Pros: federal holidays and weekends off. adequate annual leave and sick leave.
Cons: incompetent people filling gs-13 and 14 positions.
Conflicting VA Central Office policies and local policies. Leadership seldom has a good grasp of the tasks needed to complete assignments at the lower levels. Many employees go above and beyond without asking for recognition and rarely getting recognition for their efforts. There are many tasks needed to complete assignments that are not covered in position descriptions.
Many of the employees performing advanced tasks needed to complete duties are not thoroughly trained and their supervisors are ill-equipped in training them. Some administrative officers, front-line supervisors and service chiefs perform inadequately in their duties, but are highly rewarded because of the politically charged atmosphere.
A typical day as an administrative officer at the VA is multiple interruptions from employees and other services. Multiple tasks are needed to be completed daily and services like HR, Fiscal and contracting fall short of assisting my service in the completion of what we are asked to do. While there is an effort in training supervisors, AOs and Chiefs on some tasks the training in those tasks is initiated by the section that was mostly inconvenienced by supervisors not understanding or completing tasks on behalf of that section. For example, if position descriptions are being downgraded regularly it is assumed that the front line supervisor wrote it poorly. If this sets up a pattern assumed by leadership to be cause of the downgraded positions then training is called for and set up. When in fact the classification personnel are grading the position based on outdated criteria – more... published by OPM.
Proactivity is becoming more common in some areas of the VA, but knee-jerk reactions tend to rule the day in the VA (or for any government agency). Knee-jerk reactionary changes are usually costly, non-productive and given very little guidance because of the lack of subject matter experts and misunderstanding of the catalyst causing the change.
Of all of the deadlines given throughout the typical year, half are assigned at the last minute as a reaction to VISNs or Central Office's failure to communicate in a timely manner. Often times the reason for the late communication from VISN or Central Office is because of lack of guidance on what is required or there is no one with enough expertise to give the necessary guidance.
Some service chiefs are not held accountable for the failures in their services and are often protected as long as everyone in leadership meets their executive career field goals. Leadership at all levels are very good at fudging numbers and/or hiding the faults in their services. Employees are coached and told what to say during audits just short of not making it an out-right lie to an auditor.
One of the most damaging services within the VA is contracting. The expert contracting officers have moved on to DOD or retired from the VA. Very little expertise remains with contracting service and contracting officers and specialists lack the time to learn what is needed to fulfill the contracting obligations of the government. Contracting officers also lack understanding as to what is needed by a service's request. The law governing socio-economic requirements are definitely damaging to a service request. A contracting specialist can be working on 50 to 70 contract request at the same time and the dynamics of each can hinder processes and become more labor intensive than the normal contract request.
Contracting Officers and specialists fail to fully communicate to the requesting service issues that arise with vendors. Too much time and effort is spent communicating back and forth with a contracting officer via email on issues that could have been taken care of if the contracting officer would thoroughly read the submitted documents and 2237 transaction request.
I could go on, but this could end up being a book. – less