in Pakistan overshadows Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's visit. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood promises scrutiny of "distracted flying." Secretaries Janet Napolitano and Kathleen Sebelius defend the administration's H1N1 vaccination campaign. The LAPD inspector general is Obama's likely pick for U.S. attorney in Los Angeles. Beliefnet's founder joining the FCC. Robert Gibbs meets with a Fox News exec.

Obama signs DOD authorization bill: The measure includes new hate crimes provisions and funds Pentagon operations, but also provides new benefits to current and former federal employees. "These provisions will ensure justice for hundreds of thousands of public servants,” Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman (I-Conn.) said in a statement.

Stimulus dollars going to accused contractors: So far, 33 federal departments and agencies have awarded more than $1.2 billion in stimulus contracts to at least 30 companies that are ranked by one watchdog group as among the most egregious offenders of state and federal laws.

FAA reacted slowly to errant jet: The agency violated its own rules by taking more than 40 minutes to alert the military after losing communication with a Northwest Airlines flight last week.

DEA crackdown hurts nursing home residents who need pain drugs: Tougher enforcement of the Controlled Substances Act, which tightly restricts the distribution of pain medicines such as morphine and Percocet, is causing pharmacies to balk and is leading to delays in pain relief for those patients and seniors in long-term-care facilities.

Loosening of FBI rules stirs privacy concerns: Release of the agency's “Domestic Investigations and Operations Guide" shines a light on how agents have been given greater power in the post-Sept. 11 era.

FTC's powers would grow under financial overhaul: The agency would get new powers to oversee and punish companies that run afoul of its rules, a further step in the Obama administration's beefing up of the U.S. regulatory machinery.

The Postal Service's 'get well' plan? Greeting cards: It has started selling Hallmark greeting cards at some post offices, a one-year experiment that may lead the nation's 34,000 postal outlets to eventually sell other goods and services.

Scientist offered U.S. secrets for $2 million: Prosecutors say a Chevy Chase scientist accused of attempted espionage wanted $2 million for his secrets and stashed 55 gold Krugerrand coins worth about $50,000 in a California safe deposit box.

Nuclear regulator broke rules: A former member of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission violated government ethics rules by directly contacting potential employers with business before the NRC before the end of his term in mid-2007.

SBA proposes major revisions to small business contracting program: The agency proposed some of the most comprehensive changes to its 8(a) small and disadvantaged business contacting program, including significant changes to eligibility and income requirements.

NASA rocket lifts off on test flight: Nearly twice the height of the spaceship it's supposed to replace, the 327-foot Ares I-X rocket carried no passengers or payload, only throwaway ballast and hundreds of sensors. The flight cost $445 million.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | October 29, 2009; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Eye Opener  
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If I had been approached in High School, being a Student Athlete, serious about My Future and in need of advice, it would have been a deal. I probably could have been recruited into a Life of Service to My Nation.

Iam very happy with the Road I took in My Occupational Life but I believe Our Government should look at recruiting in Our High School's to foster Our Leader's for Tomorrow.

Posted by: mcfarlan_k | October 29, 2009 12:55 PM | Report abuse

The government will not attract the best folks until they find a way to cut through the folklore that has been created around the idea that people who work for the government are incompetent and don't add value. The political parties, in particular, the GOP has bashed the role of government to the point that lots of people just don't believe that government can accomplish anything and fewer believe that government functions and a functioning government are essential. I never want to fly in an airplane without FAA inspections and air traffic control. I loved working for NASA, it has fantastic people in place when I was there, but so many people in the "real world", especially outside of DC, reacted negatively to the idea that I was a government employee. I don't know if social media or traditional media is the way to get the message across, but showing real people working for the federal government who are doing important work "I'm Mark, and I keep the food you eat safe." "I'm Janet and I am designing the most advanced weather satellite ever built" Finally, get rid of the poor performers that are in the federal government is critical to keep and attract the best into government.

Posted by: FormerNASAguy | October 29, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

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