Better Ingredients, Better Government

09.11.2012

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Written by Tod Tompkins

Have you ever wondered what the servers of a restaurant think of the food? Would they eat it themselves? A survey by the Government Business Council delivered the inside scoop on what today’s federal managers are thinking.

Sampling nearly 600 GS-11 or higher government workers, the survey uncovered some major findings—but the one that caught my eye was on the topic of cost efficiency. The survey first asked managers to grade the cost efficiency of the government as a whole. According to the results, 59 percent rated the government with a C average or less. However, when it came to rating their own agencies, the poor scores increased, with 69 percent confessing that their cost efficiency was performing at the bottom half of the grading scale.

This suggests to me that the tight budget environment has not improved cost efficiency. In fact, reduced budgets may further exacerbate inefficiencies, as agencies drain resources away from transformational projects and towards more basic operations and maintenance (O&M). The rest of the data seems to confirm this suspicion, as the two areas respondents thought needed the most improvement were technology and workforce issues. This is unfortunate, since improvements in these areas can translate into improvements across the enterprise. Better technology can mean faster response time and better workforce management can result in impressive productivity gains.

As the debate rages on over government efficiency, I hope that those in charge recognize that cutting items in the budget doesn’t by itself increase efficiency; to do that, you need to invest in creating a smarter operation with technology, and a more agile workforce environment. After all, removing items from a restaurant’s menu doesn’t improve the quality of the other dishes; to do that, you have to invest in better ingredients. Let me know your ideas for helping the government become more efficient and effective. Connect with us in the comments section below, on Facebook or Twitter.

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