President George H.W. Bush’s federal workforce legacy

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Jeffrey Neal, senior vice president of ICF, discusses how George H.W. Bush worked with the federal workforce during his long career in public service, and what made him different from other presidents in that regard.


Last week’s remembrances of President George H.W. Bush’s life and legacy included recognition of his military service, and his long political career in Washington. However, the president was also known for his attention to federal workforce issues. Jeffrey Neal, senior vice president of ICF says that Jimmy Carter and George H.W. Bush are the only presidents in recent history to “engage with federal workers in a truly constructive manner.”

“He actually made a point of engaging with the federal workforce in his first week in office. He arranged a meeting with 3000 members of the Senior Executives Service, and told them very directly ‘I want you to be on my team. I value you. I trust you.’ He started out with the federal workforce saying, ‘I want to work with you,’” Neal told Government Matters. “What we typically see as administrations come in is the political appointees really kind of keep the career employees at arm’s length. They think ‘They don’t work for us and they didn’t work for our campaign or even worse… they cooperated with the last administration,’ i.e., did their jobs. And they don’t want to deal with them. President Bush recognized that the federal workforce would be the way he would get most of his agenda accomplished.”