Hide the Women and Children. The Rebellion is Here!

The Aug. 8, 2005, edition of Bacon’s Rebellion has been posted online.

With all humility, I would draw bloggers’ attention to my own column, which germinated a couple of weeks ago as a post on this blog:

The Shucet Effect
If the rest of state government had kept pace with VDOT over the past three years, Virginia could have cut spending by nearly $900 million. Don’t tell me there’s no waste left in government!

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  1. Will Vehrs Avatar
    Will Vehrs

    Jim, great column. I disagree in degree about the need for higher compensation–I think you can get better performance in other ways–but everything else is spot-on.

    Three weeks ago three state employees came to give a presentation on a customer service web tool they said we could have “in 20 minutes.” We enthusiastically requested it. It’s been three weeks and apparently the three presenters, who each had two hours to kill to give us the presentation, haven’t been able to find 20 minutes among themselves to actually make it happen.

    I see that kind of non-performing bloat all the time because nobody in state government has any incentive or apparent interest in being more productive or cost-efficient.

  2. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Addendum to the “Shucet Effect” story…

    Ken Anderson, president of Anderson & Associates civil engineering firm in Blacksburg, raises the issue of whether VDOT’s superior performance in reducing staff was connected to a decline in labor-intensive design and construction work. Says Anderson: Philip did some very good things but he was helped along by the fact that design and construction of highways, which is where a lot of manpower is focused, dropped dramatically while he was at the helm. … If you look at his output of ‘product,’ your conclusion may be a little different.”

    So, I shot an e-mail to Shucet, who, by the way, has taken on a new job of Dragas Management Corporation in Virginia Beach. Here’s how he responded:

    “The largest reduction of positions was in the districts, not in the central office design staff. ou have to remember that the design function was pretty narrowly staffed to begin with, because when the program was bigger, most of the design work was farmed out to consultants (like Anderson Associates). When the program declined, consultants like Ken felt the pinch in their workload.

    “Now, think about this. Over the past 3 years, the budget for maintenance work in the districts increased, yet that’s where we really held the line on hiring. So – and I’m not bragging one bit, just stating the facts – the VDOT team did just want good companies are supposed to do. We found a better way to get more money to the bottom line, by improving productivity and reducing overhead.”

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