MPA Thesis Subject: Government Efficiency – Want your input!!!

We (team of two) are doing our MPA thesis on how to do more in government with less resources. We would love to hear comments from you, who are already in the government workplace, on what your ideas on for improving efficiency or areas that you see that need improvement. Your input is invaluable and greatly appreciated.

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Hey Michael – Any specific area of focus? Fed/state/local? Areas of efficiency (types of programs? external facing vs internal?)

I’m sure you’ve read it but this is a great report from GAO on streamlining –

I think when gov’t starts looking on how to do more w/ less, I think it’s key to look at what roles are key to government and govt should do VS just enable. For example, IRS could have build a huge e-filing system themself but instead partnered with various private firms who provide competing e-filing systems that IRS engages/interacts with.

Michael Mancarti

@GovLoop. We are honing in on particular areas, but don’t want to impede anyone’s input or imagination by stating what that is at this point. Especially because so many ideas can cross over boundaries and apply in multiple situations. Thank you for the link to the report – we haven’t read that yet. Also, it seems you are hinting at privatization at the bottom of your post – definitely one alternative we are evaluating in the paper to determine its effectiveness at achieving efficiency. From what we have learned so far, it’s definitely no guarantee – it very much depends on the circumstances for that particular situation.

Thank you again for your input and we look forward to more!

Eric Melton

Govvies do “more with less” all the time…

A key way to succeed is finding ways to collaborate across an enterprise (example, one network for many, versus many networks) which is more effective than separate “stovepipe” solutions.

A key area (often neglected) is Planning, which becomes harder to do once you’re already down to “less” (and the focus is just to get something done). Effective planning and requirements capture can eliminate costly rework later.

So one must have the foresight and patience to plan effective solutions, processes, etc., and somehow balance tasks enough to do the planning regardless of the “hair-on-fire” operational pace.

Good luck with the Thesis!


Doug Tharp

Two big things I see, in completely unrelated areas. First, selfishness/power in senior management. If you suggest combining similar activites across divisions/departments to improve efficiency and reduce the need for resources, each manager will give you his many reasons why he can’t possibly give up the person who does that function for a few hour per week. They fear their authority will disminish if their FTE count is reduced. The other item is either the fear of public opinion or lack of trust/ethics? We encumber ourselves so greatly with rule upon rule of why you can’t do something in the government either to maintain the appearance of fairness or prevent anyone questioning why we did what we did. If we truley had the trust of government management and trust of the people we serve, and demonstrated uncompromising ethical standards, then we would stop making rules about all the ways we can’t get something done, and actually work on solutions to improve our productivity and value.

Mark Hammer

Let’s embark on a green path for a shift in direction.

How much power does the organization consume needlessly? How much unnecessary printing does it engage in? How much are the heating costs? How much parking does it require?

I was somewhat taken aback several years ago when Ilearned that all those “energy star” motherboards that people thought were off when the screens went black were actually sucking 60W or more when in an “off” state, unless you completely killed power to the system. So I did some rough calculations for the building I work in and realized that, over a 3-day weekend, from a hypothetical closing time of 4:30 on Friday, to a hypothetical startup time of 8:30 on the following Tuesday, all those computers were using several megawatts to basically generate heat.

Yesterday I watched someone box up piles and piles of reports published on glossy paper, that somebody will probably ask for, but we decided we don’t have storage space so they’re off to the shredder.

Certainly, personnel costs account for the lion’s share of any public agency’s budget, but how much latitude is there for reducing operating costs by adopting a greener approach?

That sort of question strikes me as more appropriate to a master’s level thesis. You could pick a couple of sample agencies of different mandates, and geographical distributions, and see what sorts of unrealized savings might exist, and perhaps what the barriers are to taking advantage of them.

Christopher Whitaker

What’s your question exactly? I’m at a local office in a state that MUST cut everywhere and anywhere. Some of these policies are good things (going green by not having to print reports, scanning things into a central system to cut down on shipping papers everywhere) and some of these things are bad (not replacing staff, forcing everyone to file online before the system is ready)

At the end of the day, the thing that’s proven most effective in my office is elbow grease.

Michael Mancarti

@everyone. Thank you so much for your input. You all have great ideas that have helped spark others. Thanks again and we look forward to sharing a brief summary of the results after we conduct our research! Cheers.