“Patriotism is not a short and frenzied outburst of emotion but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.” ~ Adlai Stevenson

Recently Tim O’Reilly wrote a post announcing the Code for America Fellowship.  While I applaud the idea, and agree that many in Government are luddites, especially the elected portion of Government.  But this program is also a slap in the face to many dedicated, intelligent and highly innovative civil servants.  Men and women who have spent years in the trenches of Government, keeping their head down from the political warfare of Democratic and Republican elected officials, strive to deliver innovative solutions to meet the needs of our fellow citizens.  This was my response on Google+:

“Another crazy thought, as a current civil servant with a computer engineering degree, how about paying civil servants with the needed technical skills a salary commensurate to their private sector counterparts?  That way you don’t have a constant brain drain every 6 months of good talent to the private sector.  Thus eventually smart/innovative folks will eventually rise to leadership positions and then the innovation begins to grow exponentially, talent will recognize talent/good ideas.  The cycle repeats.  Also, realize that government has elected officials, political appointees, and civil servants.  Yes many politicians have no clue but don’t paint that as the entire “government”.  You’d be surprised what talent is hidden in the civil service that is restrained by silly laws meant to steer funds to certain companies (enacted by said politicians) and not meant to encourage actual innovation.  This whole notion that government needs to be “saved” by outsiders is a slap in the face of dedicated civil servants who do have the skills/ideas just not the opportunity to be innovative.

Or if we are going to do these teams of “experts” why not also fund a way to bring in civil servants as part of the team?  That way you can get the best mix of outside thinking but also realities/laws that government programs must adhere to? Let’s disintermediate Government, remove the politicians and let the People work directly with the Civil Service!  Bottom line, yes government change can be slow but it does change.  Which is why you need good/smart people in it for the long run and not simply as bullet to look good on a resume.  They also will last pass the next election cycle.  /rant :)”

Like pigeon management, anyone can come in and attempt to take a shi…, errr, I mean make a change in year and then fly off.  Hell, a year!  You won’t even last a budget cycle to even get the funds to develop let alone sustain an IT solution.  2 years is better but 3-5 is realistic.  I doubt many serial entrepreneurs could fathom living that long with a single project.  But that’s a reality that many a civil servant has come to accept even if they don’t embrace it.  In reality, long term and meaningful change takes time and dedication to see it through to sustainment mode.  Fly by night entrepreneurs are welcome to help, but failing to include civil servants on the team is a recipe for failure in the long run.