What is a secret change agent?

Posted on October 23, 2010 by

You are, though you may not know it, yet.

I think that most of us work for government because we want to make a difference. I chose to work for local government because I feel like it’s where the rubber hits the road. I had worked in the U.S. Senate, for worldwide consulting firms and national non-profits when I walked into the office of the Mayor of the City of St. Louis to assume my duties as speechwriter. I felt like I had come home. There’s something to be said for waking up every morning with a mission to improve the community I live in.

I believe in government. Amazing things have happened when government leads. The course of history changes.  The Civil Rights Act, the Polio Vaccination Act, the New Deal, NAFTA.

Public trust in government is essential. So much hinges on that trust – whether people will support taxes or other funding mechanisms. Our democratic process depends on trust in government.

Right now, confidence in government is low. You can see it in the comments people make at the end of online news articles about public sector pay and benefits. You can see it in the low turnout in elections.

The lack of public trust and the bureaucracy we work in is starting to burn us out. We need to be able to get back to why we became public servants.

So, that’s why I was so excited when I heard our new Executive, Dow Constantine, talk about doing things in a different way — restoring power to the people, continuous process improvement, change leadership. We’ve cut and cut and cut. We can’t keep banging our heads against the same wall. We have to change the way we are doing things. And we need a change in our culture to do that.

Our challenge now is  how to become more efficient in a way that maintains the public trust and improves morale.

I sense the start of a revolution.

Written by Brooke Bascom, King County Health and Well Being Program

Brooke has been with the county for 6 years. She started as Deputy Press Secretary for King County Executive Ron Sims and has worked for the Department of Natural Resources and Parks, Elections and the Health Reform Program (including Healthy Incenitves). Brooke has worked on a number of change initiatives such as the transition of parks off of general revenue funds through a more entrepreneurial way of doing business, election reform and the Health Reform Program which has changed the culture in King County to support employee health and implemented an innovative benefit design.