The problem is the human factor. As follows:
- Government cannot decide whether its jobs are ultimately a "jobs program" or the products of a legitimate workforce planning system based on merit. Meaning, some people are getting paid as a way of paying them back for other things. This is inefficient.
- The most highly paid people in the civilian government workforce are theoretically there to make the difficult decisions that will lead the organization forward. As a practical matter however their hands are tied by the irrational demands made of them by those higher up in the system. Most of the time, they cannot challenge such decisions unless they are willing to lose their jobs in the process.
- The level of technology literacy among experienced government employees is shockingly low. Every dollar we spend having people design work solutions based on outdated knowledge is a dollar wasted. The reason that seasoned government employees are not technology-literate is that their leadership generally does not invest, motivate or otherwise compel them to take steps in this direction. It's just too much of a hassle.
- Similarly, the government does not effectively or efficiently collect or use data to drive decision-making. The reasons for this are debatable but probably have something to do with the very human fear that data, and the accountability it drives, will result in losing both power and money.
- For the sake of expediency, government executives rely heavily on contractors to accomplish work. This is a failure of both leadership and management; a cadre of well-trained, well-managed and properly paid government employees would get the same work done at a far lower cost.
Federal employees are overwhelmingly dedicated to serving the public. Properly managed, trained and empowered to make improvements as needed, they could save a great deal of taxpayer money in the process.
Content and photo by Dr. Dannielle Blumenthal. Public domain. All opinions are the author's own.