While Washington continues to bicker over what to do about our HUGE deficit, the deficit continues to grow. Most of the dialogue focuses around what we need to cut or fund. Seldom to you hear ideas on how we can improve the efficiency of our government agencies in order to save money. We can’t just keep cutting. We need to strengthen our military, save our cities, improve education and fund much needed programs such as child care assistance. So where is the money going to come from?
The 2015 U.S. Government discretionary spending chart indicates spending of $1.11 Trillion. If the U.S. government implemented process improvements and efficiency in the areas of discretionary spending, they could reduce cost. Finding just 5% in cost efficiency would amount to $55 billion a year. And given the extent of inefficiency in the government, we should be able to save 4 times more than that. So how do we do it? The same way that corporations across this country have done it over the past 20 years. They implement process improvement methodologies that eliminate waste, streamline processes, improve quality of service and at the same time reduce cost.
It’s time for our federal government to follow the example of hundreds of corporations and implement an improvement initiative to reduce cost and improve service. We should start with improving the medical care provided to our veterans. The many doctors and medical staff that tend to our veterans want to provide them with the best possible care. Poor processes and administrative burden frequently gets in the way. This is just one of many examples where we can simplify processes, drive out administrative burden and bureaucracy and get on with the business of providing quality service when needed.
Some of you may be wondering how improving processes can save money? A good process gets things done right the first time, eliminates waste and rework, simplifies steps and cuts out unnecessary or non-value added reviews, signatures and paperwork. Good processes also make sure bills are paid on time to avoid late fees and that checks and balances are in place to eliminate fraud and misuse. Given the current condition of federal agencies, saving hundreds of billions of dollars by improving processes is very achievable.
So why hasn’t the government done this already? My guess is that our Washington talent pool is focused on legislating, introducing new programs and advocating for their constituents. Many are lawyers, politicians and communicators but have not had the opportunity to learn process improvement tools and methods. Systems thinking and process improvement is a skill. Based on current performance of government agencies, it would seem that it is a skill that we desperately need.
I’ve led business transformation in a major corporation and in small organizational units and have been eye witness to the results. It is real. Agencies in the federal government could greatly benefit from a process improvement initiative that provides employees with process improvement skills and engages them in building efficient and effective processes. It’s time to stop government waste and eliminate the bureaucracy that drives cost through the roof while providing substandard service. Trump is a business man. He gets this stuff. He will surely serve our country well by implementing efficient business practices in our government agencies.