Saturday, March 03, 2012

I Was “Critic” and Didn’t Know It



You really don’t want to know why or how I got here. So, I promise (myself) to keep this short. Reading the Wikipedia entry on Public Administration...

1980s–1990s

”During the Clinton Administration (1993–2001), Vice President Al Gore adopted and reformed federal agencies using NPM approaches. In the 1990s, new public management became prevalent throughout the bureaucracies of the US, the UK and, to a lesser extent, in Canada.”

Most of you probably don’t remember USATS. (You won’t believe where that link takes you.) But once upon a time, NATCA supported the creation of a government-owned corporation to run the air traffic control system. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that NATCA supported the Clinton Administration and Vice President Al Gore wanted USATS. Fortunately, it didn’t happen. I seriously doubt that any of us (controllers) that fought against it carried the day. We just wound up on the winning side. Back to Wikipedia:

”Some critics argue that the New Public Management concept of treating people as "customers" rather than "citizens" is an inappropriate borrowing from the private sector model, because businesses see customers are a means to an end (profit), rather than as the proprietors of government (the owners), opposed to merely the customers of a business (the patrons). In New Public Management, people are viewed as economic units not democratic participants. Nevertheless, the model is still widely accepted at all levels of government and in many OECD nations.”

I wrote this back in 2003, for AVweb.

Say Again? #30: The Little Big Flick

”I guess I really don't have The Big Flick because I just feel confused. And nothing confuses me more than this: What's up with all this talk of "acting more like a business" and "customer service"? It makes me nervous because it sounds like someone is trying to sell something. Something we probably don't want and definitely don't need. The FAA isn't a business -- it's the government. Your government. Why would anyone willingly accept a demotion from citizen to customer?”

I always thought that was a compelling argument. I still do. I’m not a customer (and I’m not always right.) I’m a citizen. I own the joint. Along with you and 300 million other citizens.

Don Brown
March 3, 2012

1 comment:

Unknown said...

It was my understanding that something in FAA Reauthorization (hopefully the one that was signed, but it might have just been a previous version) was explicit in defining a customer as a paying passenger on an aircraft, or words to that effect.

The FAA's use of the word "customer" for every swinging Richard that uses the system (formerly known as "users") is not only sickening to me, but I feel is a psychological ploy to mentally prep every user to BE a customer if/when the FAA starts forcing them to write a check every time a plane takes to the skies.

I just pray I can finish my 20+ remaining years with the FAA as a federal employee.