When Civil Servants Attack

When Civil Servants Attack
By: Nicholas A. Dunlap, CPM

You never know when to expect it, possibly because you hope to be proved wrong. And yet the moment you enter the imposing mid-century complexes and approach the counterperson for your appointment, the feeling strikes quick and strikes deep. This is no private, service driven enterprise you find yourself in, not here my friend. This is your tax dollars: miserable at work, festering behind a counter and they’re ready to make your life a living hell.

As opposed to a thriving business where there is a direct correlation between exceptional service and booming profits, most Civil Servants realize or simply embody the opposite: negativity and misguidance equals citizens or residents less likely to return, equals sitting behind a counter doing nothing equals getting paid for nothing. At what point do the Managers or higher-ups at the City get involved with this old, broken model? In our current economy, there is no reason that Civil Servants should not be as sharp or pleasant than their lower paid counterparts from the other side of the counter.

What if cities were forced to implement Car Dealership type service platforms in which they fought to serve the prospective customers the second they entered the complex? Imagine the convenience of having someone run to you, remove the blueprints from your arms, walk you to a counter and show you how to proceed. Wouldn’t you feel so, oh I don’t know, like you could actually see your property taxes working in front of your eyes for a change?

Or maybe the approach isn’t this Car Dealership format, maybe it is that of a successful Carpenter’s model where one is “paid by the piece”. From a management standpoint, wouldn’t it be great if the Civil Servant got paid per project? Maybe then they would actually help us achieve our goals. Be it a new project, addition, remodel or other; pay them for completing tasks, not simply for keeping a chair or counter space warm.

On a bad day, it makes you wonder how anything ever got built in the first place. Or maybe it just goes to show how far the level of customer service in the public sector has deteriorated to in this great country. At one point in time, great minds were able to create and compose great buildings, now, through red tape and bureaucracy, greatness has all but subsided in the arena of Civil service.

*To show that I am not issuing a blanket complaint, I would like to recognize the cities of Anaheim and Orange for knowing how to take care of business. Dealings with your Building, Planning, Redevelopment, Traffic, Fire and Code Enforcements departments have been head and shoulders above my experiences with the rest of Orange County’s Departments of Public Work.