You are SO, SO right! This is especially true in any government job. I came here after many years in the private sector and tried to do the "above and beyond" sort of work I've always done. I came up with several innovations which save us a lot of time, which is very helpful with all the budget cuts we've suffered (30%). The reward for this is that I've got a lot of people who dislike me, not an extra dime of compensation and no hope of promotion this side of the grave. With motivation like that, I can see why most government workers seem to be useless drones. They're not really useless; it's an adaptation for survival in a bureaucracy. Whatever you do, don't stand out from the crowd. If you want to prosper, do exactly what you are told, no more, no less. If I do get laid off here (likely), I'm going back to where I worked most of my life, small companies in the private sector. There, if you don't have a PHB, you can actually be appreciated, and even compensated, instead of punished, for going above and beyond.
A company I worked at for nearly 9 years, had a wonderful review policy. Even if the employee was perfect on attendance, meeting goals, and had ZERO issues - the HR department required something on each review that the employee needed to "work" on. Relating to other employees, penmanship(yes they dinged someone for that once), showing up TOO early to work, etc. Every reason was obviously false or "worked" to twist a "good" into something "bad".
Management would never admit the policy, but talking with other employees made the policy obvious. We always wondered just what management reviews looked like - "shows difficulty in turning desk chairs counter-clockwise while sitting in them", "refuses to learn how to properly operate the copier", "has difficulty activating his PC every morning before 10 am", etc.
Our company requires employees to perform a self-review and then all managers evaluate them together to decide on a final grade.
I am not attached to my position and thus wrote "I borrowed a page from Six Sigma ad calculated my diligent, extraordinary work on project XYZ has saved the company 12 million dollars" followed by some gibberrish calculations. I expected someone from HR suggesting I should take some soft skill training but to my surprise, I was given a 6.8% raise.
I will write the work on my next project saved the human race from extinction on my next review and see if that gives me an even bigger raise.
My response to this one is to look for another job, if the company realizes they will pay out and ask if you're happy where the response is that you feel the company does not take you seriously enough.