Elizabeth Knox Online

In some ways, “government acquisition” (the process of the government buying things) is as boring as it sounds. Even the simplest purchases can require an almost endless amount of paperwork, and it literally takes years for many decisions to be made. So, many government workers naturally view acquisition as the least exhilarating part of their job. But not every government worker sees it that way.

A friend who works for the government was recently taking an acquisition class, and was pleasantly surprised to find a really energetic instructor. She obviously cared about her work as an acquisition professional and wanted her students to care about acquisitions too.

At one point she said to them “your work will impact people’s lives.”

It seems like a pretty strong statement for a field that, in day-to-day execution, is not known for excitement or a sense of a strong impact.

But she was right. Government acquisition decisions do impact people’s lives.

From huge ships for the Navy to soda straws for concession stands at national parks, our federal government buys a lot of stuff. A LOT of stuff.

  • When the government awards a contract to one company, people at that company may keep their jobs while those at another company may lose theirs
  • When the government releases a request for proposals just before the holidays, it impacts people’s ability to spend time with their families
  • When the government makes a decision about a major purchase, it can impact our country’s ability to function (depending on the quality and effectiveness of what was purchased)

It’s easy for us to get lost in the boring details of our jobs, too. To feel like all we’re doing is pushing paper around and making incremental decisions that never go anywhere. Trust me, I know.

But those incremental decisions build up to be major decisions. And those major decisions impact people’s lives.

If you haven’t done this lately: take 5 minutes and think through the impact of your job:

  • What are the small things you do every day that you think have no point?
  • How are those things ‘trickle up’ to impact people’s lives?
  • How can you do your job better, so that you have an even more positive impact on people’s lives?

Even if you aren’t crazy about your job, even if you think that no one cares, take your job seriously.

You are impacting people’s lives.

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