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To Restore Trust In Government, Empower Federal Communicators

On October 8, 2013 the Pew Research Center for U.S. Politics & Policy released survey results showing that:
  • Most Americans (62%) had a positive view of federal workers (and a majority had a positive view of the federal agencies they were asked about)
  • Almost none (19%) trusted the government itself "to do what is right just about always or most of the time."




Over the years I have received many email chains ("Fwd: Fwd: Fwd:") portraying the government as corrupt or inefficient while hearing verbal anecdotes of federal employees who went the extra mile to help out.

Clearly, federal employees are dedicated. The 2015 Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey, administered by the government's Office of Personnel Management shows that more than 90% of respondents "view their work as important, are willing to commit extra effort when necessary to get their jobs done, (and) consistently seek out ways to do better."

Feds are also committed to integrity and precision; they don't give you spin. Only 43% of respondents to the survey agreed that "senior leaders generate high levels of motivation and commitment in the workforce," and 55% agreed that "my organization's senior leaders maintain high standards of honesty and integrity."

The father of classical public relations, Edward Bernays - who propagandized for the U.S. government in favor of entering World War I - once famously wrote that "propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government." But today, ambiguity around the nature and purpose of government messaging has in my view created the current environment of distrust.

A better course of action would be to charge Federal employees with disseminating government information in such a way that fact is clearly distinguished from message.This is the model followed by the UK, and we should adopt it here.

______________________

All opinions my own. Child grasping hand photo by Christian Scheja via Flickr(Creative Commons) Worker photo by "ginkgo" via OpenClipArt.org. Building photo by "derkommander0916" via OpenClipArt.org. U.S. Capitol image by "Gerald_G" viaOpenClipArt.org.

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