John Berry

John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management:

As we discuss the future of the Federal workforce in an era of tight budgets, It’s important to keep a few touchstones in mind.

Most Americans probably know more about Federal workers than they think they do.  They know that Park Rangers make sure they can continue to enjoy the great outdoors, that the FBI protects us from criminals and terrorists, and that the National Institutes of Health are making progress every day on cures for cancer and other vexing diseases that plague our children.

What many Americans may not know is that more than one in four of our civil servants are veterans of our Nation’s armed forces, dedicated Americans who have chosen to continue their public service as civilians; or that most of our jobs involve protecting the American people and honoring our veterans.  That’s why two-thirds of our workers are focused on national security, law enforcement or caring for our veterans.

Wherever there’s danger, at home or abroad, Federal workers are there.  They literally run into the fires in the western United States, where Federal wildland firefighters protect homes and forests.  They help keep our borders safe, and are on the front lines in dark corners of the world where people plot to attack us.  And sadly, since 1992, over 2,965 have paid the ultimate sacrifice and lost their lives serving the country they love.

Almost all Americans would be surprised to find out we have fewer workers today than when Lyndon Johnson was President, even though we provide services to over 110 million more American citizens!

Federal workers do great things every day.  During Public Service Recognition Week, I encourage them to talk to neighbors and friends about their civil service.  We have a great story to tell, and we want to share it.  That’s the best way to change the conversation and build on the high-quality workforce of today to ensure it’s up to the challenges of tomorrow.