Federal Employees Focus on Mission in Face of Adversity

May 6, 2013

Federal Times invited readers to reflect on the state of public service and on what, if anything, should be done to improve it. Following are excerpts.

Paul Carlson, executive director, Seattle Federal Executive Board:

For most of the past decade, I served in a key federal role to promote strategies to end homelessness. The general public may not know just how much success local communities have had in decreasing homelessness, especially with those persons long-term on the streets who were thought beyond hope.

Federal officials led the way. We went on the stump all over the country, met with governors, mayors, city and county councils, business leaders. We cajoled and persuaded, pushed, rallied, problem-solved and organized. When signs of success appeared, we cheered on local efforts and faded into the background. We knew the federal role would ultimately be seen as merely supportive. The reality was that we were the principal agents of systemic change, the ones who turned the tide.

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