Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Information Age in Michigan Begins With Dr. Carol Weaver by Akindele Akinyemi


I just read Al Williams website for State Representative in District 7. While I have nothing but good things to say about Al I am wondering about this statement he has made on his platform on his website.

"I will work tirelessly to develop new jobs directly dealing the growing sector of alternative energy for Michigan."

While I applaud his efforts we can tell that he is running because he has a passion to do so. Unfortunately, jobs cannot be created unless we restructure government in the State of Michigan and the way we conduct business.

Dr. Carol Weaver has a serious plan for that. She feels that it is simply impossible for the Michigan government to meet the challenges of the 21st century with the bureaucracy, regulations and systems of the 1880s.

Implementing policy effectively is ultimately as important as making the right policy. In national security we have an absolute crisis of ineffective and inefficient implementation which undermines even the most correct policies and risks the security of the country. In health, education and other areas we have cumbersome, inefficient, and ineffective bureaucracies which make our tax dollars less effective and the decision of representative government less capable. People expect results and not just excuses.

Carol Weaver feels that in order to get those results in the 21st century will require a profound transformation from a model of bureaucratic roadblocks to a model of 21st Century Entrepreneurial Public Management.

It is an objective fact that state government today is incapable of moving at the speed of the Information age.It is an objective fact that state government today is incapable of running a lean, agile operation like the logistics supply chain system that has made Wal-Mart so successful or the recent IBM logistics supply chain innovations which IBM estimates now saves it over $3 billion a years while improving productivity and profits.

We can talk jobs but what about the infrastructure? See what I am talking about? We have people in this race talking about bringing jobs to the district but not talking about rebuilding the infrastructure. Al Williams talk jobs but what about the infrastructure?

Moving Michigan into the Information age is critical because Michigan for so long have relied on manufacturing and not information. We are still stuck in the industrial revolution while China and India drive the price of oil to over $135 a barrel.

Similarly, the members of both the State House and State Senate and their staffs are quick to hold hearings and issues press releases about mistakes in public administration but there are remarkably few efforts to identify what works and what should be streamlined and modernized.

Similarly, the news media will uncover, exaggerate and put the spotlight on any potential scandal but it will do remarkably little to highlight, to praise, and to recognize outstanding breakthroughs in getting more done more quickly with fewer resources.

Without fundamental change in Michigan, we will continue to have an unimaginative, red tape ridden, process-dominated system which moves slower than the industrial era and has no hope of matching the speed, accuracy and agility of the information age.

The Wal-Mart model is that “everyday low prices are a function of everyday low cost.” The Wal-Mart people know that they cannot charge over time less than it costs them. Therefore if they can have the lowest cost structure in retail they can sustain the lowest price structure.

This same principle applies to state government. The better you use your resources the more things you can do. The faster you can respond to reality and develop an effective implementation of the right policy the more you can achieve.

Carol Weaver is the only one promoting to create an information age state government that operated with the speed and efficiency of modern supply chain logistics could do a better job of providing public goods and services for less money. Moving state government into the information age is a key component of Michigan being able to operate in the real time 24/7 worldwide information system of the modern world.

Carol believes in moving state government into the information age is absolutely vital if the military and intelligence communities are to be capable of buying and using new technologies as rapidly as the information age is going to produce them.

She also embraces the fact that moving state government into the information age is unavoidable if police and drug enforcement are to be able to move at the speed of their unencumbered private sector opponents in organized crime, slave trading and drug dealing.

While other candidates are talking about what so-called promises they are going to bring to District 7 Carol believes in moving state government into the information age is a key component of Michigan being able to meet its educational goals and save those who have been left out of the successful parts of our society.

Moving state government into the information age is a key component of Michigan being able to develop new energy sources and create a cleaner environment with greater hydro-diversity.

Moving government into the information age is a key component of America being able to transform the health system into a 21st Century Intelligent Health System.

While other people in the race have not outlined their model for success (and all you have to do is ask them) Carol Weaver has outlined 5 points to create an effective state government in Michigan.

(1) Michigan's information age requires a constant focus on team building, team development, and team leadership. It is the wagon train and not the mountain man that best characterizes the information age. People have to work together to get complex projects completed in this modern era. It takes a while to build teams. There should be a lot more thought given to changing personnel laws so leaders can arrive in a new assignment with a core team of people they are used to working with.

(2) Information technology combined with the explosion in communications (including wireless communications) create the underlying capabilities that should be at the heart of transforming government systems. The power of computing and communications to capture, analyze and convey information with stunning accuracy and speed and at ever declining costs creates enormous opportunities for rethinking how to deliver goods and services. These new capabilities have been engines of change in the private sector. They are the heart of Wal-Mart’s ability to turn “everyday low price is a function of everyday low cost” into a realistic implementation strategy. They are at the heart of the revolution in logistics supply chain management. They are this generation’s most powerful reason for being sure we can expect more choices of higher quality at lower cost. We have only scratched the surface of the potential. It is possible for every high school in Detroit to have the largest library in the world by simply having one laptop accessing the Internet. This is a totally different kind of system for learning. NASA is now connecting to schools to allow students to actually direct telescopes and search for stars from their classroom.

(3) Creating a citizen centered government using the power of the computer and the Internet. The agrarian-industrial model of government saw the citizen as a client of limited capabilities and the government employee as the center of knowledge, decision and power. It was a bureaucrat-centered model of governance (much as the agrarian-industrial model of health was a doctor-centered model and the agrarian-industrial school was a teacher-centered model). Under a Michigan information age it will be possible to develop citizen centered models of access and information. The Weather Channel and Weather.com are a good example of this new approach. The Weather Channel gathers and analyzes the data but it is available to you when you want it and in the form you need. You do not have to access all the weather in the world to discover the weather for your neighborhood tomorrow. You do not have to get anyone’s permission to access the system 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Google is another system of customer centric organization that is a model for government. You access Google when you want to and you ask it the question that interests you. Compare these systems with the current school room, the courthouse which is open from 8 to 5, the appointment at the doctor’s office on the doctor’s terms, the college class only available when the professor deigns to show up. Government is still mired in the pre-computer, pre-communications age.

(4) A customer centered, citizen centered model of governance would start with the concept that as a general rule being online is better than being in line. It would both put traditional bureaucratic functions on the Internet as is happening in many states (paying taxes, ordering license tags, etc.) but it would also begin to rethink major functions of government in terms of the new Internet based system. The information age makes possible a lot more citizen self help as defined by the citizen’s needs.

(5) Personnel mobility will be a major factor in the information age and will require profound changes in how we conceptualize a civil service. The information age creates career paths in which the most competent people move from challenging and interesting job to challenging and interesting job. A government civil service that required a lifetime commitment was both guaranteeing that it would not attract the most competent people and guaranteeing that it would not have the flexibility to bring in the specialists when they are needed.

As your next state representative in District 7 Dr. Carol Weaver would push for these principles which will be required to move from a system of bureaucratic redtape to a system of entrepreneurial public management. With Carol leading this effort it will be one of the most important transformations of our lifetime here in Michigan and without it Michigan will literally not be able to keep up with the speed and complexity of the information age. This is why we need innovators, not pretenders running on sound bites, to go to Lansing.

The innovator is Dr. Carol Weaver for State Representative in District 7. No one else in her race come close.

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