State of the Union

State_of_The_Union_2015This week, President Obama fulfilled his constitutional duty to report to Congress on the State of the Union. I thought I would mark the occasion with a report on the state of my firm, Public Works.  We’re starting some exciting new work in 2015 – in education, in health policy, in human services, and in government reinvention:

– A year-long review of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services

– Helping Broward County (Ft. Lauderdale), Florida, in implementing the results of the countywide community needs assessment in human services we helped conduct in 2014.

– Conducting education performance reviews of school districts across South Carolina.

– Assisting with the transfer of Louisiana’s Child Care Development Fund supporting early childhood education.

– Streamlining inspection and permitting processes in the City of Chicago.

More important than the individual pieces, however, is the overall direction we think government is headed in the 21st Century – and how we think these all inter-relate.

Given the substantive and financial challenges facing the public sector today at every level and across the country, there is an increasing need for not just efficiency but also for creativity in imagining and delivering government services.  The greatest need is for re-imagining the delivery of the human service systems – anything where governments do not simply enact and enforce rules, but actually directly service human beings, whether in social service, health, mental health, long-term care, correctional, or educational settings – that comprise two-thirds to three-quarters of government budgets. 

All significant improvements in public policy in the coming decade – changes that will make life better for millions of Americans, and improve government service provision – will encompass not just better policy but also budget savings. Conversely, the best way to achieve savings in the years ahead is not through mindless cuts but through positive policy improvements.  

We’re aiming to offer a single coherent and comprehensive approach to all areas of government that both represents the best public policy – i.e., the most improvement in the lives of average Americans – and realizes the most, and most-sustainable, budget savings.  Budget savings and best outcomes are inextricably interlinked – in the future, our politics need to make that linkage explicit.   

As always, I’d love your comments and feedback.

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