Diversifying American attitudes and Homeland Security
The other evening I was at Dulles International Airport outside Washington DC waiting for my party to go to the restroom. The area was nearly empty, but behind a pillar was a man in a Transportation Security Agency (TSA) uniform with an ID and such. He removed his tennis shoes, got onto his knees and bent into a Muslim praying position. He prayed and I waited for my party.
At about the same time my party came out of the restroom, the TSA employee had finished his praying.
Now, I share this observation because in my life’s experience, it is not common that people pray on the job.
Muslims, I believe, must pray five times a day at certain times, and this requires facing in the direction of Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Compulsory prayers take about 5-10 minutes.
In my working experience supporting the Department of Defense, it was common to be working with religiously active Christians, many of whom were deliberate in praying before eating lunch, for instance. That was unusual for me, because I don’t do that, and most people I worked with didn’t either, but some high ranking customers prayed away.
I share this to illustrate that in American life, there are exceptional times when one might run across a person that practices their belief in the normal course of a day’s work.
As we approach a time in American history when there is much debate about the size and quality of government, I read an article that says attrition is high among Federal employees at 24% on the average. People work for a couple of years, then leave the job. Belief is that government is losing good people and not getting a return on their training.
The subject of optimizing government enterprise performance is a principal subject of my book, Smart Data, and I can tell you that it is a complex topic. Seeing people leave government in large numbers is on one hand a good thing because we can’t afford to keep them. On the other hand, we want to keep the very best to keep the system performing optimially.
“A disturbing 72 percent of Homeland Security career executives left that agency between 2003 and 2007, Max Stier, the Partnership for Public Service's president and chief executive, told federal officials gathered for release of the report.
"No one was paying attention to it," Stier said.
It's scary to think that an agency so important to the security of the United States was being run by so many people with so little experience. Perhaps it's no coincidence that on the Partnership's 2010 list of Best Places to Work, Homeland Security ranks 28th out of 32 agencies in its category.”