February 5, 2011 at 9:00 pm #122210
Is there somewhere on the site a consolidated list of ideas for improving government?
February 6, 2011 at 8:23 pm #122226
Hey Wayne – Tell me a bit more what you’re looking for…there are probably dozens of conversations that get at that question…I’d be happy to narrow it down and share a few of them with you.
February 6, 2011 at 8:41 pm #122224
February 7, 2011 at 1:37 pm #122222
February 7, 2011 at 1:55 pm #122220
A couple of points.
1) If there was ever a time when people weren’t discussing how to improve government, I’m not aware of it. If there was ever a time when the ideas being bandied about were brand spanking new, I’m not aware of it. If there was ever a time when people were discussing the same old things but calling them something different, I’m not aware of it.
2) “Improving” means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, and when you incorporate multiple levels of government, the number of meanings of “improve” multiplies. Our municipality tries to “improve” service by identifying sites for offices that reduce the drive people have to make to use municipal services, pay bills, etc. My federal department tries to “improve” the manner in which oversight of federal hiring occurs. The department downstairs from me tries tio “improve” fiscal accountability within government. Like Andrew says, you need to narrow it down a bit.
3) Suggestions for improvement are not the same thing as agreed-upon commendable practices. If there is any sort of gathering of commendable practices, you’re likely to find it in public administration textbooks, rather than on any site. At the same time, what gets touted as a commendable or (shudder) “best” practice is not always transportable across contexts. A given practice/idea may work fabulously in context A, because A provides favourable circumstances, but miserably in context B. For example: performance pay can work well in the private sector at lower levels, because a) “better” performance may be easily measured, and b) better performance tends to generate greater revenues to fund those performance bonuses or pay adjustments. Performance pay does NOT work well in the public sector because a) “better” performance is often hard to measure in any equitable manner, b) highly unionized environments make the need for demonstrable parity across managers and organizational units that much greater, and c) “better” performance in many areas of the public sector often results in no revenues to offset pay increments, and often greater costs. The bottom line is that improvements nearly always demand deep knowledge (current and past contexts) about the organization or government in order to be developed and successfully implemented.
February 7, 2011 at 5:36 pm #122218
Ask your citizens! There are several crowdsourcing solutions available, some of them are even free for civic engagement purposes. Here are a couple examples:
They mayor of our city has announced a program call iMesa to solicit ideas for improving the city of Mesa, Arizona. Those ideas will be vetted by a group of citizen appointees, who will forward some of those ideas to the City Council and possibly even to the ballot for approval by voters (and possible approval of funding to implement those ideas.)
The site associated with that effort is here: http://imesa.mesaaz.gov
February 7, 2011 at 8:57 pm #122216
Hi Mark, you make some good points.
I strongly suspect that the reason that Local Governments and other organisation incessantly recycle the same old theories under a new name is BECAUSE they are documented in textbooks & not on websites. Publish the information on the web under a creative commons or similar licence, and perhaps then we can stop reinventing the wheel.
February 7, 2011 at 8:58 pm #122214
Thanks Steve, I have added a link to the blog.
February 8, 2011 at 3:46 am #122212
I love the suggestion by Jim Mack of asking the citizens. Citizens (or other served people) are an often overlooked, but excellent source of criticism and suggestions. Building a system that helps you communicate more effectively with the people you serve is never a bad idea and always helps the bottom line if it’s done right. I specialize in this and believe in it completely.
The US Department of Defense is subject to Title 10 statutes. Within the last decade, Congress was so moved to “force” improvements – particularly in the area of investment due diligence and spending – that they passed a law, codified in Title 10 statute, that basically directs the DoD to put all business related investment IT spending (modernization, engagement or development activity) through a prescribed due diligence process, and get senior Department “obligation authority” before proceeding with new business IT investments.
The thinking was informed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and the government Accountability Office (GAO), and I believe it was an attempt to get a jump on what many now know is a severe and increasing budgetary strain. The goals seem to be engaging senior folks in these investment decisions and providing them with an effective decision support system. This will in turn enable the Department to overcome stove pipes, make interoperability possible, and reduce the hemorrhaging of $$ through uncoordinated decisions, redundant investments, and a plethora of failed projects and costly after-the-fact interfaces.
The good news to me is the fact that they didn’t reinvent the wheel. They changed the wording, but they basically applied the same tools that have worked in the US since Euclid vs Ambler in 1931. They replicated the master planning, zoning and due diligence methodology used by cities and counties all over the US – except Houton, TX.
The bad news is the DoD culture doesn’t change easily, so instead of adopting a proven investment decision making system, the DoD has thus far run down every path BUT the path laid out by the statute.
I think if you speak with some authority in local govt, and you have problems such as stove piped decision making, uncoordinated IT spending, and interoperability challenges, the system proposed in the statute could be made to work.
I am happy to discuss, provide links and / or accept an expenses paid vacation to Australia to help get you started. 😉
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