May Roundup–Solving the Quality/Government Puzzle

Government and quality is a tricky topic. “Everyone” knows that government can use more quality. “Everyone” knows that our politicians can do a much better job. And yet “everyone” doubts that it’s possible to use quality tools in politics in any consistent way. Or is it? That’s the question posed to ASQ’s Influential Voices bloggers in May.

The responses tended to fall into three groups: 1) Quality in politics is great but unlikely for a variety of reasons, 2) Success stories about quality in government (I really encourage you to read these examples and case studies), and 3) Taking small steps to incorporate quality tools into government—perhaps on a local scale, or in certain agencies or departments.

Mark Graban  of Lean Blog writes a “rant” about poor government quality—particularly in the TSA. “Are there lessons we can bring back to our workplaces? Or is the lesson to not waste time worrying about or trying to implement ‘lean government’?” he asks. Another Lean blogger, Tim McMahon, notes that “The nature of government has been to maintain the status quo. The trouble with this is that it leaves no opportunity for growth and improvement.” Nergis Soylemez discusses several articles and surveys on Lean and Six Sigma in the public sector—including a survey conducted by ASQ last year.

Deborah Mackin also discusses TSA failures, but asks if we as citizens are too complacent in letting the government get away with its lack of quality. On the same note, Guy Wallace wonders if we, those who vote, get the government we deserve. “Learn, Vote, and Talk” is Jennifer Stepniowski’s recommendation for improving government quality. John Priebe writes that we focus too much on political platforms and “right” versus “left” leaning parties instead of focusing on smarter government. And Nicole Radziwill wonders if public sector employees are aware of quality tools at their disposal. If not, are we willing to allocate resources needed to achieve higher quality?

Manu Vora shares several success stories about the use of quality in government, ranging from Florida to India. Speaking of which, India-based Anshuman Tiwari writes about problems and opportunities for quality improvement in India’s public sector. And Rajan Thiyagarajan, also based in India, details how India’s public sector is making strides in quality improvement.

In Hong Kong, Dr. Lotto Lai shares how local government helped establish and improve quality principles. Portugal-based Paulo Sampaio reflects on a study about the future of quality in Portugal—which includes recommendations for a national quality strategy. Writing from Ecuador, Cesar Diaz Guevara writes about using ISO standards to improve government efficiency in Mexico and Chile. Speaking of ISOs, Kerrie Anne Christian discusses the use of standards in improving voting machines. Jimena Calfa blogs about a quality in government success story in Argentina.

Having worked in quality improvement in U.S. government agencies such as the White House Military Office, John Hunter shares some reflections from his personal experience.
Bob Mitchell is another blogger who was involved in government quality improvement, in Minnesota. Aimee Siegler shares an anecdote about local government in Wisconsin, and reflects on policies on a wider scale.

Drawing on his experience working in a naval shipyard, Scott Rutherford cautions us against making blanket statements about government performance. Scott also reflects on long-term cultural changes needed to enhance quality in government and beyond in this entry. And Dr. Robert Burney writes that his employer, the Office of Medical Services in the U.S. State Department, is quite successful at using quality techniques. “Are we truly worse that the civilian healthcare industry?” he asks. “No. We’re better, and I can prove it.”

Finally, David Levy eschews politics for another timely post about his experience at ASQ’s World Conference on Quality and Improvement.

By the way, for more resources on quality in government, take a look at ASQ’s Quality in Government overview, which includes case studies, tools, webinars, news stories, and more.

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One Response to May Roundup–Solving the Quality/Government Puzzle

  1. proposed four criteria that distinguish the two: (1) quality improvement applies research into practice, while research develops new interventions; (2) risk to participants is not present in quality improvement, while research could pose risk to participants; (3) the primary audience for quality improvement is the organization, and the information from analyses may be applicable only to that organization, while research is intended to be generalizable to all similar organizations; and (4) data from quality improvement is organization-specific, while research data are derived from multiple organizations.

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