Federal departments can only become more Transparent, Participatory, and Collaborative with outsiders (citizens) unless those same things are adopted INTERNALLY. Those qualities can only show up on the *outside* if they are valued on the *inside*.
However, federal departments do NOT have the internal openness that makes it *safe* for their employees (and those of contractors) to suggest ways to make their organizations "work better and cost less".
Now, you don't have to work for the government to know that it can be dangerous to one's career to suggest to your boss (or your boss's boss) that their office is operating in a "less-than-optimum" way (i.e., that they might be wasting money, and don't even know it.)
However, it is more dangerous for government workers to make such suggestions about "better ways" of doing work because, even if the idea is successful, it is the Public's money that will be seen as having been "wasted" in the past. And so, the employee's manager fears being second-guessed by higher-ups as to why didn't the manager recognize this "better way" earlier? And how is it that this "better way" came from a lower-paid underling?
WATCH THE VIDEO: Here's a very good (satirical) video about "Barriers to Innovation" that, even though produced by a team at NASA, is easily recognized by virtually every federal employee (except the new ones). National Public Radio did a story on it (along with a link to the video)--> www.tinyurl.com/as3son
SOLUTION: There needs to be a ONLINE SYSTEM system that allows government employees to raise ideas AND also protects their true identity. These systems already exist and Fortune 500 companies use them to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act (following the WorldCom and Enron scandals). Anonymity is necessary because most government managers are comfortable with the status-quo and, quite naturally, take actions against those who would imply that current operations are somehow flawed. [BTW: The existing I.G. system is NOT safe.]
Yes, there ARE some enlightened managers in govt. who do encourage innovation and continous improvement, but they are relatively RARE. The vast majority of managers are not so enlightened and, as a result, the average employee is acting VERY rationally when they decide to keep their ideas to themselves!
And, BTW, those average employees will NOT start to act irrationally (by speaking up) just because the White House passes out awards to "champions" whose success is largely due to their blind luck in having an enlightened boss. There is no proof that V.P. Gore's "Golden Hammer" awards during the 1990's made any real change in the C.Y.A. mindset of federal managers.
This idea is important because nothing ever changes for the better until someone first says "Hey, why don't try it this way?" And, because there is always room for improvement in any organization (some more than others), we need to hear ALL the ideas that people have for improvements, ESPECIALLY from those who are the most familiar with the existing operations.
If the President wants to open up the operations of federal departments to allow for better public input and feedback, then he needs to give the "closet-innovators" working WITHIN those departments the same, if not MORE, of the freedom to challenge the status-quo without fear of reprisal.
If the President does NOT make it safe for federal employees to innovate (or to just point out waste), then they will NOT put their jobs on the line for him as "agents of change." If he wants to enlist them, then he must protect them from the enemies of change.
FOR MORE INFO about achieving government transparency (both internally and externally)--> www.UStransparency.com
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