A toast to nameless, faceless bureaucrats

Posted: Friday, December 08, 2000

The following editorial appeared in today's Los Angeles Times:

Those "nameless, faceless federal bureaucrats" who have become the favorite whipping boy of critics of government are in fact the people who provide the services Americans count on, and without them the nation would be in a pickle. That fact is recognized in a report from a Senate Governmental Affairs subcommittee, which views with deserved concern the prospect that up to half of the federal civilian work force could retire in the next four years, carrying away a critical wealth of accumulated expertise about how government works.

The subcommittee relied on data from the Office of Personnel Management, which calculates that 32 percent of government employees will either retire or be eligible for retirement by 2004. An additional 21 percent will be eligible for early retirement. That adds up to more than 900,000 jobs potentially being vacated in a federal civilian work force of 1.8 million.

"A mass exodus of federal employees taking with them irreplaceable institutional knowledge threatens to leave the government without the experience or know-how necessary to meet the expectations of American taxpayers," said subcommittee Chairman George Voinovich, an Ohio Republican.

By what was probably no coincidence, the panel's report was issued only after the end of a political campaign in which the usual scattershot attacks were made on government and its programs. Still, all those nameless, faceless federal bureaucrats nearing retirement may be pleased to learn that their often derided abilities are now being seen as irreplaceable.

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