So, the big question of course is–why? Why do citizens expect and demand so little accountability for the poor use of resources in government? Why do so few leaders charged with leading countries, states, provinces, and cities require improved performance?
Like Paul there is no doubt of the direct applicability of quality concepts, techniques, and tools to assure improved performance in the public sector. Government agencies have found that Lean methods enable them to better understand how their processes work, to quickly identify and implement improvements, and to build a culture of continuous improvement.
Numerous government agencies, ranging from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the States of Iowa and Minnesota, are using Lean to improve the quality, transparency, and speed of government processes. Lean government proponents generally believe that the government should cut out "waste" and "inefficiency" from government organizations, which will result in overall better services and more value for tax-supported programs and services. Proponents also generally see Lean government as a means to expand the capacity of government to provide more services per unit of investment.
Yet the adoption rate versus the opportunity is remarkably low. I believe this is because quality improvement and politics don't mix very well. It’s not that I don't believe they can't mix, only that they don't mix very well. Politics in America is very short-sighted-a year, two years at the most, is all good politicians will invest before they expect a "pay-off." Simply speaking, a quality improvement effort won't pay off in such short time periods.
Government executives generally don't care about operations. Most elected officials and government executives didn't join government to manage. Instead, they are driven by a deep desire to advance a cause, a policy issue or a political agenda. They get excited about bold new programs and solving big problems
Another point is that considering a citizen as a customer is not always correct. Citizens are customers sometimes, but often they are subjects, voters, taxpayers, and users. When a parking guard or a policeman gives you a bill for incorrectly parking your car. Are you his customer? Are you in the position to say no and go to a competitor?
The nature of government has been to maintain the status quo. The trouble with this is that it leaves no opportunity for growth and improvement.
The irony is that good politicians must start doing this for our future. In the short term, quality should be implemented because it is the right thing to do. Quality improvement cannot be viewed as a particular politicians "program." If it is, it will last only the tenure of that politician.
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