I am now approaching five months since I retired, and I can’t believe that this is my fourth Speak Up for Good Government newsletter.
As mentioned last month, this month’s newsletter will be much more abbreviated than previous months. I just returned from an 18 day, 5000 mile vacation, spanning 10 states and 5 national parks. This month’s newsletter will not be a travelogue, but the travel, going through urban and rural areas and red and blue states did inform this month’s email. More on that to follow…
Although much of the month was spent traveling. I was able to complete one key Good Government activity. In last month’s newsletter, I mentioned my interactions with Issue One. Recapping from last month’s email, Issue One bills itself as the leading cross-partisan political reform group in Washington, D.C. They are working to “unite Republicans, Democrats, and independents in the movement to fix our broken political system and build a democracy that works for everyone.” I encourage all Speak Up for Good Government subscribers to review and sign their declaration.
Issue One’s Fix Congress Cohort Coordinator, made me aware of an upcoming hearing of the Select Committee on the Modernization of Congress on “Improving the Lawmaking Process & Evidence Based Legislating”. The purpose of the hearing is to discuss the need for impartial scientific/technology analysis in Congress, and potentially reestablishing an office to provide members, committees, and staff with analysis of complicated scientific and technological issues. With much appreciated guidance from Issue One’s Fix Congress Cohort Coordinator, I have submitted written testimony for this hearing to the Select Committee. Unfortunately, I found out late yesterday that this hearing has been cancelled with a potential reschedule date in October. There are currently no future hearings or virtual discussions listed on the Select Committee’s website. I have followed up with the Capitol Hill staff member that I sent my testimony to.
“Data-driven” legislation would be a very positive step. My testimony recommended that the committee broaden the scope to incorporate Quality Improvement methodology to improve the lawmaking process. I recommended establishing a Congressional Office of Quality and Process Improvement that would provide analysis to members of Congress and their staff and utilize Quality tools to produce world class legislation. I suggested that the office could focus on both the quality of the legislative process and on supporting the development of optimum legislation through data analysis, benchmarking (other industries, best practices in states and municipalities), process design and documentation, and development of success metrics. I will provide an update next month and will likely post my testimony on the Speak Up for Good Government website.
As I continue this journey and refine my work and role, I’ll be closely watching the work of Issue One and a new initiative that Issue One is helping to launch on July 1: The Partnership for American Democracy. If Speak Up’s Good Government Principles are largely included in the work of Issue One and/or The Partnership for American Democracy, my time might be better spent supporting their work rather than continuing as an “independent entity”. Over the next month, I will be attending the launch event for The Partnership for American Democracy, reviewing Speak Up’s Basic Principles, and reaching out to other organizations such as Voice of the People and the American Society for Quality’s Government Division. At minimum, I can leverage my expertise to advocate for a viable and over-arching plan and strategy for meaningful and measurable improvements in government effectiveness and accountability.
As implied in the second paragraph above, my time on the road offered me ample opportunity to reflect on the Good Government journey and how the perceptions and expectations of our federal government likely vary depending on region of the country, personal circumstances, etc. My assumption is that a strong perception of people living in a remote/rural area of South Dakota or Montana is that Washington D.C. is completely out of touch with the needs in those areas, and that they get very little benefit from the federal government. That assumption led me to do some research on allocation of federal dollars and the net flow of money to and from the federal government. The results actually fly in the face of a narrative that shaped some of the discussion around COVID-19 relief money. The "Balance of Payments Portal" compiled by the Rockefeller Institute of Government provides some surprising results regarding the states that receive more federal aid than what they pay in tax revenue. Take a look and judge for yourself.
In the queue for future months:
Refinement and further articulation of the basic principles that can be found on my web site
Review and update on timeline and objectives
Further exploration of metrics and a possible survey
Discussion and investigation of legislative and government processes
Take care and have a great month!