Some Issues to Consider
Most government jobs have set salaries, and they do not always offer great opportunities for upward mobility. In many cases, employees have to take tests or get additional education to advance to a new level. Government jobs have many rules, some of which can seem counterintuitive or even counterproductive. It is possible to become more focused on red tape than on serving others. In addition, depending on your job, you may find yourself at the wrong end of dinner-table conversation. People love to grouse about the government, and you may find yourself on the defensive from time to time.
“Dry” counties and towns do not sell alcohol, but they may be adjacent to communities that do. Once the site of Methodist camp meetings, the town of Ocean Grove, New Jersey, remains dry despite its location on the Jersey Shore, which is filled with beach towns that sell liquor by the truckload.
Some government agencies have similar functions, and this can cause difficulties. For instance, the FBI and the CIA both seek to quash crime, but they don't always share information with one another. In this case, duplication of effort can be more than an inconvenience; it can actually serve as a threat to national security. Different offices working toward the same ends can also lead to redundancy and what some folks like to call “government waste.”Former vice president Al Gore worked to streamline the federal government, and the Bush administration has continued that effort. But rivalry and repetition persist. At best, these problems can cause you to be on the receiving end of anti-government harangues. At worst, they can cause you daily headaches on the job.
The government actually can shut down! It doesn't happen very often, but disagreements over budgets can cause the wheels of government to grind to a halt. New Jersey's government shut down for nearly a week in 2006, for example. Essential services such as the police, fire, and state-run hospitals continued to operate, but all other services were closed. As a result, state government employees were laid off, albeit briefly.
A budget impasse also shut down the federal government for a few hours in 1981. In 1984, a half-million government workers were sent home, but they were back at work the next day. The most serious shutdown took place during President Bill Clinton's administration. The president and Congress were unable to reach an agreement on the budget. As a result, many civil servants were sent home from December 1995 until April 1996.