Restructuring WashingtonPermalink +
Thu, Oct 29, 2009, 9:00 pm // Craig Mayberry
One of the problems of large bureaucracies (whether business or government) is the stove pipe organizations they have that limit innovation, communication, and the ability to solve complex problems. The other problem Rice articulated was about where power is held and how an organization will hold on to power, even if results are better when they give it up. He repeated a conversation he'd had with a federal cabinet member who, when presented with a new way of organizing, in effect stated, it is my budget and I am going to keep it. Senior executives (again in business and government) will make decisions based on their own personal power and preferences, and go against the greater good. He also told the story of Washington State legislators who would not cede control over their transportation budget to let regional governments solve transportation issues. In both instances, protecting their turf was more important than solving problems.
Washington State has a stove pipe organization, pictured in image 1. This style of organization takes critical government functions and creates silos which limit the ability to solve complex problems that cross organizations. Occasionally the state government will try to cross silos to solve issues, for instance, the Puget Sound Partnership. But overall the state government will never solve critical issues like the environment, education, poverty and job creation, simply because they do not have an organizational structure that will allow resources, both financial and human, to be directed so as to solve them.
Fundamentally, the government has three primary responsibilities. The first is children and making sure they are not only ready to learn, but that by the time they are 18, they have a solid education and life skills that will allow them to get jobs. Ensuring children are ready to learn is not the only function of local school districts, they must also concern themselves with things like poverty levels, parental support (or other appropriate mentorship), and health care access. We expect school districts to make sure children are ready to learn, but they do not have the financial resources to deal with all the issues that might hinder a child’s readiness. Image 2 shows a new organizational structure to give school districts the primary responsibility for readiness to learn and then gives them access to all the state's resources to help them in that effort.
The second responsibility of government is economic vitality. Jobs must be available and businesses must be able to function so they can create new jobs. Again, the current structure forces businesses to deal with all sorts of departments, each working against each other to promote economic vitality. Aligning all those functions, like Labor and Industries, Ecology, Commerce, higher education, and Agriculture and Transportation, allows the state to work with businesses to make sure they have both the resources and ability to successfully create good-paying jobs as well as people ready to fill them.
The last responsibility is livability, which is the community aspect of our state. Individuals need workable housing, health care, transportation, etc. to have a good quality of life. The livability portion of the state's responsibility should be controlled by local governments and state resources should be directed by local government as a way to help them be more successful. This is another instance where power would be better served at the local level instead of the state level. Norman Rice mentioned his idea of giving neighborhood organizations more power and authority in the budgeting process and having more say over police, parks, etc. This could be equivalent at the state level where taxes may be levied, but the state should not control how they are spent, that is left to local governments.
Certainly there are issues to be worked out, most notably to have some organizations with responsibilities in multiple areas (like transportation and social services), but those functions can easily be divided to provide necessary focus, and then cross-coordinated where needed. This also requires politicians and government bureaucrats to give up their kingdoms for the good of society. Considering they continually ask citizens to make sacrifices for the common good, maybe some politicians can follow their own advise and give up their turf to those who could better serve the citizens.
We can talk all we want about government funding and increasing the amounts for education, poverty, transportation, etc., but we will be talking until we are all dead and nothing will change because the funding level is not the problem; the structure is. Fix the organizational systems and then you can fix the problems. This is change we can really believe in.
Thu, Oct 29, 2009, 9:00 pm // Craig MayberryAt the Bellingham City Club on Wednesday, Norman Rice, the former mayor of Seattle, spoke about public process. It was an enlightening conversation for all that were…
2 comments; last on Oct 30, 2009
Thu, Oct 29, 2009, 7:46 pm // Craig MayberryThere is a lot of discussion about this time every year on hit pieces and negative campaigning. So now I have to ask the question: What is the…
14 comments; last on Nov 02, 2009
Wed, Oct 28, 2009, 9:00 am // Ham HayesWe are looking at the all but certain demise of printed newspapers, and the conversion of TV and cable news into entertainment. Our last, best hope for getting…
Tue, Oct 27, 2009, 1:20 pm // Tip JohnsonThis is probably old news to Responsible Development advocates, but just in case, here's a little heads up on TIm Stewart. He appears to have experience with developments…
3 comments; last on Oct 28, 2009
Mon, Oct 26, 2009, 12:02 pm // Larry HorowitzProfessional journalist and local resident, Bob Simmons, has published an article entitled Horizon Bank and the fate of Fairhaven Highlands on the Seattle-based Crosscut.com3 comments; last on Oct 29, 2009
Fri, Oct 23, 2009, 4:11 pm // Larry HorowitzA public hearing on the Fairhaven Highlands Draft EIS was held on Tuesday, October 20 at the County Council Chambers. Approximately 250 to 300 were in attendance.
1 comments; last on Oct 30, 2009
Fri, Oct 23, 2009, 1:46 am // John ServaisI usually post these election recommendations late in the game so as to have the best confidence about the candidates. It is time. These do not reflect the…
11 comments; last on Oct 28, 2009
Wed, Oct 21, 2009, 6:56 pm // John ServaisYes, this is real. It is the organizational plan at work during this election to put four conservative candidates on the Whatcom County Council. That gift of $20,000…
15 comments; last on Nov 01, 2009
Wed, Oct 21, 2009, 9:00 am // Ham HayesCompassion: We get it, and then we don’t get it. Merriam-Webster defines compassion as the “sympathetic consciousness of others' distress together with a desire to alleviate it.
Tue, Oct 20, 2009, 4:39 pm // John ServaisPublic comment on the Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Fairhaven Highlands is tonight, Tuesday, October 20 at 6 pm at the Whatcom County Courthouse.
1 comments; last on Oct 20, 2009
Mon, Oct 19, 2009, 6:20 pm // John ServaisAs most of us political junkies know, there are many many ways to get around the Public Disclosure Commission and its complex set of campaign reporting rules. Indeed,…
3 comments; last on Oct 28, 2009
Sun, Oct 18, 2009, 10:58 am // Larry HorowitzNo confidence. That’s right. NO CONFIDENCE! I have no confidence in the Fairhaven Highlands EIS… and neither should you.
And it’s not for the obvious reasons. Sure,
4 comments; last on Oct 19, 2009
Wed, Oct 14, 2009, 9:00 am // Ham HayesIt is time to change the guard at the Port Commission. Our two incumbents running for re-election just don’t get it. Commissioners Walker and Smith have been in…
1 comments; last on Oct 16, 2009
Sat, Oct 10, 2009, 9:00 am // Kamalla Rose KaurDr. Linda Allen takes the long way home to Bellingham once again as she tours the nooks and crannies of Washington State in 2010 with a multi-media presentation…
Wed, Oct 07, 2009, 9:00 am // Ham HayesHealthcare and other socio-political dueling monologues are beginning to wear thin. Not because the topics aren’t worthy of our consideration. Far from it. What is discouraging is how
3 comments; last on Oct 29, 2009
Sat, Oct 03, 2009, 9:00 am // Ken Wilcox[This is an updated and abridged version of an article published earlier this year in The Wild Cascades, journal of the North Cascades Conservation Council]
Controversy is still stewi
1 comments; last on Oct 04, 2009
Thu, Oct 01, 2009, 5:20 pm // Larry HorowitzIf you are interested in saving Chuckanut Ridge, there is some glimmer of hope for preserving this ecologically-rich and environmentally-sensitive property. If you are willing to make a…
3 comments; last on Oct 04, 2009
Thu, Oct 01, 2009, 2:04 am // John ServaisWhat a comfort. I can sit at my computer, watch the forum in a small TV window while I type this column in another - all at the…
6 comments; last on Oct 01, 2009
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