Shut ’em Down and Fire the Managers – and the Accountants

Reading this story just ticked me off. I believe our public institutions have a higher standard of operations that they need to be held to because A) they are usually monopolies, and B) they operate using public funds. That is, you and I pay for their services regardless of whether or not we benefit directly from them.

Mismanagement of these agencies, be they Federal, State, Municipal or Contracted to any level of government is not acceptable. I believe it is criminal for any of them to operate a deficit budget and that spending more than is budgeted or failing to meet their obligations, financial or charter must be dealt with in the same manner as any private enterprise. Managers – especially those equivalent to VP level or above – must be held liable for the failure of their entity to perform. Just as they enjoy the perks, power and prestige of overseeing such important institutions, so must they bear the responsibility when they – or their employees – do a poor job of it.

In the case of deficit budgets or failure to pay, why not dock the management team on a percentage basis equivalent to the overage? i.e. if an agency runs a deficit equivalent to 10% of their budget, then the management team not only needs to rectify that situation for the next year (if they aren’t arrested as this shouldn’t be legal in the first place) but they also lose 10% of their earnings – salary, bonus, equivalence in pension, equivalence in provided automobile, everything.

Having an open spigot of taxpayer funds to continue to backfill poorly managed institutions is a recipe for disaster. And why are the management teams allowed to continue doing such an obviously poor job?

Of course, the above assumes that we have generally agreed upon accounting practices which, ridiculously in 21st century America, we don’t.
I’m sorry, but our Congress, rather than wringing their hands and worrying about so much trivial legislation as they are wont to do these days, needs to get off their sorry behinds and HIRE some advisers to establish such accounting practices, amend the constitution such that the Federal government needs to balance books and follow those practices. Then they need to put before the states the option (I can’t get myself to agree to the feds forcing this upon the states by fiat) to follow suit. State lawmakers, rather than hosting silly “rain vigils” and other feelgood crap can set about cleaning out their own practices. And so on down the line through to the lowest levels of government.

2 thoughts on “Shut ’em Down and Fire the Managers – and the Accountants”

  1. Marc. I was surprised in reading this that your water supply is run by a public rather than private body. Many years ago all our water companies were privatised and then slowly sold off to foreign companies. What this meant was that the service went down, the cost went up and the beneficiaries are the major share holders. As tax payers we then have to fund government appointed regulatory authorities that consume money and do nothing.

    My view is that important utilities should be publically owned. However badly run you have still some sanction via your vote, however remote.

    What the article describes is a money go round of one publically funded body not paying another. It suggests that the Fire Dept budget should be in surplus by the amount unpaid to the water dept but I doubt that will be the case. As as tax funded body you should, as a tax payer, be able to hold them to account. There should be political control so you need to grasp the throat of your first tier representative and demand answers.


  2. Hey Peter,

    Our water supplier represents itself as part of our municipal government so it looks like we have taken a different tack in that area.

    But I probably should have been clearer, I started off being primarily ticked that the water supplier doesn’t take action to collect the outstanding debts (you can bet that if *I* owed even a few hundred dollars my water supply would be in jeopardy). But I think my disgust morphed pretty quickly to focusing on the ineptness of the owing bodies and the galling fact that these are public entities that are making use of the water system as a source of illegal and interest-free loans.

    I recognize that, being all government entities, the money is ALL mine (and my fellow taxpayer’s). As you point out, what does this mean for the Water System’s budget? Do they operate within the shortfall or are the deadbeat’s refusal to pay resulting in more of my money being drawn into the water system’s (and ultimately the deadbeat’s) budget to make up the shortfall?

    After seeing the travesty that is the privatization of our Natural Gas companies from the monopoly that was Atlanta Gas Light I have to say that I’m moving toward favoring ALL crucial utilities be public as you suggest. It seems that the trade-off is either potential incompetence of Publicly run outfits vs. the collusion of self-interested companies with a de facto monopoly. Overall I haven’t seen ANY free market forces impinging on the inflated prices we’ve been forced to pay so I can see that, in this case, privatization was merely an illusion.

    Ah, to grasp that throat (figuratively speaking) and having some relevance even though I’m a single individual constituent…

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