Peter Thomas - Government Knowing Its Constituents

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“Government Knowing Its Constituents”

The United States was founded on a principle of choice. That choice is reflected in how we’ve named our country. We are a collection of smaller governments who govern local issues, how they see fit, with assistance and oversight from a central government. If there was $100 million left in the U.S. budget, those funds should be allocated towards the federal government’s responsibility in supporting local choices.

$100 million is about one quarter of the budget of the U.S. Peace Corps, an organization that sends passionate Americans around the world to deliver assistance in coordination with local partners. Next to its mission of delivering technical assistance, the Peace Corps aims to create a better cultural understanding and fellowship between the U.S. and the countries where PC volunteers serve. This, I feel, is a philosophy that is lacking here at home, where most voters and consumers concern themselves with national issues and fail to fully understand what is happening in their own neighborhood.

Given $100 million, I would expand upon the U.S.’s existing program, AmeriCorps, and create an atmosphere for Americans to volunteer in local government to create a better understanding for its constituents. Too often does government choose to yield to local interest groups (non-profits, community organizations and religious organizations) to provide primary services to the community, instead of realizing the community’s needs itself. They rely on news media, academia and think tanks to tell who their community is, instead of knowing for themselves.

Americans need a reason to become more motivated in their local government, and if local government continues to pass the responsibility of knowing and serving its constituents onto other organizations, then local government is simply acting as a middleman. There is an abundance of bright and motivated citizens in these United States and given the opportunity to serve, I believe we can bring local government back to better serving its people.

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Read other finalist essays for the GovLoop/NASPAA Scholarship.

- Evan White - “Promise Neighborhoods for a Promising Future”

- Mark Van Horn - “Using Computer Games to Simulate Policy Problems in the United States”

- Mauricio Cifuentes - “The Social Innovation Fund: Implementing Effective Bottom-up Solutions”

- Jay Sher - “Federal R&D Prizes for Technological Investment and Innovation”

- Danny Vasconcellos - "Government Getting it Right: The GAO"

- Kevin Sonoff - “Primary and Secondary Education: The Path to Recovery”

- Maggie Healy - “Funding the Information Age, Beyond Infrastructure”

- Alex Luboff - “A Fiscal, Social, and Environmental Sustainability: Urban Agriculture Fighting Poverty”

- Joseph Towner - “Community Service Grants”

- Elizabeth Selbst - “Fund Local Land Banking to Reverse Urban Sprawl”

- Neil Patrick Reilly - “A Boost to Rentals and Public Housing”

- Lee Blum - “The World's Best Vocational Institute”

- Brian Footer - “Local Government Grant Program”

- Daniel Turner - “Invest in the Future”

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