Monday, April 19, 2010

A government influenza

A recent post of mine over on the Blog at

A government influenza
Jim Fedako

I recently received the 2009 Annual Report of my county's general health district. Splashed on the front page is the headline, "H1N1 Flu Campaign Breaks Local Records." Wow. I didn't realize the flu had such an impact in central Ohio. Or did it?

Turns out the records were not cases of the flu -- there were only 29 of those throughout the year. No, the records set were these (from the front page of the annual report):

  • The biggest immunization campaign (18,000+ doses of flu vaccine administered, and still counting)

  • The biggest single immunization clinic (2,404 persons served at Olentangy Liberty High School)

  • The biggest data entry project (every dose of the vaccine is being tracked in case of adverse reactions)

  • The biggest mobilization of volunteers (at least 71)

  • All for 29 cases. In a county of over 160,000 residents.

    H1N1 certainly had an impact -- it allowed the specter of big government to further haunt the soul of a once proud, independent region.


    Anonymous said...

    As is with all government, the outcome is incidental to the process.

    For government agencies, a successful outcome is proof that the process worked, regardless of convolution or cost. An unsuccessful outcome is proof that more process is needed.

    For government agencies, incremental process (the addition of procedure beyond that needed to directly accomplish a task) is bureaucratic value added in the form of "plausible deniability". Simply put, the more complex a process is made to become, and the more touchpoints of review and approval it receives, the more diffuse the blame becomes should something go wrong.

    While the mark of a good manager in the private sector is measured in the efficiencies brought to departmental processes, the mark of a good manager in the public sector (or private sector union, for that matter) is how much s/he can insulate the department from culpability. This creates the environment of laxity that administrators and other bureaucrats crave.

    Sound familiar?

    Jim Fedako said...

    7:22 --

    Do you mean that it is being done for the kids?