Saturday, June 15, 2019

How The Trump Administration Can Improve The Civil Service

1) Some thoughts on how the Trump administration can improve government - specifically the civil service. (6/15/19) 

2) The first thing to recognize is that the civil service has become an impediment to the smooth functioning of the country. 

3) This may sound strange and even suspicious coming from a civil servant. But I don’t propose to do away with the institution, only to transform it into a more effective body of workers. 

4) As you know as always all opinions are my own.

5) I am not calling for civil service reform. A lot of people already do that. 

I think we need to eliminate all assumptions, start from scratch and rebuild it.

6) This doesn’t mean firing everyone.

7) It means admitting that the system is not doing what we need it to do, which is to provide a return on investment to the citizens.

8) An example would be the Hatch Act issue and Kellyanne Conway. She is an adviser to the President, who is a politician above all. It’s not realistic to tell her she cannot be political.

9) The problem with the Trump Administration is that they tend to pole-vault over the fact that the bureaucracy does still exist, and while it exists you have to respect it.

10) I do not think the President has shown much respect for federal employees; they are treated as an impediment; and that is a doggone shame and a wasted opportunity.

11) In any case, the first principle of government ought to be accountability to the people. Right now accountability is dead last on the priority list.

12) If accountability were first, we the people would know at all times where our money is going.

13) We would have access to all laws, rules, regulations and records in a unified and intuitive way.

14) We would not have to navigate a cadre of lawyers in order to negotiate what we want from the system.

15) Issues related to civil liberties, privacy, censorship, and due process would be part of customer service. 

For example, do you know what to do in any interaction with the police? What your rights are?

16) My husband wrote a blog about his interaction with a law enforcement official who lectured him about transgender issues in the course of a citizen transaction. It is frightening to think how that situation could have ended if the person chose to abuse their power.

17) The fact that none of us knows what’s going on in Iran and we’re about to go to war which means people will die should be a full-stop warning.

18) Based on a single video which is grainy we are supposed to just follow along, as we did in Syria with the claims of chemical weapons.

19) If the fake news media can embed reporters in wartime why isn’t the government putting public affairs officers and observers all over the place?

20) Let’s talk about the hiring process.

21) In the government people are hired in a theoretically neutral process but bureaucrats know how to manipulate every process to benefit themselves.

22) Some examples include writing a selective placement factor that will unnecessarily leave out qualified candidates; leaving a job open for a very short time; and writing a job description in obtuse terms.

23) Government by its nature uses the citizens’ money and as such the main thing it should do with that money is get the most benefit for the least cost.

24) But it is common for bureaucrats to circumvent the cumbersome hiring process (they may not even be allowed to hire for a certain function) and use expensive contractors instead.

25) The government spends a billion dollars a year on advertising and public relations contracts. Why? 

26) Most of the so called outreach the government does is a waste of money.

27) The proof of this is that you probably don’t know what the government is doing, what things you’re entitled to, how to get information, how to provide input on things that matter, or how to complain.

28) What the government needs is to communicate in ways that are skilled, accessible and transparent.

29) However, doing this would mean that people are empowered to complain and potentially affect plans. Which is why the system, despite all well intentioned efforts, is rigged and must change.

30) As a substitute for citizen input, some bureaucrats have taken on the mantle of citizen champions. That’s fine but it comes with a generous helping of contempt for the very citizens they serve. Again this is unconscious.

31) The civil service and the administrative state are bloated and have come to be self-justifying; the bureaucrats are a stakeholder group unto themselves when they should be the servants of the people.

32) Another factor has to do with consensus and risk. To an extent we want to include everyone in big decisions and consider all the downsides.

33) But the administrative state selects leaders who are fundamentally self aggrandizing and self preserving, and therefore only too willing to go along with decisions that are bad.

34) The independent thinker, the reformer, the revolutionary is weeded out in this system, because they act in ways that endanger the survival of the group.

35) The Democrat in this system is favored because administrative logic mirrors the marketing pitch of communism, the greatest good for the greatest number and we decide what that good is and should be.

36) Instead of simplifying the rules, the system employs many people whose job it is to interpret the rules, and only they can interpret them.

37) Again I wish to say that I think the President has erred in demonstrating disrespect for the people who work in the civil service. The system’s flaws are not their fault.

38) In addition, federal employees are extremely detail-oriented, education-oriented, and savvy from having been battered by irrational political appointees and abusive bureaucrat bosses alike.

39) Federal employees consistently say that they are motivated by a true dedication to serve, and this is borne out by many stories of people who went out of their way to make sure a citizen got helped.

40) I am only arguing here that we should focus ourselves as a country on what we want from the civil service, and civil servants, build that up, and get rid of everything that doesn’t work.



All opinions are the author’s own. Public domain.