Quality Issues in Government
In the quest to deliver quality service, public-sector organizations face a number of unique challenges:
- Human resources—Continuous improvement techniques require research and statistical analysis talent, which are found and developed more routinely in the private sector.
- Taxpayer funding—Investment dollars for improvement initiatives must come from taxpayer money, and every dollar spent must be justified to taxpayers.
- Infrastructure—Many government agencies first need to establish an infrastructure that will support continuous improvement activities. Measurement and project management practices, for example, may need developing.
- Transparency—Improvement requires information-sharing, including airing mistakes so they can be analyzed, and reporting every step of decision-making processes. This is a process many government agencies may not be accustomed to.
- Involvement—Citizen engagement and involvement is a requirement for local governments.
- Accountability—Citizens, or “customers,” are also taxpayers, and governments must be accountable to them.
- Customer options —Because governments have no immediate or obvious competition, “customers” have limited options.
Also, service delivery can be complicated by the relationships government must form with the private sector.
- Service expectations—Citizens’ service expectations are often set by their private-sector experiences.
- Partnerships—Governments often must follow more rigorous guidelines for selecting, evaluating and monitoring private contractors.
- Outsourcing—In order to meet lower budgets, more governments are facing pressures to outsource services to private-sector providers.
Meeting Public-Sector Challenges
Read about how a number of government agencies have responded to the specific challenges of service improvement in the public sector:
Measuring Quality in the Department of Defense
The events of Sept. 11 reinforce the transition of the Department of Defense’s finance and accounting division to a customer-focused, strategy-based organization.
Quality Progress magazine, January 2002.
Changing Lives with Six Sigma
How an Indiana government agency implemented Six Sigma to improve its delivery of services, having a direct impact on the lives of citizens.
ASQ Six Sigma Forum, August 2003.
The Web site of Fort Wayne, Indiana, documents the city’s progress with Six Sigma to improve customer service and increase the effectiveness of city government. Project examples and results include a 50% reduction in missed garbage pick-ups, a reduction in pothole complaint response time from 21 hours to 3 hours and more than $315,000 savings in 2003 from reduced construction bid costs.
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