Public Sector Performance: Management, Motivation, and Measurement

By Richard C. Kearney; Evan M. Berman | Go to book overview

3
THE DEADLY SINS IN PUBLIC ADMINISRATION

Peter F. Drucker


I

No one can guarantee the performance of a public service program, but we know how to ensure non-performance with absolute certainty. Commit any two of the following common sins of public administration, and non-performance will inevitably follow. Indeed, to commit all six, as many public service agencies do, is quite unnecessary and an exercise in overkill.

(1) The first thing to do to make sure that a program will not have results is to have a lofty objective--"health care," for instance, or "to aid the disadvantaged." Such sentiments belong in the preamble. They explain why a specific program or agency is being initiated rather than what the program or agency is meant to accomplish. To use such statements as "objectives" thus makes sure that no effective work will be done. For work is always specific, always mundane, always focused. Yet without work there is non- performance.

To have a chance at performance, a program needs clear targets, the at- tainment of which can be measured, appraised, or at least judged. "Health care" is not even a pious intention. Indeed it is, at best, a vague slogan. Even "the best medical care for the sick," the objective of many hospitals in the British National Health Service, is not operational. Rather, it is meaningful to say: "It is our aim to make sure that no patient coming into emergency will go for more than three minutes without being seen by a qualified triage

____________________
"The Deadly Sins in Public Administration," Public Administration Review 40 ( March/ April, 1980): 103-106.

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