Category Archives: Post-Furlough

Stability… How’s that Working for Me?

I changed my job about 6 months ago. It was a needed switch-up in order to pursue some personal goals. One of the main reasons was I was aiming for a stable environment with time to dedicate to  adventures outside the office. I  re-joined the federal government as the sequester hit and experienced the first government shutdown in seventeen years. How’s that working for me?

I accepted my job during the last couple of days before the sequestration hiring freeze. I snuck in as one of the last ones hired before the great pause. I was onboarded during a hiring freeze. I did a double take as the agency adjusted, the belts were tightened (yet again), and the new normal took over. Sequestration was just part of my new reality.

For those who don’t know me well-  I’m a serial government employee. I’ve worked for the government directly for over 13 years and the years I worked in the private sector my clients were primarily government. Heck, when I’m in the government many times my customers are other government agencies or employees.

I settled into the new job, got to know my new colleagues, re-engaged with old colleagues, joined committees, and started feeling like things were coming together. Projects started getting handed to me and things started into a groove. <sigh> I should have known better.

Up to the Friday before the government shutdown of 2013 I was being reassured by many people with very lengthy careers that it wasn’t going to happen. The day before the furlough the tone changed and people started talking about taking plants home.

Now, please don’t get me wrong….While stressful and disorienting, the furlough  does not make my top 5 most challenging events I’ve encountered in my career. I’m not sure it even would make the top 20.  We had a strong community of federal employees who supported each other and informed each other during this event. 

Through all of its challenges, it’s good to be back in my federal family. I have an amazing job. I am enjoying this opportunity immensely. On a daily basis, I am among wonderful professionals supporting the field. With this said, it is noticeable that these times are different. The atmosphere with the sequestration and shutdown is unlike  what I’d seen from the seasons of 1993-1997, the years from 1998-2006, or 2009-2010 in the federal government.

2013 has been different. It wasn’t what I expected as I searched for stability. Luckily, I am where I need to be. It’s working out just fine.

Reviving the Projects

It was the never-ending weekend. There was not enough guaranteed time off to break away and truly relax. The perpetual list of to-do items dominated my brain waves. Now, the seemingly forever weekend is over. We are back in the office (for at least 90 days) trying to figure out how to restart EVERY project we were working on.

The momentum was sucked out of the room with a shop-vac. The conference calls and meetings will restart this week. Re-engaging requires buying in that this is essential and good work that we are spending our hours and days investing into.  There is a huge difference between one person missing a week or two on the committee and everyone in your extended network dropping everything for 12 working days.

birdy

Trying to re-schedule our project meeting while minimizing any impact they have on the other projects is a herculean task. In the federal government (especially in the land management agencies) we are planners. Back in 2004 I used to be able to tell you my 6 month schedule of conferences and meetings one year in advance. Back then I has it nailed within a week.  Today, it still stands in that scheduling our scoping meetings was done with the entire NEPA process in mind, which was built with consideration for the field season schedule, and the upcoming event that is permitted for a year from now. That’s just how we normally roll.

So right now we are trying to cram it all in back in without majorly damaging other schedules. Yet in the back of our minds is that… it might (probably will) happen again all over in January. It’s been more disruptive than I would have imagined. We will make it happen, as we typically do. When the week wears on, conference calls will be attended. Guidelines will be written. Contractors are back on board. And soon paychecks will show up again in the bank accounts. We are glad to be back and serving America in so many ways.