Illinois Republicans: Improvement Requires Willingness to Change

The words “improvement requires willingness to change” come from the title of an article written by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush for the Reason Foundation’s “Innovators in Action” report last year. Without a doubt Jeb Bush’s tenure as governor provided terrific examples to follow for our own Illinois Republican elected leaders here in Illinois, and we’ve noted as much previously.

The Reason Foundation’s report includes former governors, big city mayors, and other state and local officials demonstrating “how governments can tackle bureaucracy, streamline operations and become more accountable to taxpayers…”

“In their own words, these leaders reveal how they are reducing government spending; collaborating with the private sector to deliver cost-savings and better services to taxpayers; using public-private partnerships to build roads their governments couldn’t afford on their own; working with high-tech firms to improve technology and increase Internet usage without using taxpayer money; and reforming Medicaid, health and social services.”

In Jeb Bush’s article, he wrote:

“The world is ‘flatter’ and more connected than ever before. Trends that used to take years to develop, now take months to take hold. Economies are emerging every day to challenge our dominance in the global marketplace, where innovation and ideas are as commonplace as goods and services.

Yet, government, with few exceptions, still works like it did in the 1950s, with a pyramid-style, top-down bureaucracy that moves with tortoise-like speed. For America to succeed in the increasingly competitive global economy, our government needs to be able to quickly adapt to this new, changing world.”

During the next few paragraphs he expounded on these points:

The first step is clearly defining the role of government.” “A government that grows significantly beyond these core responsibilities will eventually grow beyond our ability to pay for it. When government grows in scope, its size and cost grow too-often exponentially.”

The second step is developing a zeal for reform. Constantly challenging the status quo with questions like ‘why?’ and, perhaps more importantly, ‘why not?,’ creates an ongoing cycle of improvement.”

Jeb Bush also wrote about modernization, outsourcing, privatizing, and the need to create situations where competition is able to impact the delivering of state services. The example he gave was that “the discussion of competition and the prospect of privatization often spurred reform within an agency.” I’ll bet.

Bush warned that “New outsourcing projects can be a process of trial and error,” and went on to give an example. He added,

“Overcoming the inherent fear of change within a bureaucracy is a constant challenge to the success of outsourcing, and transformational reform as a whole. As Albert Einstein wisely said, ‘Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.’ To improve services and systems, we need to be willing to change.”

The more you learn about how he approached his job the less surprising it is that he succeeded on so many fronts. Bush uses words such as “efficient,” “effective,” “dynamic,” and “accountability,” and wrote that one key to assuring quality assurance is to have the private sector doing the bulk of the actual work of government.

Last week we noted Sheila Weinberg’s “Truth in Accounting” project and the fiscal condition of Illinois. If Illinois Republican legislators are ever going to heed her warnings, they’re going to have to start sounding more like Jeb Bush. When was the last time you heard any of them use the word “innovate”?