The solution any lazy government worker will not want to hear

There’s been a lot of talk about sequestration and the budget crisis as well as the federal government’s economic woes. We hear about spending and cuts from the right and more stimuli spending from the left, but neither side is really holding people’s feet to the fire on an issue that addresses both sides.

We need to discuss the issue of accountability and the efficiency of government.

Republicans want to control government spending by cutting money to each program, Democrats want more programs. The net result is a lot of inefficient government.

uncle sam fat can't handle the truthYou never hear politicians talking about holding government workers accountable for their own productivity, even though it’s the number one issue in private industry. When a business wants to increase its profits, it cuts some spending sure, but more often than not, its raises its expectations from its staff and workers. Government doesn’t. Government workers they are understaffed and don’t have enough money, and when the government wants to get more done it simply asks for more money. Schools are lousy? Raise taxes. Pensions are underfunded? Raise taxes. Need new mass transportation system? Raise taxes.

Let me give you a hypothetical example.

Let’s say a private company fixes broken streetlights. They average for the company is 1000 lights year fixed. Because of bad weather, bad luck, or population expansion, they have fallen behind and need to fix almost 1500 lights this year.

Now this private company most likely would increase its fixed light quota, hold those people accountable for not fixing them fast enough, or maybe offer a small bonus to its top light fixers and let go people who weren’t productive.

Government doesn’t do this. It simply hires more people to fix lights, thus ensuring the people not performing to continue to underperform, and increase costs for next year. This goes on year after year and government gets bigger and more expensive. It even builds into its budgeting automatic department increases, and calls it “zero line budgeting.”

Government needs to stop this practice and start holding people accountable.

For one thing, its management staff needs to start managing, and stop promoting because of seniority. Quotas, productivity standards and job expectations need to be clearly spelled out and employees held accountable to those standards. In times of fiscal belt-tightening this means you work harder to make up the slack — not hire more people to do the job. That’s not expanding the economy and creating jobs, that’s simply adding fuel to the debt fire.

Worse, because they don’t let unproductive workers go, it unfairly puts a burden on the harder working people. Sort of like Obama’s economic idea’s where the workers’ pay for the non-workers.

State governments also need to learn the same lesson. Office managers who claim they need to cut back because of spending cuts and can’t do their job, need to go. They need to come up with more ways for their offices to be efficient and hold employees up to a higher standard of productivity. When management in private industry can’t control costs or get workers to increase their productivity, they are demoted or fired. After all, what good is a manager who can’t manage?

In short, government needs to be run more like private industry. It means a complete turnaround from the way government has always been run. And how do you do this?

First off, it means recruiting and maintaining more private industry business people into government. Human resources also needs to raise hiring standards to hire quality people into a job, and reject the standards that it currently holds of quotas and points systems. It should also recruit from the best colleges, and not the unemployment line.

You also need to give them the authority to make changes or let people go. Government jobs can no longer be sacrosanct. Furthermore, we need to reject the idea that government workers are entitled to lifetime defined benefit pensions and shift those retirement plans to more flexible 401k and deferred compensation plans. This prevents long-term drains on productivity and encourages employees to provide for their own retirement. Private industry did that years ago, and its worked wonders for the bottom line and provided a better retirement for workers that took advantage. Retired workers needs to also go into Medicare at 65 like the rest of American workers, instead of being dependent upon expensive private health plans.

Government workers must be as responsible for their own lives as much as private industry workers are.

Thomas Purcell is a contributor to The Brenner Brief. Twitter: @LotusTom

Thomas Purcell is a contributor to The Brenner Brief. Twitter: @LotusTom

It takes a bold leader, to run for office, and work with the county and state attorneys to rebuild our civil service system and make it a model for the rest of the country to follow. Would it be difficult? You bet — most likely a lifetime project. Look at how much heat Gov. Scott Walker took for addressing the school union problem in Wisconsin.  Does it need to be done?

Take a look at Detroit, if you want to see the end result of big government, high taxes and urban decay— urban decay from a lack of funds and business fleeing for lower tax havens. This week, a panel came to the conclusion that its budget woes are insurmountable, with the only option being municipal bankruptcy and insolvency.

Great leadership comes with great consequence, but it often comes with great results.

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Comments

  1. richardbaris says:

    I just saw a report that 1/2 of Detroit property owners simply did not pay there property taxes. Hilarious!

  2. actually they can start by getting corporations out of gov, get lobbiests to go home, and reduce their employees status, but first you would have to get rid of greed, selfishness and envy out of the hearts of people, politicians, ceos, bankers etc. back to the rule of law have fun trying to do this.

  3. You make some excellent points. I would like your readers, however, to understand that most government employees are not lazy. Almost all firefighters, police officers, teachers, military members, clerical workers, and, believe it or not, local, state, and federal politicians, Republican and Democratic, that I have had contact with have been very pleasant, helpful, and hard working. Almost all state and local government workers (Well, except for the state elected politicians) in my area (Ohio) have gone several years with little or no raises or with wage/benefit cuts.

    During the night and early this morning I heard the snow plow drive by several times clearing the roads from an overnight snow/ice storm before residents left for work. That snow plow driver is a non-lazy government worker.

    On the other hand I’ve had dealings with private workers who were rude and didn’t care at all to provide assistance or to be bothered. But I know that most private workers work hard.

    So, bottom line is that there are lazy government workers, but most work hard, and there are lazy private workers, but most of them also work hard. Let’s be careful not put a label of lazy on a whole group of folks, but on those individuals who do deserve that label.

    On a related positive note, I read recently that the number of FEDERAL government workers has been cut over the past 4 years at its highest number since the George H.W. Bush administration 1988-1992.

    • I never said they were lazy- I said they were unproductive which is an entirely different matter. You can work very hard at your job and be unproductive. This is why managers are used- to manage the staff, and make them productive. Without turning over staff for more productive help, and more productive managers and by getting the work done by just spending more money on more help, you are setting yourself up for failure. The title of the article was the editor’s choice.

      • Good point, lazy vs. unproductive.

        Thanks for clarifying that you did not write the title. I have always assumed that the authors of the articles at this blog wrote their own titles. Replacing “lazy” with “unproductive” in the title would have been a clearer, though less sensational and less attention grabbing, word choice.

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