Some of you may have seen this in today’s Parade magazine, but take a look at The Council for Excellence in Government. We do tend to talk about all the failures and inefficiencies of government, but here’s a site that promotes and gives awards for the good side! There are a wide variety of programs supported, such as "evidence-based policy", and numerous types of awards. Among recent award winners are:
- ClinicalTrials.gov: administered by the National Institutes of Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is a pioneering online health care resource serving patients and families facing life-threatening illnesses with vital information about clinical trials.
- Performance Standards for Juvenile Correction and Detention Facilities: administered by the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and developed by the Council of Juvenile Correctional Administrators, collects information from juvenile facilities and tracks injuries, suicidal behaviors, assaults, time in isolation and youth academic performance to make needed improvements.
- In-Q-Tel: As a joint project with the CIA, In-Q-Tel seeks out commercial technologies that could be applicable to the agency’s mission. Functioning like a venture capital fund, In-Q-Tel puts money into firms that have innovative product ideas. Since its creation in 1999, this project has reviewed more than 3,000 business plans and has invested in 40-plus firms.
- Global Hawk – Global Hawk is a high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial reconnaissance system designed to provide military field commanders with high resolution, near-real-time imagery of large geographic areas. Using an innovative “spiral development technique” the Air Force was able to meet key program objectives: make the plane as versatile as possible and get it delivered quickly.
Some parts of the government appear to be taking the journey to excellence seriously. Simpler Consulting has worked with the U.S. Army to create some rather amazing results at various repair depots. Faced with severe budget crunches, some cities are also implementing the same concepts.
There is a huge opportunity. The Citizens Against Government Waste and the Cato Institute both have reported that upwards of 30% of government costs are due to wasteful or ineffective processes (irregardless of whether the program itself is appropriate!). The next time your government asks (if you’re lucky) to raise your taxes, remember it isn’t a zero-sum game. The status quo or even a reduction in taxes does not automatically mean a reduction in services… there is that big operations black box in the middle, often with a lot of built-in wasteful processes.