Ask me why I care.

Author:Paskowitz, Rita
Position:COMMENTARY
 
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The purpose of the Ask Me Why I Care: Public Service Stories project is to show young people, in this time of virulently antigovernment sentiment, that government jobs will allow them to tackle the most daunting issues in our society and to make a difference in peoples lives. To this end, Ask Me Why I Care has collected inspiring stories from more than 90 people in public service. The organization is making the videos of these stories available to middle school, high school, and college/university faculty, students, and guidance counselors to demonstrate how meaningful a career in public service can be. The project will produce four sets of 6-10 videos focusing on four major areas of public service: budget and financial management; health and human services; transportation and emergency; and public safety.

One of the videos, "Ode to Public Service," provides an excellent introduction. It is an original story that effectively communicates the many, many ways governments improve our lives every day. The other message is that government employees work not just to earn a salary, but to make a difference in people's lives.

A budget and finance video emphasizes the need to promote trust in government and the way transparency connects services and financial responsibility. One of the most important things people in public service do is manage the taxpayers' money so that an agency or government can effectively and efficiently provide services. This video focuses on six people who have worked primarily in public budgeting and financial management. Their inspiring stories provide a sense of the broad range of opportunities --at all levels of government--to make a difference through managing public finances.

In one video, Selvi Stanislaus, Executive Officer of the State of California Franchise Tax Board, says:

I was born in Sri Lanka. My father was a tax accountant. He helped indigent people with their tax returns. I remember sitting on his lap when he was compiling and completing tax returns. I was five years old. One of his key phrases when he looked out the door of our house at the line of people waiting for assistance was "Without a vision, the people perish." Remembering his words drew me to public service. Stanislaus oversees the second largest tax department in the nation, with more than 6,000 employees in California and its three out-of-state offices. She is also a part-time professor of tax law. In her spare time, Stanislaus does pro bono...

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