Public Management II

Public Management-The Bush Administration II by Paul Soglin:

Since that time, John Hunter posted a comment in reference to W. Edwards Deming:

Newt Gingrich is also a supporter of Deming’s ideas: “I’m a disciple of Edwards Deming. I really believe in a culture and system of quality.”

Any time I find myself in the company of Newt Gingrich, I become a little concerned, especially since he tends to bounce around and not ‘drill down’ to learn how things work. In addition, I don’t accept all of Deming’s teachings as universal truth. If anything I am more a student of Peter Scholtes, a Deming student who wrote the invaluable The Leader’s Handbook: Making Things Happen, Getting Things Done

Paul Soglin also stated:

Deming did not have an appreciation for the democratic nature of government, and did not acknowledge that the kind of decision making that takes place in the public sector may have both legal and ethical requirements to slow down the advance of ‘quality.’

My response to his post:

Actually Deming did acknowledge that the United States government was not designed to be as efficient as possible. From page 198 of Out of the CrisisGovernment service is to be judged on equity as well as on efficiency.” He then quotes Oscar Ornati “We have forgotten that the function of government is more equity oriented than efficiency oriented.”

Deming did not focus on the nature of government extensively, but my recollection is that he acknowledged the wisdom of the American style of government (with checks and balances and fairly complex process for creating legislation) even though parts of that system intentionally makes change difficult. My recollection is that he understood the wisdom in designing the system in this way to optimize long term benefits to the whole society, even though that creates sub optimization of certain aspects of the system.

I would be especially interested in comments from those who worked with Deming on their thoughts on his belief about the proper role of government and the balance between efficiency and equity (or other factors).

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