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The Manager's Musings.

Common pain, common cause, common sense

THIS FALL ISSUE'S MUSINGS were overtaken by events the morning of Tuesday, September 11. As I sat listening to plenary remarks at the National Academy of Public Administration's (NAPA) annual human resources management conference, word seeped in about explosions at the World Trade Center (WTC) and the Pentagon. After a brief clarifying announcement, our focus shifted to the Fox network coverage projected onto the huge auditorium viewing screen. For the next several hours, conference participants, speakers, exhibitors, and staff tried to obtain more details on these dramatic events and to make contact with their family, friends, and colleagues.

I for one was in touch with my wife, trying to track down our son, whose Wall Street office is three blocks from the WTC. Fortunately, by late morning, we contacted him on his cell phone as he negotiated his way towards the East River and then to his apartment a little further uptown.

Throughout the day's events and the week that followed, countless individuals and organizations--both public and private--extended themselves to help others in need. Heroic fire, police, and emergency medical personnel; hotel, food industry, sanitation, and transportation managers and workers; public officials; and other private citizen volunteers. All of this was done without special incentives, labor-management negotiations, public vs. private sourcing considerations, partisan political haggling, or any other form of horse-trading.

This type of behavior is the antithesis of the so-called bureaucratic mode, caustically referred to by Peter Brock in The Empowered Manager as "failure to take responsibility for what's happening." Indeed, it's the essence of entrepreneurial behavior. Unbridled, and without a lot of fuss, it's reassuring to see how Americans (both private citizens and public servants) take care of business -- especially when there's a sense of urgency, the objective is clear, and people are working together toward a common purpose.

Two Fall mini-forums

The Fall issue offers two mini-forums that converge on a common theme: accountability for outcomes. The first provides three key trains of thought from the Association of Government Accountants' 50th anniversary conference, with Tom Novotny providing an overview. The second mini-forum, pulled together by Chris Wye, explores three themes from NAPA's recent performance conference.

More on working together

Next, Bob Goldenkoff offers some studied views on how government organizations are breaking new ground and what policy questions and operational issues need to be addressed for partnering to achieve its full potential. T. E. Mitchell shares his thoughts on what the Bush administration can do to improve agency service delivery and customer responsiveness. This is followed by Ken Smith's article--first in a four-part series--seeking a dialogue among federal labor relations practitioners and other interested parties. And Lea Chapan, former executive director of the Denver Federal Executive Board, shares a little known story about one community's outreach to another--Denver to Oklahoma City--in circumstances not unlike today's.

Other changing landscapes

To complete the fall issue lineup, Harriet West and John Edwards kick off another four-part series, this one designed to help federal managers implement new requirements by Congress for enabling 100 percent of eligible agency employees to telecommute by 2004. Grimaldi offers unfamiliar advice in the form of familiar aphorisms with an attitude. And Al Hyde closes the issue out with Views that question the implementation of performance management in government, consider practical implications of IT, and ponder yet other items that are bound to catch many a reader's eye.
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Article Details
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Author:Master, Warren
Publication:The Public Manager
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Sep 22, 2001
Previous Article:Everyone wants others held accountable.
Next Article:AGA's Annual Meeting Marks 50th Year. (Mini-Forum: Celebrating Aga's 50th Year).

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