Friday, August 7, 2009

The Bus to Nowhere

You've seen them. Those ubiquitous Metro buses marked Not in Service, as far as you're concerned, going nowhere. I feel like I've been on one of them since the Obama Administration took office, speech rhetoric and campaign promises aside.
It all started with the hope of good government jobs. The Feds would be hiring; hundreds of thousands to maybe millions, impressive real numbers. Music to the ears of the vast unemployed; salary and benefits to boot. I joined the happy hoards frequenting USAJOBS.GOV back in January, built my resume, and applied. And applied, and applied, and applied. For months I heard nothing, and then began a slow stream of notices to my e-mail and postal box, predominantly stating that "the announcement had been canceled," followed in almost equal numbers by those declaring that "no selection had been made." For the few positions for which I was found well qualified and referred to the selecting official, the standard rejection noted that hundreds had applied, so basically, tough luck. And I started to wonder if I was the only one observing this decreasingly optimistic pattern, and more importantly, WHY?
Yes, it costs the government nothing to post and delist an announcement; it's just part of a personnel staffer's daily job. But in this economy, why put those desperate for employment through the cost of their time and money for nothing? It's more than a bit cruel on their psyche, could drive the most fragile to drink, or worse, to say nothing of being a budget buster. Not every application, and in some fields, less than more, can be done online for free. All those postage and fax costs add up. I recently got a notice stating that an announcement had been canceled and reopened, and inviting me to apply again! What's the sense in that? It did not take much thought or time for me to take a pass, figuring the odds that the readvertisement would lead down a similar dead end path were high.
Wasn't the mantra of the Obama campaign to clean up government waste and make government work again? Because here's what I see: Evidence of HR offices spinning their wheels with make/busy-work, but few additional hires. Republican holdover Bushies still appear to abound. What's that about? If the goal was to put people back to work and inspire the best and the brightest to public service, the last eight months have been an abysmal failure. If the Feds can't set an example, how can they expect more of the other engines of the economy that look to it for leadership? Deadlines, demands...the President seems to be full of them. Cash for Clunkers, mortgage relief, health care reform...that's all very nice. But if you don't have any money, NONE of those programs matter. It is time to start living the moniker of the USAJOBS.GOV website, "working for America," by making those 33,721 opportunities worldwide (8/6/09) that are listed a reality. To paraphrase that rising Administration star, Bill Clinton, "it's the jobs, stupid." Trickle up. We all remember Sarah Palin's infamous "bridge to nowhere." It's time for Obama to revamp the "service" on its corresponding bus.

Karen Ann DeLuca