Can the characteristics of a successful organization find a happy home in a large government bureaucracy? Probably not. Can those characteristics be found in a large American federal government bureaucracy? No, not a chance.
Why is that so?
There are two big reasons; many lesser specific reasons. What are the two big reasons?
1. The leader or boss of every large American federal government bureaucracy is a political choice and decision. That person must be approved by politicians not for his/her knowledge of the bureaucracy’s strengths and weaknesses but for her/his ability to get confirmed first and then avoid problems second.
2. The employees of every large American federal government bureaucracy are now unionized and that condition exists solely for the advancement of union rules, protections and purposes which are at odds with the bureaucracy’s purposes if they exist at all.
The two reasons stated so clearly above are connected by this characteristic of politics which will ultimately destroy any organization if the politics of choosing a leader and protecting the employees from consequences of incompetence and ineffectiveness prevail over the mission, if known, of the organization.
Can you provide any backup source or knowledgeable reference to support the reasons described above?
Sure, please read the following:
“All Government employees should realize that the process of collective bargaining, as usually understood, cannot be transplanted into the public service. It has its distinct and insurmountable limitations when applied to public personnel management. The very nature and purposes of Government make it impossible for administrative officials to represent fully or to bind the employer in mutual discussions with Government employee organizations. The employer is the whole people, who speak by means of laws enacted by their representatives in Congress. Accordingly, administrative officials and employees alike are governed and guided, and in many instances restricted, by laws which establish policies, procedures, or rules in personnel matters.”
Okay, but who is the author of that statement?
Franklin D. Roosevelt, president of the United States, 1933-1945.Here is one other commentary that some may find pertinent to the topic at hand – structure and success of large American federal government bureaucracies:
“Certain business leaders may consider "big government" or socialism more of an immediate threat to their interests than communism. Are they allowing themselves to be deluded by their own propaganda to the effect that organized labor in this country is in favor of big government or the nationalization of industry?
Nothing could be further from the truth. The main function of American trade unions is collective bargaining. It is impossible to bargain collectively with the government. Unions, as well as employers, would vastly prefer to have even Government regulation of labor-management relations reduced to a minimum consistent with the protection of the public welfare...”
The source of this statement, please? George Meany, president of the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of unions in the United States, from 1955-1979.
Here is one more statement:
Shinseki Says Pact Shows “Commitment to Collaboration”
March 18, 2011
“This new agreement reflects VA’s commitment to collaborate with an important labor partner,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. “The outcome will be a more highly motivated, more effective workforce serving our Nation’s Veterans.”
About 204,000 of VA’s 315,000 employees are eligible for AFGE membership, with another 23,000 employees eligible for membership in four other unions.
Secretary Shinseki approved the contract on March 15. The complete labor agreement will be signed soon by Shinseki, AFGE leadership and the VA and AFGE members of the bargaining teams at an internal event that will be broadcast at VA facilities around the country.
Among the provisions of the contract are:
· Enhanced collaboration with union officials on work-related issues;
· Expansion of teleworking among employees, including clarification of rules governing telework; and
· Increased reliance upon e-mails and new technology in labor-management communications and processes.
Comment: please note the content of Shinseki’s comments on the contract. Not a word about the mission of the VA – just nonsense about union issues
A closing comment on this topic: almost every difficult situation facing America today can be sourced to a combination of compromises and politics designed to accommodate some group or voting bloc or special interest of some form or another. Leadership usually can find a way to say “no” without destroying the entity in which the conflict occurs. By “no” we simply mean solving the issue at hand without abandoning basic time tested principles – what we call “fundamentals.” Not so in government – the accommodations are now so one-sided as to render the surviving entities unmanageable which simply means any corrective remedy involves doing away with what exists; starting over and following the very fundamentals which were previously discarded. But, as with any solution to any problem, the first step is realization of the problem.
We used to solve problems in America – now we just create them and live with them.