I am a bureaucrat. Proud of it. These days, it troubles me when I see my profession portrayed as incompetent and protected from economic forces that call for improved performance.
The problem is that such criticism is half right. From my perspective, in large part, public service is constrained by defective and constraining laws, and leadership, that tolerate inefficient management.
It is time for reform. Here are my suggestions.
The public sector rarely looks for savings through better management. Legislators focus mainly on new programs or expanding existing ones, accompanied by budgetary gimmickry to cover increased costs. They work for a bigger share of expenditures in their jurisdictions.
Government employees at the same time, through their unions, view bigger government as a means to increase membership, jobs, promotions and income. By adding administrative layers to organizational structures, staffing opportunities multiply and opportunities for advancements increase.
Can it be changed? Sure. Introduce market forces into the public sector. Simply reward bureaucrats for budgetary savings. It could work with legislators as well.
Give civil servants, say, half the administrative costs they save as salary bonuses, or additional fringe benefits such as additions to their retirement accounts, or the funding of the college education for their kids.
A similar system can be structured to reward members of Congress for savings in program budgets.
Give legislators, say, half the program savings they pass for use in continuing programs in their districts. Reward their efforts to eliminate redundancies or the termination of dysfunctional programs, or the elimination of needless procedural complexities.
Jaime L. Manzano
federal senior executive and foreign service officer (retired), Bethesda
Wis. recall election
Thursday’s column on the implications for federal workers of Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker’s (R) recall election victory generated divergent comments.
The message is pick on this small group of people so my taxes don’t go up when the taxpayer should be interested in seeing that the burden is shared across the taxpayer spectrum. Civil servants wish they were treated like other taxpayers. Instead they were pushed into lower paying wages during good economic times with future benefits promised and now they get that taken away. Par for the course under Republican administrations. The huge debt is built up by cutting taxes to the rich and the debt is then used as an excuse to cut what was promised to civil servants. It is unethical and shameful.
I really hate to gloat, but in the Wisconsin election the majority has slapped the greedy unions down in favor of fiscal responsibility.
No amount of excuses and sour grapes here will change the facts of what has happened.