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How Does the Government Decide Which Workers Are Essential?

Pentagon officials don't like using the word 'essential' when it comes to furloughing employees. So how do they decide who's exempt from the shutdown? By Brittany Ballenstedt

While political stalemate remains the top story during the now-15-day government shutdown, a lead social networking site for government employees has launched a new campaign to change that trajectory and emphasize the hard work of federal employees.

GovLoop’s “You Are Essential” campaign, launched Friday, invites government employees to explain why their jobs are essential. Those stories will be shared in GovLoop’s online community, and each contributor will receive a pack of “I am Essential” stickers that highlight the crucial work of government.

“When I turn on the news, I see stories about politics instead of the people behind the shutdown,” said GovLoop Founder Steve Ressler. “Our message is clear: Let’s promote the importance of public service instead of ‘shutting down’ government employees by labeling them ‘non-essential.’”

The social network also is inviting federal employees as well as their family and friends to change their profile pictures on Facebook to support those who are now in their third week of furloughs because of the government shutdown.

[Click for Defense One's complete shutdown coverage.]

The effort has currently solicited more than 500 responses from government employees who provide essential services. “I help businesses enter foreign markets every day, helping create US jobs,” one respondent said. “I take care of the IT work so that the researchers can find a cure for cancer,” said another. “I provide technical assistance to small businesses and rural government officials,” another fed commented.

“Looking at the responses reemphasizes the extent to which government workers empower, enable and enact change in the United States,” Ressler said.

What makes you essential to the important work of government? Feel free to share your story in the comments below, or visit GovLoop’s campaign by clicking here