How to be a Government Employee 101

As many of you know, I recently went from being an accountant in the public sector to government employment. Now, before any of you get any ideas, I want to make a few things perfectly clear: a) I LOVE my job, b) I LOVE my coworkers and c) I have learned a LOT, and quite honestly it’s no better or worse than my former job, just a whole hell of a lot different. Let me explain.

While I’d imagine a good number of you understand corporate bullshit, you have NO IDEA about government bullshit. It’s the same bull, but it’s been twice as long since they mucked out the stall.

That said, and maybe because that’s been said, I’ve discovered that government employees (at least in my experience, but maybe that’s because I’m in local government) will bend over backwards to help each other. Probably because a lot of us have gone the public to government route, and everyone remembers having to basically relearn everything. Because the rules are completely different, kids. COMPLETELY DIFFERENT.

Government is very interesting in that they have some VERY SERIOUS RULES about when shit has to be done, and VERY SERIOUS CONSEQUENCES if you don’t get it done, and done correctly…but they want YOU to wait until the last possible minute for them to provide you with the information you need to do it. (County government, I’m looking at YOU. And yes, I know the shit probably rolls downhill from the State, and downhill to there from the Feds, but there you go).

So, you end up extrapolating data based on theoretical numbers, and then, two days before you have to GET SHIT DONE, you get the real numbers and have to redo EVERYTHING.

Okay, I’ll admit, I have 90% of the work done, it’s just a matter of plugging in the new number, but do they not realize how MANY different forms I have to fix this on? It’s not that it’s a lot of WORK, but it’s a DAMN lot of CHECKING. And double checking. And triple checking. Because if you screw up ONE number, you’re hosed. (And this is where the lovely helpful government people come in. THANK GOD for them, or I’d be drooling in a corner right now. You know who you are. Thank you).

That said, there were days too when I wanted to bash Corporate America over the head with a two-by-four, and this is basically the same thing. It really does take at least one year in government work before you get a feel for what is going on, because you have to go through all the processes and figure it out before you can feel like you’ve got a handle on things. So I’m halfway there. I’ve got budgeting and mill levies and end-of-year resolutions down pat, now. Next up…ELECTIONS!

Stay tuned, people. I’m pretty sure there’s going to be a big ‘ol rant come March. Just sayin’.

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