by Leslie Irwin, Fellow with OAR Communications
How can you stay positive for working in the government when everything seems stacked against the policies and reforms you’re trying to enact?
This was a question posed to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Oceans and Fisheries, Dave Balton, at a recent Knauss lunch hosted at the State Department.
The question was a fair one, given Balton’s 20-plus years with the State. Starting out in the office of the legal advisor at State, he now supervises the two marine offices in the Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs – the Office of Marine Conservation and the Office of Ocean and Polar Affairs. Many of us fellows are already feeling some frustrations from dealing with government road blocks, and we’ve only been around for six months. How–why was he still putting up with it?
“Don’t be discouraged by the government process, it was designed to create conflict and slow things down. That’s the point of checks and balances. You always hear about how this is the worst it’s ever been, but I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. Public service is a noble calling, and we need people that believe in their causes to fight the good fight.”
He also pointed out that working for the United States is a pretty powerful thing.
“At an international level, when the US speaks, everyone listens. Even if they don’t agree with what we have to say, they know what we say will have an impact.”
These are good things to consider, especially as we begin our journeys to find employment post-fellowship in January. Some of us will find a home within our government agencies, some will maintain positions in legislative affairs, and others may move on to NGO’s or the private sector. But one thing is guaranteed, regardless of where we end up, I hope we keep fighting.
And when all else fails, go “wine” about it at happy hour, which for us, is at the Laughing Man Tavern at 5:30…