Tuesday, December 15, 2009


This may sound funny but the quickest way to cure one of the belief that government can solve problems is to see the dysfunctional way that government works from the inside. In an ideal world government functions to serve and be accountable to the public.

One of the saddest parts of governance is a function I call proceduralism. The ritual of procedures and forms becomes larger than the function. Who really benefits from cases that go on for decades?

Perhaps some day we will see true government service. A person comes in seeking a benefit and a person gets a straight answer you need to do X or a simple no. Too often the atmosphere is adversarial. Public servants should remember our job is to serve. Management should also do everything in its power to get workers the tools they need to accomplish reasonable goals.

It is important to understand all players are a mix of good and bad. I was not too fond of lawyers but after working with them one sees a mix of good and bad. It takes a larger mind to see their role as advocate. Sometimes their information is vital and it never hurts to listen. One must listen first,evaluate and if action is needed
clearly convey what is expected. In short you want X but we need you to provide Y. In situations that can not be resolved one should explain what the impasse is with a
description of options in a hopeful tone.

Government workers should understand our role is to deal with existing laws, rules and policies. We may have feelings on certain issues but our jobs are to follow the law, albeit with a lot of common sense. While we do serve the people in front of us our larger service is to the nation as a whole.

I did not enter governance with the mindset I could change the world. However, more often than one thinks we do change lives. Sometimes all it takes to make a day is that smile of the person in front of you. Other times it is important to acknowledge the frustration of the person in front of you. I understand things are tough, but we are doing out best to see this gets resolved if possible. Sometimes explaining what steps are being taken or the obstacles does help matters. This alleviated the concerns of a person who had been waiting for years and did get a happy ending.

In essence government needs to understand our ultimate boss is the people we govern.
While our jobs are important, so is our mission to serve to the best of our abilities. Procedures, rules and policies are guidelines how to carry out our functions. However, the rote of procedure should not become larger than the mission


Always On Watch said...

Perhaps some day we will see true government service.

I've got my doubts about that.

Anonymous said...

Yes, algebraic equations with more than one unknown variable are difficult to solve.

This should be the mission of all who wish return customers, regardless of the field of occupation. We all work for the people. Some of us, just, aren't paid with tax dollars.

It is understandable that our public servants feel used/abused. They are. But isn't that why they hire on?

CM said...


Another sad thing is "A Directive", big shots use this to make the little guy who wants to get ahead do the dirty deed.

The little guy/girl is threatened with being insubordinate if he doesn't do the deed....and so it goes....