Thursday, October 3, 2013

I Want to Work for the Federal Government!

I want to work for the Federal Government (of the United States, that is). I think this is especially prescient of me given our current circumstances.  I also think it is a bit of nostalgia for those days when I worked for the Veterans Administration.  I fondly remember the 3 of my 16 years working there when the government actually passed a budget on time. I also always loved the last week of the fiscal year when, suddenly, a large pot of money would appear from nowhere and we would have to get it entirely spent within the week.  Do you know how hard it is to spend several million dollars (OK – maybe several hundred thousand) in a week? I have equally fond memories of the last government shutdown (which may have helped stimulate me to move to the private sector). During the last shutdown, as a physician, I was considered essential. Unfortunately, lots of other folks I needed were not – so caring for patients and continuing a research program became, shall we say, challenging.

It is in this sense of nostalgia for those good old days plus a deep appreciation for what government employees are now experiencing that I announce to the world that I want to go back to work for the Federal Government.  And – I want to be paid nothing – zero – nada. That way – I don’t have to worry about furloughs or anything else – I’ll be invincible! What can they do – fire me?  Of course, I have a specific plan. 

As you know, I will be retiring from my consulting business at the end of this year. I know those of you who are dedicated readers of my blog are depending on me to keep on keeping on – and I will try not to disappoint you.  The blog will continue.  But I would also like to continue my work in the area of regulatory policy.  To accomplish this, I need to work in a different way with FDA.  As it stands now, I speak to them – admittedly a little less this year than over the past several years – but still we speak from time to time.  I even think they listen to me sometimes and I certainly listen to them. I know a number of them read this blog.  Unfortunately, I no longer find this to be enough (I never did, truth be told).  I want to be on the inside, not the outside.  I want to try and give them a more real worldview of the implications of their policy considerations before they actually become policy and I would like to do this not just for the anti-infective division, but for those in the commissioner’s office as well. At the same time, I expect to get a better understanding of their view of the big policy picture and to try and somehow help meld these sometimes disparate and paradoxical approaches to the same issues into something that comes closer to a middle ground.

I have made my wishes known to the FDA – but I admit that I have not yet seen them gush with enthusiasm over this offer. I was hoping that my retirement from consulting would ameliorate for them, at least to a certain extent, any conflict of interest that currently exists. I was also hoping that they actually would find my experience and knowledge (such as it is) useful to them.

But, I do have a backup plan.  If the FDA isn’t interested in my offer, I’ll just spend more time concentrating on the classical guitar and my next book.

To all you government employees out there – I feel your pain!

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