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Friday, December 30, 2016

The business of government

I've taken the following article and sliced and diced it to my own editorial fancy, to make particular points about procurement, as is my wont in this blawg. So, if you really want to know the article's author's intent, read it at the title link.

Go on. Click the link and read it from the horse's mouth; some may view it as thought provoking. I did.  My convoluted version follows the link and hopefully does not too much damage to the author's intentPay attention to my identified tags/labels (in the head of this blawg) to put this post in my context.

Thinking about the business of government, By CHRIS DISHMAN, a Ph.D. candidate in public affairs at the University of Texas at Dallas, who wrote it for the Dallas Morning News.
Total spending for the executive branch, known as “discretionary funding,” amounts to 30 percent of all U.S. spending. “Mandatory spending” accounted for 70 percent of total government spending in 2016.

The Department of Defense accounts for half of “discretionary” spending, so agencies like Commerce, Energy, Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs make up 15 percent of total spending. If Congress eliminated the Department of Energy, for instance, the government would save $28 billion annually, which is roughly equivalent to the cost of two new CVN-class aircraft carriers.

Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security and interest on the debt make up the bulk of “mandatory” spending, together with other “entitlements”, social as well as corporate.

The executive branch is the same size as it was in the 1970s, despite the increasing number of laws and regulations passed by Congress. The government remains at 2.1 million people or less.

The government’s workload has skyrocketed, as measured by the amount of spending per government employee, yet neither Congress nor any executive will support additional resources to implement the rules and regulations they advocate. The result of this dilemma is that government contracts out many of its duties to the private sector. And this forces government managers to shift existing resources — those used to undertake other governmental duties — to “manage” those contracts.

The government is paying big dollars to companies to undertake governmental missions. Why? Because it is politically palatable. Mandatory spending must be addressed to balance the budget, but politicians know that threatening a reduction in these programs is electoral suicide. Do you wonder why lobbyists like this approach?

There are fundamental differences between business and government.

Constitutional values, not corporate law and profit, guide the public sector. Ideally, government serves public interests while protecting the competing values that underpin those interests.

The private sector, in contrast, is governed by corporate law and profit, and business executives are, in the main, disinterested in anyone who cannot support that goal.

These differences do not mean that government cannot learn from the private sector. But we should remember that the republic’s founders intended the structure and processes of government to reflect constitutional values, not those of free enterprise.

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