Why doesn't government run like a corporation?

I have heard this lame question so often - I am beginning to get numb. 

I am 6'3"  Yep - I am extremely tall.  Guess what question I get asked all of the time?  Do you play basketball?   I mean REALLY!  My favorite response to that is, "No, but do you play minature golf?" 

I also feel like saying something smarmy back when people talk about the inefficiencies of government and ponder why government can't run like a corporation.  First of all, having seen both sides of this - government and corporations - corporations have very little to brag about.  Corporations can be disfunctional, dark, and weird places.  And corporations fail all of the time.  The survival rate is very slim.  Government can't fail.  That is not an option unless you want everything - schools, electricity, commerce, emergency response, the mail! - to come to a grinding halt.

In the February 22, 2010 issue of Newsweek - An article called "America, Inc" by Andrew Romano and Michael Hirsh was discussing the trend of corporate CEOs putting their hats in the political ring and reasoning that they could clean things up and run government like a great corporation.  One ex-CEO turned governor, Jon Corzine, begged to differ with that statement.  He, too, felt that his experience as CEO of Goldman Sachs would turn the State of New Jersey around.  But concludes that "The idea that your accountable to a bottom line and to a payroll in managing a business - it gives voters the confience that you have the right skills [to govern].  Buyt its 20,000 people versus 9 million.  I don 't think candidates ge the tscale and scope of what governing is.  You don't have the flexibility you imagined.  There's no exact translation." 

Newsweek goes on to say "Very little that happens inside a corporate suite is like governing a state or a country.  CEO's, like generals, can issue orders and expect them to be carried out.  Jobs and budgets can be pared by fiate, with little public controversy.  It's not nearly as simple for governors, or senators - even presidents.  Their authority is never absolute.  They are constrained by the separation of powers and forced to ride teh giger of public opinion.  They must persuade, cajole, and arm-twist to get their way.  As Harry Truman once said about his presidential successor.  Dwight Eisenhower: "He'll sit there all day saying do this, do that, and nothing will happen.  Poor Ike - it won't be a bit like the Army.""

What is the best a political leader can do - face the issues head on - begin the discussion - and then hang on for a rough ride.  They can start the ball rolling, but they can hardly finish the job on their own.  No, governments can't be run like corporations.  And no, I don't play basketball. 

 

 

This blog

Governmental auditors unite! Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of “The Yellow Book Interpreted” and owner of Yellowbook-CPE.com a website devoted to training for governmental auditors. Whether you are an internal auditor or monitor for a government entity or a CPA doing grant audits, you will enjoy Leita’s humorous take on the complexity of auditing in the government environment.

More from this blog

Bloggers crew

Steve Knowles has spent 25 years in business and practice in the UK, but he also worked in the states and the years haven't dulled his way of seeing an alternative view to everyone else, and every day is a new adventure.

48598

Joel M. Ungar, CPA is a lifelong resident of the Detroit area and a graduate of The University of Michigan. He is a principal with Silberstein Ungar, PLLC, a Top 15 auditor of SEC public reporting companies.

81842

Allan Boress, CPA, with over 25 years as a practitioner and consultant to the accounting profession. Mr. Boress is the author of 12 published books in 6 different languages, including a best-seller, The "I-Hate-Selling" Book.

53766

Larry Perry, CPA, CPA Firm Support Services, LLC, is the author of accounting and auditing manuals, author and presenter of live staff training seminars, and author of webcast and self-study CPE programs. He blogs about small audits, reviews, and compilations.

97133
Sandra Wiley, COO and Shareholder, is ranked by Accounting Today as one of the 100 Most Influential People in Accounting as a result of her prominent role as an industry expert on HR and training as well as influence as a management and planning consultant. She is also a founding member of The CPA Consultant's Alliance. Sandra is a certified Kolbe™ trainer who advises firms on building balanced teams, managing employee conflict and hiring staff.
24551

Maria Calabrese, CIR, Human Resources manager for Fazio, Mannuzza, Roche, Tankel, LaPilusa, LLC in Cranford, New Jersey, Maria's topics revolve around the world of: Mentoring, Performance management, and The "Y Generation," a.k.a. "The whY generation".

61129

William Brighenti is a CPA, Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, and Certified [Business] Valuation Analyst, operating an accounting, tax, and QuickBooks consulting firm in Hartford, Connecticut, Accountants CPA Hartford.

86906

Ken Garen, CPA, is the co-founder and President of Universal Business Computing Company (www.ubcc.com), a software development firm of high-volume, high-productivity accounting and payroll technology.

28481

Eva Rosenberg, MBA, EA, is the publisher of TaxMama.com, and author of the weekly syndicated Ask TaxMama column. She provides answers to tax questions from taxpayers and tax professionals worldwide.

69895

Amy Vetter, CPA, CITP is the CPA Programs Leader for Intacct Corporation responsible for leading the CPA/BPO Partners nationally.

38178
Brian Strahle is the owner of LEVERAGE SALT, LLC where he provides state and local tax technical services to accounting firms, law firms and tax research organizations across the United States. He also writes a weekly column in Tax Analysts State tax Notes entitled, "The SALT Effect." For more info, visit his website: www.leveragestateandlocaltax.com
109924
Scott H. Cytron, ABC, is president of Cytron and Company, known for helping companies and organizations improve their bottom line through a hybrid of strategic public relations, communications, marketing programs and top-notch client service. An accredited consultant, Scott works with companies, organizations and individuals in professional services (accounting, finance, medical, legal, engineering), high-tech and B2B/B2C product/service sales.
29953

Rita Keller is a nationally known CPA firm management consultant, speaker, author, mentor and blogger. She has over 30 years hands-on experience in CPA firm management, marketing, technology and administrative operations.

58117
Stacy Kildal is the mom of two fantastic kids, an Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor, Certified Enterprise Solutions ProAdvisor, Sleeter Group Certified Consultant, a nationally recognized member of the Intuit Trainer and Writer Network, and co-host of RadioFree QuickBooks.
31974
Michael Alter's blog specializes in providing practical advice to those who seek greater profitability and practice management tactics that enhance deeper client relationships.
36579

Sally Glick, CMO, Principal, Marketer of the Year in 2003 and AAM Hall of Famer in 2007, leads a lively discussion of the constantly expanding roles of marketing and the professional marketers that drive this initiative in accounting firms of all sizes.

108715

The IMA Young Professionals Blog features the insights of IMA’s Young Professionals Committee. Committee members share advice and experiences on careers, continuing education, work/life balance, and other issues affecting young accounting and finance professionals.

37850

FEI Financial Reporting Blog provides highlights from SEC, PCAOB, FASB, IASB, and other regulatory news, including reporting under Sarbanes-Oxley Sect 404. It is written by Edith Orenstein, Director of Technical Policy Analysis at FEI.

119888

Sue Anderson has 30 years of experience in continuing education for accountants. Currently she is the program director for online CPE provider CPE Link.

67242

Jim Fahey is COO of Apple Growth Partners, a regional CPA firm in Ohio. His focus is on the effective and efficient use of technology within the firm by all team members.

43635
Caleb Newquist is the Editor-in-Chief of Sift Media US, overseeing content for both AccountingWEB and Going Concern.
71336

Leita Hart-Fanta, CPA, CGFM, and CGAP is the author of "The Yellow Book Interpreted" and owner of Yellowbook-CPE.com a website devoted to training for governmental auditors.

98252

AccountingWEB is more than just a U.S. team of journalists and financial and technology experts - we have an international side, too! Members of our British team who publish AccountingWEB.co.uk share their ideas, insights, and perspectives from across the pond.

58852