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E-Book Salutes Public Servants

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Govloop founder Steve Ressler recollects in an email to me about a website launch late last year devoted to sharing the lives of U.S. government employees:

While the media portrays public servants as a bunch of faceless, incompetent bureaucrats, we are individuals just like you who wake up every day trying to provide services to citizens.

Ressler and Andrew Krzmarzick joined forces on the I Am Public Service project to provide first-hand stories from federal employees who otherwise receive little recognition.

As backdrop to the project, a joint survey released by Gallup and the Partnership for Public Service last November indicated a mere 32% of Americans viewed their interactions with federal employees favorably.

"As someone who has served for the past decade in non-profit and non-governmental organizations that benefit from and seek to improve government," Krzmarzick emailed me, "I completely disagree with this notion. My experience with public servants has shown that most government employees approach their work with competence and creativity, working diligently and dutifully to improve the way of life for Americans and our allies."

It's not all woe. The survey results specify slightly more than 50% of federal employees recommend the U.S. government as a worthy employer, mainly due to job security and benefits.

Spawning from a new age of government wherein President Barack Obama initiated a White House blog and created Recovery.gov and HealthReform.gov as measures to enable participation, collaboration, and transparency with the American people, Ressler was frustrated that government in the past was "a closed, Kafkaesque maze to the public. I Am Public Service is a part of this new movement as public servants talk directly to the American people about how and why they serve."

Ressler elaborates:

I Am Public Service hopes to inspire a new generation of public service. Public service often gets a bad rap and has a hard time recruiting the best and the brightest to serve. In these trying times of economic crisis, environmental change, and wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, we need competent, creative, and passionate government employees more than ever. The issues are complicated, the repercussions are wide, and we need the best working on these issues.

We were frustrated by people's perception of public servants as lazy, incompetent, and worthless. Amongst my friends, there is an assumption that if you want to "do good" you need to go work for a non-profit. I believe that government itself is not doing a good enough job promoting itself as the place to be if you want to work to be an instrument of change dealing with the most important issues of the day. I believe I Am Public Service is a beginning of a dialogue with the American public discussing the importance of public service as well as a great career opportunity for those interested in "doing good".

After releasing an e-book (PDF version here) last week with 34 personal stories, Ressler and Krzmarzick intend to deliver a hard-copy to President Obama.

Disclosure: I am acknowledged in the credits due to my blogging and twittering efforts about government initiatives.