Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Mismanagement and Agency Culture

NASCOE (National Association of County Office Employees) is the organization for Farm Service Agency employees. I occasionally look at their web site. Today I skimmed some of the items that employees submitted for "negotiation" (i.e., the back and forth process that NASCOE reps conduct with FSA management. Several related to problems with current IT systems, both design and operation. Some made me shudder, because it seems as if the agency has repeated some of the same mistakes it (i.e., "we", i.e. "I") made back in 1985. Specifically, the "stovepipe" design of systems where the operator in the county office is forced to do extra work instead of having the system do it.

The problem at agriculture was that people lacked the background, mission, and authority to look across the board at what was happening in different offices and different programs and direct a rational approach to problems. This statement is true everywhere you look in government, whether it's the military or law enforcement. (Look at the recent news of the problems the wireless communication system that is to be shared by DHS, DOJ, and Treasury.)

I don't have any solutions. I wonder whether big corporations are any better at this. (My impression of GE is that separate units operate pretty separately.)

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