It has become politically convenient to call for cuts to federal agency budgets and steep reductions in the numbers of federal employees.

Those raising the calls, however, give little consideration to how those actions could adversely affect services that the American people depend on.

Undoubtedly, responsible actions can be taken to reduce government spending, and federal employees are prepared to do their part.

Budget cuts can become dangerous, however, when they affect our ability to defend our borders, monitor our food and water supply, safeguard our banking system, or any other of the many critical services that we count on and take too much for granted each and every day.

I am president of the National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 141, representing nearly 400 customs and border protection officers, agriculture specialists and non-uniformed CBP employees throughout Maine, Southern New Hampshire, and in Halifax, Nova Scotia. These officers and employees are among the most highly skilled, talented and dedicated federal employees and people.

Every day, they go above and beyond the call of duty to protect our borders from illegal entries, our food and commerce from threats to our agricultural base and economy, the influx of illegal drugs, and they collect duties, fines, penalties and fees that serve as additional revenue for the United States.

These employees from CBP and dozens of other government agencies are doctors, lawyers, computer programmers, law enforcement officers, scientists, food inspectors, textile workers, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, janitors, secretaries and other highly trained, dedicated professionals.

It is also important to remember that they are not faceless bureaucrats. They are your friends, your neighbors and members of the communities in which we live. We see them in grocery stores and churches, at school events, volunteering in the community, and at the parks and ballfields.

They pay their taxes and support local businesses and economies. Their children play alongside ours. They are an essential and critical part of the fabric of our communities and have chosen a career that supports our way of life and are dedicated to public service.

When entering public service, federal employees begin their careers with an oath:

“I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter. So help me God.”

Federal employees do not take these words lightly. They rest at the very heart of everything they do for their fellow Americans. Whether protecting our borders, finding ways for us to become energy independent, inspecting our food and drug supplies, caring for the air we breathe and the water we drink, or collecting revenue that makes all of this possible, these words are the cornerstone for the service federal employees give our country each and every day.

As I look across our great nation, I am amazed at and proud of the deep impact my colleagues have on the quality of the lives of every person in America.

It’s far too easy to take for granted the work they do. It is essential, however, that the American public and our representatives in Congress not overlook their important work that protects and preserves the American way of life.

I hope that everyone will take a moment to reflect on the contributions of federal workers and appreciate the commitment they make to serve the public. America’s federal employees truly work for U.S.


Alan D. Mulherin is president of the National Treasury Employees Union, Chapter 141, representing workers in Maine, New Hampshire and Halifax, Nova Scotia.