The upside: the government certainly has smart people working on interesting projects. Some of the ideas and technology are astonishing. Most of the problems are well-worth solving. Some friends even get to carry guns.
What are the downsides? I made a list, as I heard discussed at the conference:
It’s hard to apply for the job. It is hard to get promoted. It is hard to attend conferences, hard to telecommute, hard to start work right away, hard to get permission to speak in public, hard to publish ideas, hard to send messages to your boss’s boss, and, by the way, the salary is lousy, there is a dress code; and you have to move to the Maryland/Virginia/DC area, where the houses are cheap, the commute is easy, and the taxes are low.
Okay, I lied about the last three.
If you add about three bullet points, you have a fair description of doing time in a medium-security prison, except you can talk about your work in prison. I have actually quit jobs because one or more of these bullet points became annoying.
Under these circumstances, the salary ought to be about 150% of that of a regular version of the job. I understand that government salaries are generally not allowed to exceed those of the boss or a senator. As a matter of policy, we should give both substantial raises, not because they necessarily deserve it, but because their underlings do.
From what I remember of friends who used to work for similar over here… yeah. Mostly the same.