A Quick Thought On The Public Sector

Government should be smaller, leaner, and more efficient - there's massive room for improvement there. I know enough public servants and have heard enough stories to know that while there's great people doing great things in the public sector, there's also a lot of dead weight just waiting out the end of their careers.

But something that really bugs me is that when governments and political candidates talk about finding inefficiencies in the public sector or fixing broken departments, you seldom see an in-depth conversation of what those problems are and how they plan to work with the various stakeholders to effectively solve them. It's understandable why this doesn't happen - it's time-consuming, people have short attention spans, and "I'm going to find X dollars of savings" plays just as well. But it's exceedingly difficult to determine the impact of those savings without having that conversation. Saving money by using new tools to increase productivity and reduce costs is awesome and doesn't carry ill effects. Laying off half the fire department... probably carries more negative consequences. Choosing what to cut - and more importantly how to cut - is vital, and I don't think it gets the attention it deserves.

No one in their right mind would trust a mechanic whose description of a car's problem was "your engine's all fucked up." It concerns me that most people are happy to accept the equivalent of that from our potential political leaders.


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1 comment

  • I believe it was Kim Campbell who was misquoted as saying, “An election is no time to discuss serious issues.”

    I think a significant part of the problem is that reporters have been asking most of their questions about campaign process issues and poll results rather than about what the parties will actually do in power or challenging them on their assumptions.

    • Brian