Ask a Bureaucrat (June 2013)

Dear Bureaucrat,

How are the furloughs from the sequester affecting my everyday life?


Dear Cutbacks,

As much as I’d like to answer your question, we just don’t have enough staff right now to draft a response and vet it up and down the management chain. Please accept my apologies and the following preapproved language from an old response to someone else’s question.

Dear Mrs. Jones Cutbacks,

The Visitor Center is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday. A valid government-issued ID is required for entry.


Dear Bureaucrat,

I’m getting ready to move to DC to start my summer internship, and I’m wondering how many dress shirts to pack. How often can I get away with wearing the same thing?

-Sartorial in SF

Dear Sartorial,

In government, twice is fine but thrice a week is pushing it since you’re bound to get BBQ sauce stains on your shirt if you buy lunch from the food trucks. Now if you can find a dry cleaner with same-day service, or even a good Tide pen, one shirt should get you through the summer. After all, your supervisor’s only going to see you on your start day and at your going away happy hour, unless he’s on travel that week.


Dear Bureaucrat,

My agency offers a transit subsidy for staff who take the bus or metro to work, but I use Capital Bikeshare. How can convince them to also subsidize my commute?

-DC Biker

Dear DCB,

By the time you submit your suggestion to your Employees Committee rep, she brings it up at their meeting, someone from Benefits comes to discuss it at the meeting after that, that person brings it to her supervisor, her supervisor brings it to the managers’ meeting, the managers put it on the agenda for the strategic planning meeting, and it then sits on the back burner until a new Secretary needs to do something to curry favor with the staff, you’ll be retirement age and living too far out in Virginia to bike to work. If you really want the subsidy, just take your rental bike with you onto the bus.

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