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Thread: Goal based government agency management

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    Goal based government agency management

    What is your opinion on this?

    People often talk about the need for the federal government to be run more like a business. However, one aspect of the management that never seems to change is how federal agencies are managed. I personally think that there could be some benefit in actually managing them like a business.

    For example, instead of congress giving out a budget and setting up an office to do some task. They instead appropriate money, set up the office and the goals. Then they let the office manage itself accordance to those goals (which have to be quantifiable). If the agency reaches its goal under budget, than the management of the agency gets perks, like a yearly bonus as a % of the money saved. If not, they get the appropriate response, up to and including being fired.

    The details on how they achieve their goals would be up to the agency managers, as well as staffing, procurement, pay, productivity, and other sorts of decisions. In essence, this would require congress to give up a lot of its authority, but I believe it would lead to better results.

    Do you think this would work? Why or why not?
    Last edited by tacomancer; 11-12-10 at 01:39 PM.

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    Re: Goal based government agency management

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    What is your opinion on this?

    People often talk about the need for the federal government to be run more like a business. However, one aspect of the management that never seems to change is how federal agencies are managed. I personally think that there could be some benefit in actually managing them like a business.

    For example, instead of congress giving out a budget and setting up an office to do some task. They instead appropriate money, set up the office and the goals. Then they let the office manage itself accordance to those goals (which have to be quantifiable). If the agency reaches its goal under budget, than the management of the agency gets perks, like a yearly bonus as a % of the money saved. If not, they get the appropriate response, up to and including being fired.

    The details on how they achieve their goals would be up to the agency managers, as well as staffing, procurement, pay, productivity, and other sorts of decisions. In essence, this would require congress to give up a lot of its authority, but I believe it would lead to better results.

    Do you think this would work? Why or why not?
    Governments don't function like businesses because the people don't have the stomach for them to function like businesses. Businesses can write off people in a way people aren't comfortable when it comes to government.

    For example, if it isn't economical to deliver mail in the countryside, then a business-orientated United Postal Service would restrict service to the cities.

    Businesses aren't burdened by the procedural limitations imposed a government by morally insistent people.
    Last edited by Morality Games; 11-12-10 at 02:53 PM.
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    Re: Goal based government agency management

    Government can't quite run like a business because many of the services cannot be market oriented or commoditized, such as the work of the FDA for example. Also who would be in charge of forseeing what goals were considered achievable or not.

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    Re: Goal based government agency management

    Quote Originally Posted by SE102 View Post
    Government can't quite run like a business because many of the services cannot be market oriented or commoditized, such as the work of the FDA for example. Also who would be in charge of forseeing what goals were considered achievable or not.
    Sure, you can't run it as a business, but you can still structure it like one. Look at the HR department of any large company. They are a cost center (like most federal agencies would be), yet they are given a budget and they often have to manage it internally, with certain departmental goals they have to meet. If they are under budget, than the director or VP gets good stuff thrown their way. If they are over budget, there is hell to pay.

    Its not about whether the service provided is profitable, but whether the function itself is run well. HR costs money, but the upper management sets the goals to be achieved and those goals can be at a loss yet still be either achieved or not achieved. However, (taking it to mail now) whether or not the mail is delivered to the country is not up to the post office, that is one of the goals congress would set. (this can be quantified too, as in the # of households that did not have mail service). What the department controls is how well they do it.
    Last edited by tacomancer; 11-12-10 at 02:59 PM.

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    Re: Goal based government agency management

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    Sure, you can't run it as a business, but you can still structure it like one. Look at the HR department of any large company. They are a cost center (like most federal agencies would be), yet they are given a budget and they often have to manage it internally, with certain departmental goals they have to meet. If they are under budget, than the director or VP gets good stuff thrown their way. If they are over budget, there is hell to pay.
    There is also the matter of privacy and property laws. Businesses have greater ability to hide information that would jeopardize their ability to make profit, like possible health risks, particularly if these risks are cumulative. These laws make it easier to sell products and manipulate reports to shareholders, and thereby to makes profits and refine their procedures. Governments have to accept most impediments to profit because it is morally unacceptable for them to keep non-military information secret. Transparency often amounts to inefficiency.
    Last edited by Morality Games; 11-12-10 at 03:02 PM.
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    Re: Goal based government agency management

    Quote Originally Posted by Morality Games View Post
    There is also the matter of privacy and property laws. Businesses have greater ability to hide information that would jeopardize their ability to make profit, like possible health risks, particularly if these risks are cumulative. These laws make it easier to sell products and manipulate reports to shareholders, and thereby to makes profits and refine their procedures. Governments have to accept most impediments to profit because it is morally unacceptable for them to keep non-military information secret.
    I don't see how FOIA requirements would be a barrier. If some citizen wants to see why a decision was made, they can request the documents. If they don't like what they see, they can lobby congress and of course there would be ethics guidelines.

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    Re: Goal based government agency management

    Quote Originally Posted by megaprogman View Post
    I don't see how FOIA requirements would be a barrier. If some citizen wants to see why a decision was made, they can request the documents. If they don't like what they see, they can lobby congress and of course there would be ethics guidelines.
    That's basically what happens. And it is why the government is inefficient. Because their processes are subject to moral and cultural specifications of what a government ought to do, not what enables them to obtain a profit.

    Companies -- think car and computer companies -- can consciously release faulty products as long as the errors are negligible to the point they have plausible deniability, even if these errors result in injury or death. That is very helpful when it comes to meeting project deadlines and other important conditions of a profitable business. There is (sometimes) trouble on the off chance the public finds out, but that is an inconsistent development, because the laws make it difficult for the public to obtain the information. They also have the added protection of just "being a business." In the United States, at least some people will support them to some measure because they are private institution.

    The government doesn't enjoy that leisure.
    Last edited by Morality Games; 11-12-10 at 03:14 PM.
    If you notice something good in yourself, give credit to God, not to yourself, but be certain the evil you commit is always your own and yours to acknowledge.

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