Government Jobs Suck

Ben Balter enumerates 19 reasons why technologists don’t want to work at your government agency. post

Technologists would much rather answer the call of civic service than optimize yet-another-mobile-app’s ad revenue.

As noted before, “[t]he talent you want would be happy to work in an un-air-conditioned garage in New Mexico if it meant the chance to change the world”. Government provides just such an opportunity, but you’ve got to at least meet them half way.

While other industries might have golden handcuffs, I’d argue that the biggest barrier keeping technologists out of government today is often their “digital handcuffs” — becoming accustomed to a culture that optimizes tooling and workflows for developers, and a culture that values shipping above all else (and a culture that’s not impossible for you to emulate).

If you’re a government agency trying to attract technical talent to your innovation efforts, it’ll take more than a fancy title. Focus on building an environment that supports innovation, and more specifically, one that supports innovators. If you build it, they will come.


There was a time that all programming jobs sucked except maybe those hidden deep within university computing centers where resources were available and free inquiry a tradition.

Extreme programming rewrote the expected division of responsibilities between programmers and the people they served. Many of the practices Ben cites grew out of respect for organizational goals by programmers who understood every decision they made in every line of code they wrote had the possibility of creating value.