Where do you want to fly?

“We’re forced to say the sky isn’t blue and the grass isn’t green.”

“I’ve worked in different administrative-officer roles for about a decade, and one thing that’s been particularly tough with this administration is they’re not as honest and forthcoming. For example, [in January 2017] Trump froze hiring. Then, a few weeks after the official announcement [in April 2017] that things had been unfrozen,* we were repeatedly told by the political leadership that we’re not allowed to hire, but we’re not allowed to call it a hiring freeze, either. It’s been two years since we’ve hired anyone, we’ve lost 25 percent of our staff, and our employees know nobody is being hired—but we’re not allowed to admit it. It feels like we’re gaslighting our staff.

“There have been staff phone calls where I’ve had to say no one can be detailed out of the agency, and then people say, ‘Hey, can I get this in an e-mail?’ and I have to say, ‘No, and if you ask me in writing, then I’d say of course we would consider your request, but on the phone I’ll say, ‘Under no circumstance are we going to consider it.’ We’re forced to say the sky isn’t blue and the grass isn’t green.

“Our employees act out a lot, but our manager doesn’t have a big desire to discipline. It’s hard to say, ‘You have a bad attitude and you need to fix it,’ when they’re doing the work that four or five people used to handle.

“I constantly consider leaving. No hiring also means no promotions, and I’m very aware that as long as I stay, there will be no advancement. It’s not like the last administration was handing out raises. Obama was just as happy to freeze our pay, but at least his administration was honest about it.”

*The official hiring freeze lasted 79 days; when it was lifted, the administration simultaneously issued guidelines for how agencies should gradually cut their staffs.