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John Berry

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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.


  1. William Ward Says:
    May 6th, 2011 at 10:35 am

    That’s nice. Can you get around to paying this former public servant his retirement now? I mean…it’s been 10 months and all…

  2. Bob Wolfe Says:
    February 2nd, 2012 at 3:06 pm


    I just read your missive in the Federal Times regarding your “outdated” system. The article appears to indicate that you are blaming a programming language for the problems of the system. I always love a good laugh.

    I am afraid that I must report to you that you are extremely misinformed.

    The article implies that you said:

    //Berry said some systems still even use COBOL, believe it or not, a dinosaur of a programming language that was first introduced 50 years ago. As a result, calculating pension payments is still largely a paper-and-pencil process — one that is made much more difficult when agencies don’t submit all the necessary documents. Which is what usually happens.//

    If you think that the pencil and paper requirement is “as a result” of using COBOL for programming, then you are horribly mistaken. The programming language used has nothing to do with the requirement for a “paper and pencil process.” The fact that you have to use paper and pencil is a direct result of poor programming of the application or poor maintenance of the application and has nothing to do with the language selected.

    In addition, modern COBOL is as modern as any other programming language. It is found on modern web sites, with GUI screens, and loads of other modern features too numerous to mention. It would cost you FAR less to fix the program with a competent outside consulting firm than it would cost to write a new system.

    The fact that COBOL is old means that it works really well to have lasted this long.

    Your programs run horribly because of the poor job of developing, managing and maintaining the system. That is a reality of software development. It’s always very convenient to blame technology when the real culprit can be found by asking your system administrators and programmers to look in a mirror.

  3. Carita Rengel Says:
    March 16th, 2012 at 7:44 am

    Have you any follow up to this?

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