posted on June 22, 2012 10:06
This week I spoke to the Association of Government Information Officers in Raleigh. About 25 people were there (all but three were women, by the way; the reverse from when I was in government over 30 years ago).
I asked two questions. First, how many think your agency (most all are in state government) is held in high regard by the public? About five hands went up. Then, how many thank your agency is held in high regard by the politicians who control its budget? Maybe three hands, and those were tentative.
In other words, people hate government today.
Why? One answer is the media. First are the cutbacks in traditional media, like the N&O. The result is less coverage of government’s routine business and more focus on things that go wrong (see Medicaid and Lettergate.) Then there is the rise of new media – from Fox News to this blog. And the focus there also tends to be: government can’t do anything right; it just wastes your money.
No wonder people are so negative. And no doubt there are problems. Like DHHS has spending years and millions of dollars pursuing a Medicaid system that uses COBOL. COBOL? Why not just do everything in Latin on stone tablets?
Not all the news is bad: Someone from DPI said that North Carolina’s dropout rate has steadily been going down. But polls show most people think the opposite is the true.
Americans have a great tradition of being suspicious of government. But what about the tradition of getting the facts before making up our minds?
Today, we make up our minds, then find the facts that fit.