Is a Government Manager able to account for every penny that passes through his organization? This is the sort of metric now being used.
What if that manager is required by poor regulations and instructions to enter into a contract with a lowest bidder who is unable to perform, wasting half the manager’s whole budget. Not only was the accounting good for this manager, but also for the contracting officer who was following the rules placed upon him, and for the contract inspectors who tried to get performance and failed.
And so we have the meaningless sort of metrics now being employed. They measure how up-to-date the organization is in automation. They measure how concerned the employees and managers are with customer satisfaction. They measure how much training the employees receive to increase their skill.
What they are missing is the most important ingredient. There is nothing except for these process-based measures that will indicate the difference between success and failure, and they have little connection with anything that might be called value. They address internal operation of the organization, but not the bottom line, or what value customers receive.
The missing ingredient is PRODUCT. There is no product-measure for Government to distinguish between successful and failed performance. To give this local reference, consider it in terms of congressional performance. What is it that our Congress must produce that will distinguish between success and failure in its performance?
The lack of any specific measure is the answer that has performance meaning. There is nothing that our Congress feels obliged to accomplish in order to be a success. To measure the performance upon which time and energy is expended yields a self-serving set of measures that can be defined as “having it our way.” Political leadership in Congress will announce success when they are able to fox the actions of their opposition, and push through items in their own agenda. This is hardly performance received by customers.
Performance metrics start at the top. They start with product, with something valuable to the organization that has to be gained. Unless, and until, we have something in terms of valuable product to be gained; our nation will continue to drift without any effective management.
The foundation for performance measures is also the foundation for industrial engineering. It started through realization that people who were organized intelligently to perform pre-planned productive efforts were able to get three to four times the performance outcome of those who were merely told to work at a task. With the development of engineering expertise, the workers actually found that they were doing the increased production in less time, and with reduced effort. They were able to go home more rested at the end of the day. The difference is that startling. This became the heart and foundation for industrial engineering, which was technical support for those who were responsible to gain a performance through a work group.
In the organized effort, with the technical support of industrial engineering, workers more than doubled their performance from what workers in the older work-gang accomplished under a boss. The difference was applied intelligence. Where the boss just directed the gang to do the task, the engineer designed the effort and the foreman organized and set it in motion. The difference was in the team approach.
There was a corresponding change in metrics, a change from measuring what each worker was doing to measuring what came out of the group effort. Industrial engineering promoted use of bottom-line metrics.
Higher management treated this teaming as a disease, and quarantined the building of performance teams in the production area. They insisted on using the measures that could be placed on individual workers, assuring that each worker did as much as they possibly could.
Where industrial engineering multiplied the output even while reducing workload, higher management insisted on continuing with the older and less effective approach.
Management engineering is an emerging study, one that arises from extension of industrial engineering into organizational management. This marks a breakout for the “disease of performance management” from the quarantine where management had it contained.
The heart of management engineering is that the office performer, whether in management or providing internal support to others, can also team; and that teaming will have an effect in the office environment very much like traditional industrial engineering had on the production floor. It can multiply performance even as it reduces workload.
One of the keys to application is performance metrics; it is measuring what comes out of the organization instead of trying to measure how hard each person is working within the organization. This is a bottom-line technique for metrics, and it is not how modern management chooses to measure its performance.
With our popular process-based metrics, measurements are relatively independent of organizational performance; each modern measure has its own self-referent metrics.
Management engineering is the logical approach addressed to the bottom line; it is still an emerging study as management has little inclination to measure how what we do in the office environment effects overall performance.
If the performance of the process of government is to be measured meaningfully, then there must be metrics that measure what the government is to accomplish through its activities. This is the missing value ingredient for performance measurement in Government.
When there is something to gain, then it also becomes possible to measure the success or failure of the management effort; as it will have something to gain through the organizing and directing of government resources. Until there is something to gain, there can be no intelligent metrics for measuring the Government effort that is to gain it.
Management engineering, built upon a bottom-line approach to performance, has the tools for developing bottom-line metrics for Government. Management engineering has the tools for addressing the performance of the management function that gains bottom-line results. And finally, management engineering has the tools for establishing the contribution of internal management efforts to organizational performance.
The engineering approach starts with recognition of functional customers and functional products. The customer is identified by following incoming resources (as from sale of products) back to a decision-maker who determines to provide those resources because they value what they receive from the organization. The product is then defined by what customers so value that they decide to provide value back to the organization. Customer purchase decisions are the most important measure of value.
The simple beauty of this approach is in its bottom-line definition for organizational success. The organization is a success through delivery of its functional products to its functional customers. This is how it earns what it needs to be a financial/performance success. If any organization fails to deliver value, then its customers will decide to direct their sales to others; and the business fails. This is the logic for establishing the functional products even of a government.
Application to our Government is direct. Follow its incoming resources back to find a decision maker. The resources come from taxpayers, the decision on how much they are willing to put into government is made by government leaders in their representative capacity.
While taxes are also collected from other non-citizens, they are collected uniformly, and the corporate taxpayer is able to pass the cost of taxation back to its customers. Even corporate income tax gets paid from the earnings of the taxpaying public. The public is the functional customer!
Next, we need to address the product. The engineered logic is again appropriate. The question to answer is what these customers will so value that they would pay for the operation of the Government. The “business of government” will then be defined as delivery of these functional products to public customers.
What is it that Government offers that the customer-taxpayer will so value that they would choose to pay the price asked for it?
This is the question that modern political leaders fear most. It is a question of how well they are doing at delivering the services of Government; and points to evaluation by the voting public to get the answer. And that answer will have little relation to the internal processes that government chooses to use in generating and delivering the value. It goes right to the bottom line and asks the customer to do the evaluation based on what value comes to the customer.
And this is most assuredly not the question that government leaders have been asking themselves; our leaders have been focused on the value that Government produces without regard to how much it costs. Tax dollars are simply taken; and services rendered, a disconnect between cost and value.
With this, we are able to step up and meet the challenge of measuring one aspect of our leader’s performance. The question is how well our leader is representing us in the process of government. Again, the value-generating process is delivery of value to the taxpaying public. The value of representation is making the value decision for those who are represented. How good is the government leader at assuring that the tax-payer funds put into the treasury are used to purchase what the represented tax-paying public will value more highly than the funds expended.
The larger question goes to leadership in general. How successful is entire government been when it comes to delivering what the general public will value? Are the results delivered to the customer greater than the value that the taxpayers would have in the funds that are consumed?
Our Government has values that it is to generate and deliver that are fixed by law, and historically valid. Representation is not its only function – just its leadership function.
Have we become a more prosperous people because of what our Government has done. Have we become healthier? Have our freedoms been increased? Are we safer from domestic and foreign criminal activity and aggression? Have we secured the benefits of liberty? Are we increasing the quality of justice that we receive?
In answering these questions, we are establishing the ultimate report card for our Government. Go back 100 years and do the comparison.
Are we more prosperous? Consider that there was not even a need for income tax at that time. Our Government did not have to put the bite on its citizens to run its operation. Now, something like 30% of everything that the taxpayer earns is flowing into public treasuries. These are now used to purchase such benefits as social security and a potent military. It is used to pay for indigents, children, the aged and others who are unable to pay their own way. We have both cost and benefit.
Still, there is the question of increasing in prosperity; whether there is advancement is highly questionable.
What about public safety? Are we more secure from criminal acts?
The answer here is very different. Go back a century and women could walk the streets in all but the most depressed areas without overly fearing for their safety. People could leave their homes unlocked with only minor concern that opportunists would enter in and steal what they had. Our police were feared by the criminal, and not stoned by crowds of citizens who more fear the police than the criminals.
What about justice? Do we receive it; and has it been improved?
The answer is a resounding no! More than ever, the justice system favors those who hire the best (most expensive) attorneys. The public is not even considered as a party in interest in the application of our public justice systems. Focus is on the rights of the accused and regulating the privileges of prosecution. The courts measure themselves based on fulfilling the processes of justice with only secondary concern for services delivered to the public.
The justice system delivers value to the judges and attorneys, applications to those who are accused; and the bill gets passed to the public. It is unconcerned with public service. While it was pretty much this way a century ago, it has not improved its ability to provide the public anything.
And how about public education?
The answer is a resounding no! A hundred years ago, public education through high-school included subjects that are now only taught on the college campus. The children came out with education on the value of being a citizen of this nation; and they learned in an environment where the purpose was promotion of ability.
What we have is a substantial loss of education in terms of what students are learning. This takes place in an environment that is hostile to our national norms, and one that encourages despise of our government. The children come out hostile to, and suspicious of, their nation.
This change is so nasty that even our public schools are suffering from the anti-American hatred that they teach as politically-correct indoctrination. The violence and hatred involved in this boils over to the students; and it is even becoming unsafe for our children to enter into this environment. To enforce this education, the government has had to seize upon some children, taking them into public custody and separating them from their taxpaying parents.
The delivery of value has dropped significantly.
And finally, is government better representing the people?
The hundred-year answer is uncertain. Value of representation is determined by those who are represented, not by the specific actions taken, or directions for application. With this understanding, we have no reason to address change in value. We must technically assume that it is unchanged.
There are still some troubling behaviors in our representative leaders – especially when they seem to vote more along party lines than in reference the public they represent. This might have been every bit as much an issue a century ago; but it is still troubling when the purpose is to represent people rather than party philosophies.
Public Prosperity – no clear and measurable improvement
Public Safety – severe degradation of service
Public Justice – very-poor service remains unimproved
Public Education – severe degradation of service
Public Representation – questionable service - no obvious improvement
The bottom-line approach is very hard on our Government and its leaders. They are the ones who represent us in all of these key government service areas. I would have to give the larger system a failing grade. Over the past century, value delivery has dwindled.
Recognizing a century of failing Government management is not that much of a challenge. The value of local representation may be for the individual citizen to measure; but reduction in the value of overall public service is obvious.
As has been noted in our popular press, the country is indeed moving in the wrong direction. It just has nothing to do with whether or not we are in some foreign conflict, or whether some one law is passed instead of another. The whole government has been operating in a direction of failure for at least 100 years, and we are paying the price as a people. The minor successes claimed by political leaders are little more than a distraction. The failure is there is spite of what our leaders have been doing; or more disturbingly, because of what they have been doing.
Change in direction will not be accomplished by any change in administration, or by some miraculous leader’s individual activities. Government will only be addressed for change when the measures are in place, and our government leaders are held to account for the impact they make upon these bottom line metrics. The metrics that count are the value delivered to the public and the cost of delivering it.
The leader metrics are of two types. There are the personal representation metrics that were addressed above. There are also value metrics based on a contribution to what government is supposed to accomplish for its customer-citizens.
One early consideration is the value of specific leadership actions and leader performance by individuals, and these are only meaningfully measured by the public based on the value achieved relative to the cost.
Are these figures available? The answer to this question must go to both the cost to the Treasury and the cost incurred by members of the public outside of taxation. If this cost information is not made available, then our leaders are either flying blind (ignorance of the effect of their own decisions) or are operating in secret – showing a lack of representation. Any consistent mandate for publishing those figures will have to be honored to prevent the “secret-government” accusation.
Note that the security shield, often invoked by modern government, can be swept aside by going to bottom line values. There must still be something valuable to accomplish; and there must still be a cost. As value is determined by the public, and funds are gathered from the public, Neither of these needs to be kept secret – only the process used to gain the result needs to be secured from the public. If there is no valuable result to be gained (as is now common) then expending to gain it will finally be seen for what it really is, intentional wastage.
Publication of these metrics will put the public in the position of being able to evaluate performance of the government in general, and of each public official as a performer, and of each public act in relation to what it accomplishes for the expenditures incurred.