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Study: College seniors wary of government jobs

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- Many college seniors in the United States want jobs that help the public, but are wary of seeking government work with its reputation for bureaucratic delay and waste, according to a study released Tuesday.

"It (government) has a persistent reputation as a place that does not do well in meeting student expectations on most of the things they value in a job," according to the survey conducted for the Brookings Institution, a private think tank.

"It is also seen as less than stellar in helping people, spending money wisely and being fair."

The study was based on a telephone survey of 1,002 seniors majoring in liberal arts and social work taken in April by Princeton Survey Research Associates. It found that the nature of the job, not the size of the paycheck, was still the key consideration in deciding where to work.

But those who want jobs that help people feel that nonprofit companies are much more effective than federal, state and local governments in serving individuals. Many are also confused about how to even apply for government work.

The survey concluded that major changes are needed in the way that governments hire, train and use workers in today's mobile world in order to give managers flexibility and make them more accountable for results.

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker told a news conference at which the study was released that rules governing federal personnel were drawn up for the industrial age rather than the computer age.

"We have had a decline in interest in serving government," said Volcker, who chaired a bipartisan national commission on public service.

Rumsfeld is at the forefront of a Bush administration drive to make it easier to hire and manage workers at the Defense Department, which employs about 700,000 civilians worldwide.

"When DOD (the Defense Department) goes to a college job fair, the person at the next table from a corporation is perfectly able to ... offer them a job, tell them what the bonus is, tell them where they will be working and when they can start," Rumsfeld said.

"When DOD interviews the same people, all we can do is offer them a ream of paperwork and a promise to get back to them in three to five months," he said.

Copyright 2003 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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