Washington is Dysfunctional and in Critical Need of an Organizational Effectiveness Makeover

The United States’ Governmental structure and two party system is designed for conflict and compromise. Since the founding of the U.S. in 1776, there have been periods of relative calm and compromise and other periods of extreme dysfunctionality. Many people in the U.S. and internationally feel the U.S. has now reached a new level of dysfunctionality that is worse than ever before. How do you view what has been going on in Washington? Using the following definition of Holistic Organizational Effectiveness, just how effective is the U.S. Government including the Presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court?

  • “Organizational effectiveness is the concept of how effective an organization is in achieving the outcomes the organization intends to produce.”

The U.S. currently has a divided Government with Democrats running the Presidency and Senate and Republicans running the House of Representatives. This is nothing new. For much of our history the U.S. has had divided Government. Democrats and Republicans have always had different ideologies, desired outcomes and approaches for achieving desired outcomes. Fortunately, more often than not, both parties identified common desired outcomes, overcame their differences and compromised to achieve beneficial results for most Americans and for the country overall.

The legislative process is generally messy and inefficient. Sometimes Government over-reacts to problems and controversial issues while at other times it is slow to react, it acts ineffectively or it doesn’t act at all, regardless of the severity of the need to address a problem.

Decisions and legislation are often based more on placating lobbyists and special interests than on doing what is right and best for the country overall. President Eisenhower acknowledged this when he warned about the “military-industrial complex”.  Today, in addition to the military-industrial complex, we should be equally concerned about excessive influence from big business (i.e. energy, financial services, agriculture, etc. and their lobbyists), from very wealthy individuals (e.g.  David and Charles Koch and Nelson Adelson on the “political right” and George Soros on the “political left”),  and from religious, social  and other special-interest groups, all willing to spend tens and hundreds of millions of dollars to elect like-minded candidates and to buy influence.

The 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case gives corporations, labor unions, religious groups, wealthy individuals and other entities the ability to spend unlimited amount of money on behalf of candidates for political offices. This decision has very significantly increased the level of influence-buying and dysfunction in Washington and in each of the States. The Supreme Court and the lower courts are supposed to be objective with decisions made based on interpretation of the law. Unfortunately, this is often not the case. Many Supreme Court cases (and lower court cases as well) are based on interpretations and biases of individuals. The Supreme Court currently has five Republicans and four Democrats and the Court’s decisions often reflect this split.

The only way to make Washington more effective is to educate Americans and to get them to understand what is best for their own and the country’s best interests, in the hope that they will then vote and in fact vote based on their own and the country’s best interests. Unfortunately, many Americans vote for political parties and individuals based on single issues and their own perceptions of these issues (e.g. the economy, religious issues, social issues, national defense issues, healthcare issues, etc.).

Most Americans are ignorant of the issues and have little time or interest in learning enough about the important issues in order to make informed voting decisions that are in their own best interests and the best interests of the country. Instead they listen to and are greatly influenced by television,  radio, religious and other spin-doctors on the political right and left who generate large volumes of misinformation and spin. Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity and the late Reverend Jerry Falwell on the political right are just a few of the highly visible people who have become multi-millionaires by stirring up millions of Americans. There are others on the political left who do this as well.

The aggregate cost of dysfunctionality and ineffective Government has cost Americans and impacted our national debt by trillions of dollars over the entire history of the U.S. Here are two of the most recent examples of incompetence and dysfunctionality in Washington:

  • According to an estimate from Standard & Poor’s, the 16-day Tea Party/Republican led shutdown of the U.S. Government  and almost default of U.S. debt during October, 2013 was very costly. S&P estimates the shutdown, which ended with a late night deal on October 16th after 16  days, took $24 billion out of the U.S. economy, and reduced projected  fourth-quarter GDP growth from 3 percent to 2.4 percent.
  • There are major initial start-up problems with the Federal and some of the State websites for enrolling in health insurance under the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care). This is the single most important legislation of the Obama administration. How is it possible that they have done such a poor job of planning and implementing the websites and underlying software needed to enroll millions of Americans in new health insurance programs? (http://www.cnbc.com/id/101124856)

Key questions:

  1. How might Washington, state and local governments benefit from an honest, non-political approach to achieving Holistic Organizational Effectiveness?
  2. What do you recommend as ways to decrease dysfunctionality in government?
  3. Might the major branches of the U.S. Government benefit from conducting and taking action on the results of the Holistic Organizational Effectiveness Survey?
  4. Why didn’t non-Tea Party Republicans stop this costly train wreck before it became so costly to America, Americans and the Republican Party?

About Howard Deutsch

Howard Deutsch is the CEO of Quantisoft, a New Jersey based full-service survey company conducting employee, organizational effectiveness, leadership feedback, customer satisfaction, IT customer satisfaction, enterprise risk and other types of customized surveys since 1999. Howard has extensive senior line management, internal and external consulting experience in many industries. He has a B.S. in Industrial Engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and an MBA in Finance from St. John's University. He was an adjunct faculty member for several years at the Seton Hall University School of Business.
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