What ought to be listed on a report card that is used to evaluate a federal bureaucracy?What ought to be listed on a report card that is used to evaluate a federal bureaucracy?
I would argue that the most important things that a bureaucracy is supposed to do include serving its constituents and making sure that it is not wasting the money that it is given by taxpayers through Congress. Sadly, both of these are very difficult things to quantify on a report card because people can disagree quite vigorously as to what constitutes wasting money and/or what constitutes good constituent service.
If I had to put something on a report card, though, I would first put something about "customer" service on there. I would try to measure the extent to which the bureaucracy makes prompt decisions about what its customers ask for and the extent to which it helps them through the process of applying for permits, doing their taxes, or whatever other sort of service the bureaucracy is supposed to provide.
I would also try to devise some sort of metric for how well the bureaucracy's spending is aligned with its goals. I would try to look at the extent to which its programs, for example, were really geared towards achieving whatever it is that agency is supposed to achieve.
Efficiency of operation, oversight or lack thereof, and success at achieving departmental goals should definitely be placed on any report card of government agencies. There are many cries of foul by those who disagree with government policies; yet no one can deny that failure to oversee spending often leads to tremendous waste. Unscrupulous contractors have been known to sell trash cans to the government for $90.00 each simply because they either had a "friend" on the inside to look the other way or because they banked on the agency being too busy to catch every little detail.
The recent incident with the Bureau of Minerals and Mining when federal inspectors were entirely too cozy with members of the industry they were to regulate is a classic example of the need for oversight.
I am echoing the votes of the above posters...cost-effectiveness, wise budgeting, and wiser spending. It's the people's money and they waste it by the carloads. Also, I would go so far as to put "law abiders" on the report card. Too many of our leaders in government have unpaid tickets, spending public money on private assets (that, in my humble opinion, is THEFT), and they prove time and time again to lie about lots of things (tax evasion, adultery, using the government's planes for private transportation, taking bribes or kickbacks for voting in favor of ridiculous laws/bills, etc.). In short, are they honest and actually working FOR the people in their districts/regions (not their own personal gain)?
Agencies should be evaluated on how well they carry out thier primary function. In other words, do they do what they exist to do. On the report card, I would assess the agency's efficiency in accomplishing this purpose. I would also assess its financial efficiency. Is money allotted used wisely? Is money wasted? Personnel issues are also important. Are there excess staff members or a shortage of staff? Finally, I think customer service is important. Do people that have to deal with this agency feel that they are dealt with fairly and efficiciently? Are they treated rudely? Do they dread returning?
I would include dollar value for services generated, or to put it another way, cost effectiveness. Also on the list for me would be responsiveness to public needs, meaning, do they respond well and quickly to what is required of them, and to specific public needs or inquiries? Are their operations efficient in both of these areas? Are they overstaffed or understaffed? Do they have effective internal auditing and cost controls in place? I'm sure there are more, but these would be at the top of my list.
Of the above, I believe the "cost effectiveness" criteria (and the like) is the most important. How is taxpayer money spent and is this the most effective use of funds?
Also, like an elementary school report card, can we add a "Behavior" section to the criteria? I'd like to see actual members in government organizations be rated on things like, HONESTY, INTEGRITY, and MGMT. of PERSONAL AFFAIRS in light of the PUBLIC EYE.
A report card should be some way of enhancing the accountability of political figures. For this reason, I can only higlight and support #6 and clairewait's desire to have some kind of personal accountability in politics. Just think what kind of grade politicans would receive if they received a report on such characteristics! Above all, however, I do believe that justifying how our hard-earned money is spent is incredibly important.