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Friday, April 22, 2016

LET'S GET DOWN TO BRASS TACKS

In regard to Bernie Sanders the Revolutionary and Hillary Clinton the Reformist Frontrunner:
let’s get down to brass tacks and become more pragmatic.  How do you incorporate a revolution (or progressive reform) into a status quo establishment bureaucracy?

How do you avoid serving the interests of the 1% when immediately upon taking the oath of office and being declared the newly sworn-in President, you become part of the establishment; part of an Executive Branch that is already captured by the Plutocracy; beholden in many ways to the Special Interests that have infiltrated the bureaucracy from top to bottom?  Pragmatically, how will either Bernie or Hillary begin to overcome that influence on the first day in office?  My answer: start change happening before inauguration and sign orders for certain changes on the very first day, followed by more in the first 100 days.

As usual, I have a few suggestions.
1)      Issue an Executive Order denying access to any Executive Branch member by registered lobbyists;
-Require reporting by employees of any contacts made that call for special consideration or privilege for themselves or for a client
-Require the public reporting of all contacts that have reference to the writing of regulations
-Institute policy that no regulations may be published without full disclosure (public listing) of the persons and entities who had any input to the construction or promulgation of those regulations;
2)    All regulations or policies issued must contain an explanation of how persons most directly affected by such had access to the process of development, and what consequences the proposals will have upon those affected constituencies.  All legislation should have the same requirements.  We must listen less to Special Interests and more to citizens actually affected.
3)      Initiate a review by Department and Office managers of all political appointments made by prior Presidents.  Those who oppose the major policies and directions of the new administration should be given the opportunity to work elsewhere.  All should be provided a listing of goals and objectives and directions of the new administration and given a chance to state how they see themselves contributing to those objectives. Agency managers will need to determine what appropriate measures can be taken within federal law and policy in regard to those who will not or cannot support the objectives of the new administration.
4)      Require a Consumer Advisory Council in every Department, composed of ordinary citizens, who will have the right and the obligation to comment upon the policies, practices, budget, and operation of every agency and administrator within those departments
5)      Name at least 2 progressive citizen advocates to every Inspector General’s office to be a part of the operations of that office.  Spell out their duties and include information about this in employee training.
6)      Require training within first 3 months for every member of every agency relevant to:
                --Team functioning and shared leadership – incorporate citizen volunteers into this
                --Problem solving techniques, including a practical application
                --Consumer advocacy touted and outlined as to requirements
                --Effective constituency service stressed
                --Requirements, both practical and philosophical, of the current administration
                --Teach the basics of reform and revolution; examine what makes change happen
                              --Develop input to each agency’s Mission and Purpose statements
   --Have each employee/trainee develop individualized personal goals related to       Administration’s overall Mission and Purpose statements and those of the agency in which they work
7)      Require a Mission and Purpose statement for every department and agency with input from at least 50% of the employees of those offices. Each Statement must indicate how they coincide with the Mission and Purpose of the new Administration
8)      The new President should meet with every Department to lay out the Mission and objectives of the new Administration and to rally the personnel to new heights of consumer and constituent awareness, service and advocacy.  These visits should happen annually, but the first year is crucial.
9)      Name the citizen appointees to each advisory council and to the Office of Inspector General; make clear the duties and boundaries of citizen volunteers
10)    Require new Department Heads or their Deputies to meet with their Citizen Advisory Council at least quarterly; establish ways to meet more often through electronic means
11)   The citizen advocates must be given access to the Office of the President – spell this out
12)   Have every department immediately initiate review of outside contracts with input of citizens in Inspector General offices to that process; publicize those contracts that are terminated or substantially revised
13)   Require an evaluation process to be undertaken within every department and agency. Utilize training sessions to aid in development of guidelines for such an evaluation process. 
14)   Evaluation of practices is key to effective change and adjustment.  It must be instituted at least yearly in every Department and participated in by the citizen advocates. The process should include, at least:
§  Evaluation of operations related to goals and objectives that stem from Mission and Purpose; what is the agency doing well; where can improvements be made; what new goals and objectives are needed?
§  Evaluation and audit of spending and of the budget: was it effective and efficient?  How well does the budget reflect and relate to the goals and objectives, Mission & Purpose? What can be cut back, enhanced, made more relevant to the Mission; what needs to change? What needs to be increased; what new goals and objectives are suggested by this review?
§  Evaluate the impact on consumers; invite consumers in to be part of the evaluation; find out how consumers/customers feel about activities, services, personnel responsiveness, effect of programs/services on their lives.
§  A final report of the evaluation in each agency must be made available to the White House within a reasonable time, and the responsible White House staff must respond with comments and recommendations within 3 months from receipt.
Impractical?  Impossible?  Unworkable?  Wasteful?   These words are NOT RELEVANT.  All of the above are necessary activities and practical measures that have been neglected over the years.  They are proven methods of operation that should have been instituted and nurtured instead of being ignored, or met by indifference and apathy.  After years of such negative approaches, undue influence by those opposed, and by misplaced and inadequate customer service, the road back seems impossible, but is not.  There are plenty of accomplished and competent trainers available for teaching such practical tasks and techniques.
CHANGE is hard, but if never instituted, it gets harder.  And, you will never see real change until there are trained and valued “change agents” in the Executive Branch of Government (and in the Congress as well).  We must allow our federal employees to suggest, implement, grow and nurture big broad practical ideas and actions or we will be left with the same old philosophy – ‘don’t rock the boat’, ‘don’t muddy the waters’, ‘don’t say anything, just do your job.’  We must be willing to allow and encourage revolutionary or reformist thinking and attitudes because the Status Quo is simply easy to maintain without interruption.  However, status quo thinking is also the path to calcification and unresponsiveness to principles and to constituencies; to consumer rights, needs and requirements.
Revolution or radical reform are far more difficult to effect if one does not start right away to get at the root motivations, attitudes and objectives of those charged with the everyday work of an organization.  It is the status quo and “daily grind” that stand in the way of meaningful progress toward fundamental change.
So, here’s one more practical thought:  why not consider naming a Vice-presidential candidate with this whole scheme in mind?  In other words, bring on a Vice President with expertise in making the bureaucracy work, not only day-to-day, but with an attitude that each person can and should make a revolutionary difference in how government operates.  (How about Cory Booker? Or Elizabeth Warren? Or, Julian Castro, current Secretary of HUD and former mayor of San Antonio?)
The Executive Branch of our government cannot be a revolutionary or actively progressive Vanguard unless there is a clear understanding of what that means for each employee individually, and for all of them collectively.  I personally would like to hear more about practical, pragmatic steps that will be taken by Bernie or Hillary to bring about fundamental change when one of them takes possession of the Oval Office.   How about you?   

[Want to read some more practical, pragmatic suggestions for governmental action, try some postings like:   6/20/2010, 2/20/2011, 2/3/2013, 4/14/2013, 3/23/2014, 5/26/2014, 7/21/2014, 10/13/2015, 10/18/2015 and 2/8/2016]