I'm at the GFIRST conference this week and have been bumping into a number of contacts and colleagues. The conference has been great so far. I had an interesting discussion this week with someone who is employeed at a large government agency. We were discussing the pros and cons of federal employment. One of the items we discussed was how some of the best and brightest get frustrated and burn out in the federal sector due to the politics, bureaucracy, etc. He responded by telling me about how he succeeds by approaching the politics and bureaucracy like a giant game of chess, always contemplating his next move and trying to outwit the opponent. I see his point, and I admire his ability to survive and flourish within the "system". But deep down, this troubles me.
The best and the brightest folks, those that we need to have monitoring and securing our most critical government assets aren't interesting in playing chess. They want to be put to work on analytically challenging and motivating tasks. The chess game frustrates them, burns them out, and causes the best and brightest to leave the federal sector. I think this is extremely unfortunate, and I can only hope that one day those at the top of the political pyramid will realize this and change things for the better. Until then, I see this as a major challenge for the federal sector.
In the great game of politics and bureaucracy, it's unfortunately the American people who lose.