it’s not like i’m briefing the secretary of state

When I started my current job last August, I also was tasked to be the Institute’s representative to the Department’s Internet Steering Committee. At my very first meeting and for a couple of months thereafter, the group complained about their frustration at the lack of participation and representation from my bureau in the past. I just apologized on behalf of the Institute, and tried to start being more responsive to the Committee’s needs.
So during this time, I’ve been working to provide information, and build bridges and relationships. In my first two months, for example, I created an annotated list of training materials and courses available to web developers from our bureau–a list I was told they’d been requesting from us for months. (To be honest, I’ve had to miss a few meetings when they conflicted with meetings here, but I’ve really been interested in the work of the Committee and have been engaged as much as possible.)
In February, the Committee authorized the creation of a Webmaster Working Group, a much more informal subgroup of web managers, developers and webmasters from across the agency. I wasn’t able to attend the first two meetings, but I sent people from my staff to make sure we were represented. Again, no one else from the Institute did so.
So today I was asked by the coordinator of the working group to come to their next meeting, next Thursday, to give a briefing about the training opportunities available for web developers. I agreed. I came back and ran it by my boss, just to clear it with her. She thought it was a great idea and a good opportunity for me, but suggested that I write it up in an email and send it to her, ccing her boss and her boss’s boss (the executive director for the Institute), just in case there were any political issues we weren’t seeing.
So I did. And the thing has gotten needlessly very politicized (surprise), and the Executive Director has replied that it is “probably ok” for me to attend the briefing (thanks a lot, since I wasn’t asking permission to attend, and since I’ve been the only one attending the Committee’s meetings all this time), but that we had to ask the registrar’s office and the School of Applied Information Technology (who as recently as last week decided not to announce one of their courses in a cable to posts because “they were afraid too many people might sign up”… just what sort of business do they think they’re in?) to give the briefing instead of me. These are the groups who haven’t been participating in the Committee, and who never provided the list of training opportunities the Committee had been asking for, and for whom I effectively ended up taking on that responsibility by researching and compiling that document.
I told the director that I was very confident that I could represent the Institute effectively, that the briefing was only 20 minutes so it needed to be a high-level overview rather than a drilling down into procedures and individual courses, and that I’d already done the preliminary work months ago–but I got shot down anyway. She said that even if the other two offices decline to send someone, I still will have to run my slides and comments by them for review and clearance beforehand. This was just meant to be an informal gathering of web managers, developers and webmasters at all levels to brainstorm and share information, not a presentation before the U.N.
So I’m hurt, angry and frustrated yet again by the political bullshit and a message that I’m either not trusted or not important enough to talk about the mission of the Institute, my own current responsibilities for managing training facilities and tools, and the previous work I’d already done in this arena on behalf of these other offices.
Some days I just don’t like working for the government.
The rest of the time I really hate it.