72

There is no one answer because some agencies are more efficient than others. For example, Medicare is much more efficient in processing and paying medical claims than private insurance companies are at the same task. Medicare devotes just 1.4% of expenditures for administrative costs (a more skeptical analysis that used a broader definition of ...


62

UK Civil Service staff numbers are as follows: As you can see, there were around 750k civil servants around when Thatcher took office and computers started to become mainstream. It has been falling down to ~400k since. The UK's population grew about 10% over the same time period. Put another way, there actually has been large scale reductions in government ...


61

There are two separate effects caused by making it easier to process paperwork. The one that you identified is that it takes less work to process the paperwork that had been required previously. The other effect is that it makes it easier to add more paperwork. If they add enough additional paperwork requirements, that offsets the reduction in the effort ...


48

This topic is examined at quite some length in Ontario Law Reform Commission, Report on Political Activity, Public Comment and Disclosure by Crown Employees (1986) (cited by Mcmanus v Scott-Charlton which was cited in the judgement of the original case in question, which is how I ended up on it; I mention this lest one think that a Canadian document might ...


46

Thirty-plus year state government employee here. Hired 1977, retired 2010. Was there from a time when "the computer" had it's own big room to the time when we had them on our desks. Much of our job before was collection of data, then when the machines came, it became collection and entry, not much of a time saver there! At first the computer did save ...


35

The core concept here is procedural fairness—or rather, the appearance of procedural fairness. Procedural fairness involves whether impartial and open procedures are used when decisions affecting the well being of others are made. Is the decision-maker impartial? Is the game rigged? Procedural fairness is crucial for the health of a democracy because when ...


34

Arguably this somewhat depends on where you draw the line between a public sector employee and a civil servant. There may or may not be a difference between the two classes in your jurisdiction. In Germany, there is. German law distinguishes between public sector employees (Angestellte im öffentlichen Dienst) and civil servants (Beamte). The former are ...


32

President Obama gave a speech at Carnegie Mellon in 2016 where he responded a bit to the idea that government should be run more like a Silicon Valley business, which often comes up when government efficiency is mentioned: The final thing I’ll say is that government will never run the way Silicon Valley runs because, by definition, democracy is messy. This ...


26

Just like anything else, most things humans do arise out of incentives. A private company employee has incentive to be efficient because if they are not, their manager has incentives to fire them, and replace them with a more efficient employee. A private company manager has incentive to do that because efficiency has direct impact on productivity and/or ...


25

In the United States you have Federal and State prison systems fall under Dual Sovereignty Doctrine which gives separate Jurisdiction of crimes to each state in which the crime was committed and the Federal government if it involves two or more states. Because of this, each state administers its own legal system including a prison system that is separate ...


20

Solow Productivity Paradox : "You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics" http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.492.5899&rep=rep1&type=pdf This is true for the private sector and state sector, by the way. Computers make much less difference to productivity than you might expect - what you get ...


19

Others have noted the issues with incentives and competition, but there is actually another reason, which is dis-economies of scale. Back in 1937 economist Ronald Coase asked the deceptively simple question: "why do companies exist?". He reasoned that if the open market was the most efficient way of getting things done then firms (i.e. companies with lots ...


14

tl;dr: because government agencies don't operate under those kinds of constraints Take a step back: why should new technology require fewer staff? If technology make staff more efficient, do you fire the (now extra) staff or move them to some other kinds of tasks? Firms are interested in earning profit. Efficiency gains lower costs and result in more ...


13

I'm wondering about both the separation of federal prisons and state prisons, and the separation of the former prisons to county jails. Are there political factors that influence how that separation is used, and that it exists in the first place? This is mostly a function of who pays for the very high cost of keeping someone incarcerated (typically $25,...


12

Cynical answer: The paragraph quoted seems like an ominous portent of the boredom to follow. They're just saying that over the centuries various authors have various differing definitions of "the State", and the present book's authors are either: genuinely uncertain which, if any, is the most useful and correct of these definitions, and are hashing out ...


12

There are many U.S. jurisdictions in which some public sector employees cannot unionize, and in the U.S. the right of most kinds of private sector employees who aren't part of management (although not all) to unionize, is secured by federal law (the National Labor Relations Act). Unsurprisingly, unionization of federal government employees is also governed ...


11

Yes, there are - but it isn't fantastically wide spread. My basis for this answer relies on my professional experience. I work for my state government (in the United States) as an auditor, and my major claim is that I use computer simulation to analyze government programs. In general? Yes I have personally observed many different simulations being used. ...


10

You're asking a political question, but the answer is simple economics. Put simply, what you are seeing is a feature of Monopolies, not Governments. Your stereotypical company with competitors has a limit to how incompetent it can be. Past a certain point, enough customers will use their competitors and they will go out of business. Even in a world where ...


9

Is it possible to have any position in the executive branch without high school diploma? Are ministers required to have completed higher education degrees? No, a specific level of education is no formal requirement for either the German Chancellor nor the Ministers. There are in fact almost no formal requirements for being elected as chancellor or being ...


9

My question assumes—perhaps incorrectly?—that every dollar the Federal government owes must be paid back on some schedule. You assume incorrectly. By definition, if there is no deficit and no surplus, then the Treasury makes interest only payments on a net basis, and issues one new dollar of federal debt for each dollar repaid. The maturities of ...


9

In North Carolina, while I believe public-sector unions are not technically illegal, it is illegal for them to either strike or collectively bargain with any branch of the state government or its constituent local governments. This means that public sector unions are more or less de facto banned in the state. I understand the law is similar in South Carolina....


8

I've worked at both private and public institutions. Neither seem significantly more or less efficient than the other - there's tons of waste in private institutions but people don't seem to care about that as much.


8

The official title of the role is Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff, which perhaps helps give some insight into the role. It is a political appointment, initially created by an executive order made by Eisenhower in 1953, appointees to which are selected solely by the President, and has no specific codified duties as such. As a consequence of this,...


8

Historically, this was in fact exactly the situation in France between 1884 (loi Waldeck-Rousseau, which made trade unions legal again) and 1946 (when it beame legal for low-level civil servants to form a union). Since then, union rights for public sector employees have been strengthened (it's anchored in the most recent constitution and in international law ...


7

All modern states engage bureaucratic apparatus. As Mandelstam was not nomenklatura but intelligentsia she is unlikely to be competent to speak to the necessity of specific bureaucracy to maintaining Soviet (ie nomenklatura) power. Additionally given her background, and her political position against the nomenklatura, her capacity to speak to the necessity ...


6

Stalin rose to power as a bureaucrat. If you look at history of Soviet politics, Lenin was the head of government. But, Stalin was a Comunist Party secretary - and even when he took power, his post was "General Secretary" All regimes require legitimacy, to maintain control over populace. You will note that most, if not all, of tyrannical rulers had ...


5

One factor I do not see addressed in other answers is legislation. The Civil Service is there to ensure that legislation is enacted. That means the more legislation there is, the more work required to do the job. And the amount of legislation (statutes) on the legal books steadily increases all the time. Legislation is constantly being revised, revoked, ...


4

You say How long would it take to pay off the U.S. national debt if deficits were eliminated? and My question assumes—perhaps incorrectly?—that every dollar the Federal government owes must be paid back on some schedule. These are in conflict. Eliminating the deficit does not pay off the debt. If there is a zero deficit, the government can still ...


4

Public services aren't sold, so its hard to work out how much benefit they provide. However, national statistics are taken. https://www.ons.gov.uk/economy/economicoutputandproductivity/publicservicesproductivity/datasets/growthratesandindicesfortotalpublicserviceoutputinputsandproductivitytable1 Output Inputs Productivity 1997 100.0 100.0 ...


4

The Census Doesn't Work Like That "The census" - as in the official decennial United States census is not based on a sample. The Census Bureau will attempt to collect information from every household in America. You can read about this in their 2020 Operational Plan (pgs 8-9). They send forms to every household in the United States. People may complete ...


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