Respecting Our Civil Servants

Posted by | May 1, 2011 11:04 | Filed under: Top Stories

by Stuart Shapiro

As I’ve said before, David Brooks is a conservative columnist who occasionally writes insightful columns.  Thursday was one of those occasions as he writes about a series of meetings at HUD that he attended.  The meetings involved the Secretary, Shaun Donovan, and a collection of high level civil servants advising the Secretary on housing for veterans (I later found out that one of the attendees was a former student of mine).  Brooks  praises the officials:

The career workers at the meeting were impressive. They made short, highly informed presentations and answered arcane questions about legislative history. They had achieved a herculean task of getting two government agencies to agree on a single data set, a single methodology and a single progress report. . .

The career people treated the political people with almost military deference. The career people often spoke about managing the organizational structures and establishing clear rules for case-workers; Donovan and Gould spoke more about the experience of the veterans on the street and probed for ways to move everything faster:

Debate over whether the government can solve problems like housing for veterans and its interaction with drug abuse by veterans is legitimate and necessary in a democracy.  Demonizing the government workers that implement these policies is neither legitimate nor necessary.  And that is why one suspects that yahoos like Scott Walker and Paul LePage aren’t really interested in improving government, they are just trying to score political points by attacking government workers.

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Copyright 2011 Liberaland
By: Stuart Shapiro

Stuart is a professor and the Director of the Public Policy
program at the Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers
University. He teaches economics and cost-benefit analysis and studies
regulation in the United States at both the federal and state levels.
Prior to coming to Rutgers, Stuart worked for five years at the Office
of Management and Budget in Washington under Presidents Clinton and
George W. Bush.

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