Anyone can be a leader during times of plenty. All you have to do is to manage the logistics – who gets, what, when, why and how. For that matter, many of our youngsters look forward to a government job.
In a typical Ministry, the annual budget will be allocated by the Treasury from the consolidated fund. Once the budget is approved, which will always be approved by the Parliament, the money will be available for spending.
That is what is called the ‘taxpayer factor’ – public service shall always operate as long as there is a form of government where the people are taxed for every money they earn to support the administration of public affairs. It is a model that has existed for a long period of time.
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From a career growth perspective, critical thinking is needed when there is scarcity. However, in the public sector, few entities have pressure for revenue generation. A revenue Authority, for example, must collect revenues from the public. Much as such an Authority has a legal mandate to enforce the law and compel people to pay, lots of thinking goes into the crafting and implementation to create user awareness and compliance. There is also need for efficiency in the enforcement and a clear strategy to reduce corruption and hit the targets since government is always looking at the Authority for the internally generated funds to support the national budget.
Other public entities are concerned about spending. With lots of money at their disposal, all thinking focuses on service delivery i.e. value for money attainment. That side of the coin is easy to manage. No revenue pressures. All you have to worry about is how to spend this money without getting the Ombudsman or Auditor General or Police after my neck.
For that reason, public service employees pay more attention to compliance with the laws and regulations, policies and procedures and best practices. Once they comply, there are few questions asked. However, it is difficult to attain ‘compliance’ as well as ‘stakeholder’ value delivery.
Many times, private sector players, however small their businesses, are some of the best leaders – so shrewd, agile and very focused. That is the kind of agility you need to run a public entity.
The laid back attitude and slow pace of challenges usually experienced by public service staff make a government job the dream for most youngsters.
To be continued.