A Reflection Paper on Revitalizing the Federal Government for the 21st Century
This is a reflection paper on the recommendations proposed in the Revitalizing the Federal Government for the 21st century report by the National Commission on the Public Service (Volcker Commission). The Volcker commission, comprised of members from the three major political parties, recognizes the importance of disciplined policy direction, operational flexibility, and clear and high performance standards as guiding objectives (The National Commission on the Public Service [NCPS], 2003) for an organizational restructuring within the federal government to meet the challenges of the 21st century. This author agrees with the commission in that no such undertaken has occurred since the Hoover Commission some 50 years ago. It articulates in my view a comprehensive plan to reclaim the dignity once associated with public service, and if effectively utilized could re-establish trust between the American public and its government. The decline in confidence shared by many Americans in the capability of federal personnel to carry out the tasks of public service must be addressed. The National Commission on the Public Service (Volcker Commission) recognized this need and published a 2003 report on the public service sector titled Urgent Business for America: Revitalizing the Federal Government for the 21st Century. The report, a collective collaboration between veteran government employees, drew upon their knowledge and the expertise of outside sources from every political affiliation to address challenges that plague the civil service sector in the 21st century. The members of the commission focused on seven key areas which are: the relationship between the government and the American public, organizational disorder, one size fits all management, vanishing talent, personnel systems, and labor-management conflict (NCPS, 2003). This author considers trust as the main component of any relationship and agrees with the commission that the distrust between the American people and the government is contributing to the decay of public service. The commission realized that that the policy changes need to combat the problems associated with public service in the 21st century will take a collaborative effort between the citizens of American and government. I agree with the commission that there is no “quick fix” that the government shares the blame for the negative perception, and must make every effort possible to regain that trust by sufficiently improving its performance. The organizational structure within the civil service sector was another focal point in the commissions’ report. The members recommended that “the federal government should be reorganized into a limited number of mission-related executive departments” (NCPS, 2003, p.14). The commission points out that most public servants are perplexed as to the application and significance of their agency’s undertaking and more often than not departments share responsibilities that could be combined to form one cohesive unit. For example, I found it very disturbing that as many as 12 different agencies share the responsibility of administering over 35 food safety laws (NCPS, 2003). The disarray with organizational structure also presents the problem of effectively managing the mission of these individual agencies. The commission notes that nine agencies operate 27 teen pregnancy programs come back to. It is my opinion that the solution given by the commission to group related missions under the same organizational structure would enhance employees’ sense of purpose and loyalty, provide opportunities for advancement and reduce waste of limited resources (NCPS, 2003). One size doe not fit all; this entire “cookie cutter” approach to agency structure and management practices is no longer viable. The needs of the American public are far more complex and vary significantly than those confronted...
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