Text Box: CfGF




Form and Function

Public and Private Sectors


How You can Participate



Bringing change on a macro level in and between governments, as they are currently structured, is difficult. The resistance to realign resources in the public sector is engrained and multifaceted. Therefore it is difficult to apply second level management in a public organization. For example, the Department of Homeland security will never be very functional because its resources are distributed structurally rather than functionally. Form follows function is a maxim that is all but alien in the public sector. This was more or less the case in the private sector as well until management consultants "invented" reengineering. Now, in the private sector the CEO goes to the Board of Directors and advises that one third of the organization's resources have to be realigned in order to support goal attainment and they reach some consensus about how to do it or they fire the CEO. Now, in the public sector, the governor, president or mayor usually lives with the hodgepodge of resource distribution or, depending on the stakes, seeks legislative support for realignment and the legislature responds as best they can through compromise which is not a very functional way to realign resources. In the case of Homeland Security, we suspect President Bush relegated over 200,000 federal employees to the trash can because there was no way he could realign them to support goal attainment.

So, we need a new way to realign resources in the public sector and CfGF recommends that Congress create a mechanism to facilitate transitioning large groups of workers from one set of tasks to other sets of tasks. The Center suggests something we call DUoGR, (Differential Use of Governmental Resources). This is how it would work. Suppose we decided to do health care financing the way other countries do health care financing. One of the consequences would be that a million jobs or so would have to be realigned since that's how many people are currently supporting the way we do payments in health care financing. It would not be good for morale or for the economy to put a million people out on the street yet we have no way to transition them to more useful activities. DUoGR, in its simplest form, would be a mechanism through which jobs being realigned in the public sector, to more effectively support goal attainment, would, with their resources, be placed in a suspended status from which the folks in those positions could choose new jobs from a list of positions needing to be filled. Supervisors could also go to the list to find resources and bodies to carry out functions they have been directed to do but not provided adequate resources to accomplish. For example, in health care financing, hundreds of thousands of people currently push paper around to keep track of payments. These folks could choose new jobs from a list that might include picking up trash along the Androscoggin River, visiting with housebound residents of the community, calming hyperactive children, returning nutrients to the forests or any number of useful activities not now being done. Resources would be transferred to the most logical organizational unit of government to support such activity and compensation would be realigned over time to be in line with what folks in that unit are being compensated for when doing other like activities. Such a mechanism would be necessary should the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor consortium be successful in producing energy from nuclear fusion. Millions of people would need to be transitioned from jobs relevant to a fossil fuels economy to jobs relevant to a nuclear fuel economy. A variation on the theme might be a mechanism that would allow people to transfer from positions that they and or their supervisors believe are no longer productive to other work that needs to be done but does not currently have staff to do it. For example, there are 600,000 children waiting in foster care for what the public child welfare system calls "permanency" but there are not adequate people in the system to transition these children. I suspect there are at least 20,000 people in the federal bureaucracy, who are currently treading water, who would rather be placing kids in permanent homes. Twenty thousand people with a little training and good supervision could place half of those children in 18 months. We now have no way of realigning resources to maximize goal attainment in the public sector. A mechanism can be built to do so but it would require thinking outside the box. The Center encourages such thinking since there is enormous potential in government which cannot be actualized without thinking more creatively. Our DUoGR is one example of how people in government would need to think in order to bring about change at the macro level. We do not expect this to start happening any time soon but feel it is important to articulate what it would take to use the resources of big governments more productively.