The FAA During “Drain the Swamp”
Emulating Samoan Fa’a Culture
President Trump has introduced his first budget and its impact on the FAA is traumatic both structurally (ATO becoming a federal not-for-profit corporation) and financially. Many have said that this proposal is DOA for a number of reasons, but the directions and broad parameters must be disturbing to the career staff at the FAA and other US organizations. Further, even if enacted (repeat: that’s considered a long shot, but a certain candidate was also given that rating), there are policies and procedures which will delay and vary the impact.
However, one may spin it, the phrase “Drain the Swamp” is likely to affect every federal employee and the career staff of the FAA.
According to OPM, in 1962 (President Kennedy) there were 2,485,000 Executive Branch civilian employees and as of 2014, the civil service roles numbered 2,663,000, but an apogee of 3,067,000 was reached in 1990 (President G.H.W. Bush). Over the last 27 years the federal census has gradually reduced.
There are many vocal critics of those employed within the Beltway and others who are supportive of the work being done. While the OPM and MSPB rules are designed to protect the federal workforce, they also have been found to deter contemporaneous positive rewarding of excellence in the workplace.
During a similar challenge to the FAA, the Administrator recited all of the calamities which the organization faced; he then reminded his colleagues that in any scenario there would still be an FAA. His message was that everyone needed to focus on her/his job and that by so doing, success in the face of that crisis was more likely.
In the tracking of news about the FAA, the google search revealed a similar word, Fa’a. It is a Samoan concept which has preserved an island culture for 3,000 years in which internal and external threats could have destroyed this people’s core values. Fa’a can be summarized as follows: interwoven threads of family, church, village and respect are tightly sewn into the fabric of all Samoans. Fa’a translate to a life of discipline, responsibility, hospitality and respect.
Fa’asamoa has kept Samoans strongly nationalistic, and suspicious of changes that might threaten the traditional structure of their way of life. This way of life has assured that its people remain loyal and has allowed them to reject the contrary and even compelling ways/goods/behaviors of foreign traders, missionaries, internal and external military attacks and now very enticing technology.
This Fa’a example might be adopted by the FAA during these threats of budget and related proposals. By remaining focused on the FAA mission and leaving to others the decisions as to the future, individuals will insure that aviation safety will continue to improve and on a personal level add to your personal performance (an asset for change both if you remain with the federal government and if your next position is in the private sector).
Fa’a @ FAA =supporting your sisters and brothers at work [your family], discipline & responsibility [your work], keeping the aviation safety faith/culture [religion] and being aware of the FAA’s mission [village/hospitality]. This approach has preserved this culture over 3,000 years of threats. This same Fa’a fervor may keep the island at 800 Independence Ave and associated archipelagos preserved through this next crisis.
Perhaps the FAA team could perform the haka like the Samoan rugby team perform a traditional Haka, or Siva Tau war dance, before playing USA in a Rugby World Cup Pool game. It might scare away the evil spirits and help add to internal unity. It works!!!
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