Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Saturdays, 50-hour weeks

Recently, we've had a lot of government-sponsored public hearings (ODOT, for example) during what most of us consider to be the normal work week and normal work hours, Monday through Friday, 8:00 AM through 5:00 PM. If the public are to participate, they must either take time off or shift productive work time to other slots. The result is that most people cannot afford, or are not allowed, to participate in the public processes. Is this, then, truly a public process, or a sham?

Also, we hear all the things government can't get done, or do well enough, because of all kinds of constraints. Consider the backed-up court dockets, for example. Remember your unreturned phone calls and emails. Consider, too, that the government hires outside contractors at additional cost, and still, lots goes undone.

It's time to make a career of "government service" just that--service, and to that end, I propose that we initiate immediately a minimum 50-hour work week for all government employees, at every level, for the same pay--either five days at 10 hours a day or 6 days at 8 hours a day, with credit for an additional 2 hours when Saturday work is required, as for public meetings and hearings. And, all of these public hearings should be held outside normal work hours.

If we haven't made government work harder, at least have it work longer, until if gets things right. When we need greater efficiencies, we need to look first to our existing assets--our salaried government workers.

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