Saturday, December 18, 2010

Not Mine

The Anchoress notes that federal buildings must be warm for Michelle Obama to go in a sleeveless vintage Norman Norelli number without a hint of goosebumps. Unlike you know, every one else who has turned down their heat to fight rising energy prices and higher seasonal heating bills.

I've been working for the government for over eight years now. At no time in my service has the HVAC ever worked right. My building was built as temporary lab space for World War II and the Army has been using it in one way or another ever since. The HVAC has been fixed 3 times since I started working there, but it is still broken. This week highs outside were in the 30s and the AC was on inside. For over a week. To be fair, if they managed to get the heat working it would probably be far too warm to be comfortable.

This is the story on most of the legacy buildings on most US military bases. Heat is central steam heat. The central plant has two settings, on and off. The setting is changed twice a year whether you need it or not. All the steam lines leak so the heat is never dispersed properly. Your building is either far too hot or way too cold. Because of this everyone has both an electric space heater and a fan at their desk. Every few years a contractor comes in and promises to work miracles for a reasonable fee, but then it breaks again in a year or two.

The right side of the blogosphere has this narrative going on that the Government functionaries are living in the lap of luxury while Rome burns. It's BS. Aging infrastructure is not just an issue with the interstate highway system.


Paul Smith Jr. said...

I worked in a private building in downtown Wilmington where the heat was handled the same way: turned on in October and off in April. While I worked there, we had a few days in February where it hit 80 outside. And we were required to wear suits every day.

I'm not sure that the narrative is that government employees are in the lap of luxury as much as when benefits are included (such as pension, health care, etc.) many, especially new positions in the last ten years at the federal level, are making out very well. In my experience in state government, that's certainly not the case, but I do leave wondering where all the money they spend ends up because it's not in facilities or salaries. (Seriously, I worked at one government office for 18 months. The entire time the automatic door for the handicapped on the men's room bathroom never worked. nor was it ever even attempted to be repaired. I couldn't help but wonder what penalties a private firm would face for such a egregious violation of the ADA.)

Jeff the Baptist said...

One of Bush's initiatives was to raise federal salaries in hopes of hiring more capable federal employees. This has helped.

The narrative about benefits has a point, but compared to state and local pension plans the Feds are in great shape fiscally. Most states are still on the old CSRS style pension system. The Feds have been on FERS since the mid 80s, which is a 401k style system.

Lunette de soleil Marc Jacobs said...

ok.trop cool et je reviendrai la prochaine fois.