Public Speaks: Make Government Work Better

It’s a little too easy to take potshots at Washington these days. But even though the headline on a story I saw stated, "Poll: Some feds are overpaid and underworked," it’s not really an indictment of the individuals working for federal agencies.

It’s more of a "fix the darn system, train the people we have and give them the tools to do the job effectively" message. Just as has been the message with local government reform in Indiana, it’s not knocking the people (or at least most of them) but the bureaucracy that protects the status quo and prevents taxpayer dollars from being used efficiently.

Here are some of the details from the Government Executive article:

A May survey of 2,523 participants conducted by Hart Research Associates found that 67 percent of respondents believed a major source of government waste was due to inefficient federal employees receiving generous benefits or high salaries.

Respondents did not indicate a desire to cut federal pay, but instead expressed support for improved training and recruiting of federal employees to increase government efficiency.

Overall, respondents said they wanted a government that runs better, regardless of size. Sixty-two percent of respondents thought the government’s priority should be to improve efficiency and effectiveness, while 36 percent considered reducing the size of federal government a priority.

"Public lack of confidence in government’s ability to solve problems is more closely related to perceptions of government performance than it is a function of partisan affiliation or political ideology," the authors of the survey said in a statement. Guy Molyneux, a partner at Hart Research; John Whaley, a Hart Research senior analyst; and Ruy Teixeira, senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, conducted the survey.

"They [those polled] are extremely receptive to reform efforts that would eliminate inefficient government programs, implement performance-based policy decisions, and adopt modern management methods and information technologies," the authors said. Forty-five percent of respondents said efforts at improving federal management should begin with holding government more accountable for how it spends money.

While the majority of those polled — 74 percent — believed government could be effective with better management, 23 percent said the government was "bound to be ineffective no matter what."