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Another big idea

Monday, Feb 11, 2013

* An Aurora Beacon-News headline

Oberweis stresses need for austerity in Springfield

His big austerity idea is to cut the secretarial staff

“I was very surprised at the large staffs available to state legislators,” he commented. “I don’t need that many people to run my office, and I don’t think anyone else does, either. I have my own secretary, and she’s very good at her job, but I don’t need a private secretary. My secretary could handle the workload from two or three senators. If legislators just hired the staff they needed instead of using their entire staffing budgets, we could probably run the state government with 25 to 30 percent fewer taxpayer dollars.”

This, by the way, is the same person who said recently that he was overwhelmed with e-mails

“All of my time is now being spent responding to emails on social issues,” he said.

Senate secretaries also serve as clerks for committees on which their members chair. In the House, they have a separate staff for that job.

And considering the huge number of calls that members have been receiving on pensions and guns lately, I’m not so sure that one secretary can handle three Senators. Heck, even Speaker Madigan’s line is constantly busy.

- Posted by Rich Miller        


80 Comments
  1. - Endangered Moderate Species - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 11:21 am:

    Oberweis’ statements may be in context with what he has experienced in the private sector.

    A recent article in the Champaign News Gazette listed jobs that have had the highest reduction in the new technology era. Administrative Assistants were at or near the top of that list.


  2. - CircularFiringSquad - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 11:22 am:

    If ChopperJim had asked I think most House members already share secretaries, but hey if he starts fact checking he will have fewer issues to blow hard about


  3. - bored now - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 11:23 am:

    maybe they could try an experiment, where republican legislators reduce their “secretarial” staff to one for every three legislators and see how that works out…


  4. - Small Town Liberal - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 11:24 am:

    - If legislators just hired the staff they needed instead of using their entire staffing budgets, we could probably run the state government with 25 to 30 percent fewer taxpayer dollars.” -

    Yes, I’m sure legislative staffers account for 25 to 30 percent of the cost of running state government.

    We need to start requiring candidates to take a basic math test.


  5. - Raising Kane - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 11:32 am:

    I am totally with Small Town Liberal. A few secretary positions will equal 25 to 30% of the budget? Are they paying them 500 Million Dollars a year?

    Obie really has no clue about the budget. It is downright scary that he is an elected official in this state. It’s actually horrifying.


  6. - wordslinger - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 11:33 am:

    Another big idea, to smack down the lowest-paid folks doing most of the work.

    Austerity is going swell in Europe, by the way.

    How about a GA pen? Everyone shares. You don’t need your own pen all the time.

    I’m sure a shared pen would reduce operational costs by a gazillion percent.


  7. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 11:36 am:

    Thank God he worked so hard to get elected through all those failures. Clearly he learned so much along the way. Good grief.


  8. - Whatever - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 11:39 am:

    Maybe we need fewer State Senators — or at least one less.


  9. - Ray del Camino - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 11:40 am:

    Doesn’t Radogno have the same size staff as Cullerton? They might be a little less busy than the Senate Dem staff, since the Rs have, what, 19 members?

    That Oberweis is a piece of work.


  10. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 11:42 am:

    Between Oberweis trying to cut off his nose here taking a out the most important asset any legislator has… And McSweeney calling out a staffer during his campaign against the current legislator in the primary, do these Dopes understand you can’t get anything done WITHOUT staff help?

    The #1 rule - As a legislator, you can NOT thank legislative staff enough, including your secretary enough…EVER!!!

    I would not be shocked if McSweeney and Oberweis hear “Let me get back to you” when they need that Staff help…

    But… ALL staff has so much more Class than Mc Sweeney and Oberweis, staff will bite their tongues, ( unlike, well, ME), and will work like the professionals that staff has always done, and not Dopes like McSweeney and Oberweis are.

    What’s next Oberweis, eliminating a 1/3 of of the General Assmebly again, but this time, the new legislators need to reflect YOUR Illinois?

    You two FRESHMAN will learn… Or be alone, which you may be, but are too wound up being so important to realize, no one cares you won… But you too.

    Lastly, Rich’s point on the emails, Oberweis being overwhelmed, and then cutting the peole who help you try to be responsive to constituents… senator … you do realize peole VOTED for you, not CROWNED you right.

    “Let them eat cake” as your response if you dump staff and ignore your voters WILL come back to haunt you, district leanings notwithstanding. The people elected you, they did not coronate you.

    For every staffer, of ALL staffs, and all secretaries… Mr Oberweis,

    With kindest personal regards, I remain

    Sincerely yours,

    Oswego Willy


  11. - Dan Bureaucrat - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 11:58 am:

    Oberweis, your tiny bit of ice cream charm has melted.

    This is an example of rich people never figuring out how to appreciate the people who are actually doing all the work, all their work. All that invisible work.


  12. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:05 pm:

    And ..um… senator ….

    Your secretary will never say it, so I will…

    “Thank you for basically saying I am good, but I could do the work for 3 senators because you don’t think I do enough work… for you… But need a 2nd or 3rd senator … to please your FRESHMAN thoughts about how to best work. It’s bad enough I got the short straw and got YOU… but stop making have to apologize for you slamming the people I am going to have to cal FOR you, to get what you demand.”

    If I see your Springfield secretary, I will go up to your secretary, offer my hand, and shake, saying one word to YOUR secretary - “Sorry”


  13. - RatherBeGolfing - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:12 pm:

    Another sign he doesn’t have a clue about state government.


  14. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:18 pm:

    Willy, did Jim’s secretary hire, or otherwise authorize, you to speak on his/her behalf–or do you just feel a need to publicly try to drive a wedge between the two of them with your rants because you’re a “uniter?”


  15. - scurvydog - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:19 pm:

    - “All of my time is now being spent responding to emails on social issues,” he said.

    To me, this statement illustrates exactly how the republican party in Illinois just doesn’t get it. Moderates hear the message and they either don’t care about the social issues or are annoyed by the party line stance on them. Get away from the divisive social issues and you’ll find that the moderates might get behind your more sensible ideas.


  16. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:23 pm:

    Nope she didn’t.

    I think Mr. Oberweis’ PERSONAL comment, made by him, will do far more damage than my comments ever could to their relationship.

    How do make his comment about what he thinks his secretary should do sound….complimentary?

    Oberweis causes his own wedges, he doesn’t need me for that.


  17. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:26 pm:

    =To me, this statement illustrates exactly how the republican party in Illinois just doesn’t get it.=

    I couldn’t possibly say whether I agree or disagree with Jim’s statement withiin the context of the public sector, as I’ve never worked in the public sector. However, it is a bit disappointing to see an immediate backlash such as this while everyone’s screaming about budgets and someone seems to be trying to come up with a different way of approaching their own work.

    For some reason, I don’t see Oberweis, specifically because he is from the private sector, doing something in his own office that is going to make him less effective at getting this job done. If he makes an adjustment–and it doesn’t work, he’ll correct it. On the other hand, it seems that if what he does, does work, he’ll only get slammed for it.

    Some might that the lack of willingness to even consider other options within the public sector, could be interpreted as “business as usual.”


  18. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:30 pm:

    =I think Mr. Oberweis’ PERSONAL comment, made by him, will do far more damage than my comments ever could to their relationship.=

    Nope. I actually worked as a manager for a major law firm decades ago that was one of the first to make a switch from one-on-one assignments to two or three-on-one assignments for associates when attorneys (especially the kids out of school) began working differently because of new technologies.

    Result: the secretaries were actually proud of their abilities to support a greater number of associates efficiently and the associates lost out on certain perks like getting their dry cleaning picked up by someone for free, which they were never expecting to have just out of law school anyway.


  19. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:33 pm:

    The Number One Rule for legislators about Springfield; You can never, ever, EVER thank the Staff or your Secretary enough; they work well after you leave, and far earlier than you arrive, and while legislators get to go out for dinner, arrive later, and leave early, the first people they call, at their desks are the Staffers adnd their Secretaries, because, well, those on staff and the secretaries know … The work… has to get done.

    It’s not even a month, and Oberweis doesn’t get it.


  20. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:36 pm:

    And for some reason, you feel that life in major law firms is any different from what you’ve described?


  21. - Susiejones - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:37 pm:

    I feel sorry for the people in Oberweiss’ district. my goodness, could he be more clueless? probably, but geez. yes, he is offering something to cut to help address our fiscal mess, but it is not a serious response to the issue. now, if he was to offer up getting rid of all of the deputy directors, assistants to directors, chiefs of staff at state agencies, then I would take him seriously. if I was his secretary, I think I’d take my personal time and start looking for a transfer to another office.


  22. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:39 pm:

    - Anonymous -,

    A law firm … Ain’t the General Assembly, and the workings of Staff & secretaries in a law firm … ain’t like the last weeks of session.

    I think… If all you think these Secretaries do is get dry cleaning, like your law office secretaries, then I can’t help you to understand why the First Rule for a legislator is probably the most important rule…


  23. - Rich Miller - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:39 pm:

    ===I actually worked as a manager for a major law firm decades ago that was one of the first to make a switch from one-on-one assignments to two or three-on-one assignments for associates===

    So what?

    Do associates get bombarded with calls and letters every single day from hundreds of special interest constituents? Do they get calls on everything from cats in trees to the finer points of legislation?

    There’s no comparison here.


  24. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:41 pm:

    Rich, as I said before, I have no idea whether this would or would not work within the public sector because I have no experience in same. However, based on what Willy described, I can assure you that that is no different from what happens in the major firms.


  25. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:43 pm:

    Again, if you do not think it’s different, I don’t know what experience you may have had with the General Assembly staff and all they do to compare…

    But … Oberweis will learn…because his experience with his secretary and the staff during the heat of session is a but … Green.


  26. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:46 pm:

    =Do associates get bombarded with calls and letters every single day from hundreds of special interest constituents? Do they get calls on everything from cats in trees to the finer points of legislation?=

    No, but if I were a consultant looking to improve efficiencies, my first thought is that this workflow seems similar to that of support centers. Again, I’m not saying that the comparison is not apples to oranges, but that’s the model I’d probably look at first to see whether there are enough similarities to consider application of the same or a tweaked version of it.

    Again, I don’t even know whether anything would have to change. However, if I had an objective to determine the feasibility of it, there are ways to do it methodically v. what seems to be an emotional reaction.


  27. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:49 pm:

    Well, then, come and watch a secretary or a staffer of a day in thenlast weeks of Committees, of Bill filings, and the last days of sessions.

    Then ask yourself, is it the same as the Law Firm?

    I think it’s you not understanding all that gets done, not a criticism, you posted you are making your remarks about what I described…and I can’t, truthfully, give enough credit to staff and the secretaries, no matter how you think I describe it.


  28. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:49 pm:

    =Again, if you do not think it’s different, I don’t know what experience you may have had with the General Assembly staff and all they do to compare…=

    You don’t always need hands-on experience to meet an objective, Willy. While it certainly helps, lack of same doesn’t stop business and operational analysis from occurring, feasibilities being studies, and changes being made (or not made).


  29. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:53 pm:

    If you could “measure” how best to be a staffer or Springfield secretary for a member of the General Assembly, that would be gold, because to be able to understand why they are great and the recipe that makes them great would be something that up to now is immeasurable.

    Oberweis will learn, or will be “taught” by his arrogance, thinking staff and secretaries down there are… Measurable


  30. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:54 pm:

    =But … Oberweis will learn…=

    And if that happens, he’ll correct it, and probably refer to it as “implementing corrective action” since he’s from the private sector and that’s a common term.

    Generally, people in the private sector are not afraid of trying something new because they are afraid that they will fail. If the feasibility studies suggest there’s a high enough chance of success and the risk is low enough, they’ll try it. If it doesn’t work, they might decide to return operations to the previous state, or even a variation thereof.


  31. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 12:55 pm:

    The General Assembly is not about operational analysis, maybe that is where you may be not understanding.


  32. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:00 pm:

    I understand your “model for efficiency”, but …I think you are missing the point that these “measurable” people are the ones who get things done, and if following them around, clip board in hand, trying to make strides in efficiency in ways thatncan’t be quantified until a vote is traded, or a bill gets moved, or a press release needs facts… It’s not the same animal, and not everything can be seen as the same.


  33. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:02 pm:

    Sheesh! That obviously should have read:

    You don’t always need hands-on experience to meet an objective, Willy. While it certainly helps, lack of same doesn’t stop business and operational analyses from occurring, feasibilities from being studied, and changes being made (or not made).


  34. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:04 pm:

    =The General Assembly is not about operational analysis, maybe that is where you may be not understanding.=

    OK, Willy. I’m sure there are absolutely no similarities and there isn’t a single person on earth who can identify and possibly effect any efficiencies within the Legislature.

    You win; Voters (and possibly even Legislators who otherwise might have had and enjoyed an opportunity to become more efficient) lose.

    Congrats!


  35. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:07 pm:

    And Oberweis, a freshman, who is clueless as to what his secretary does, or how the secretaries DO what they do, shows such hubris for a 1st month freshman who, since winning his first governmental post, has been the one looking like a buffoon, not the staff and secretaries Oberweis thinks need the tweaking.


  36. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:14 pm:

    If I win, are you going to take your ball and go home and then kick me in the shins, or wouldn’t you like to explain where I am missing your points?

    The immeasurable way the secretaries and staff work to make the legislature and legislators work to get the business done is something a month old freshman can say is efficient or inefficient, and to understand you Springfield secretary and all she does is something you can’t get quoted about weeks into you first month and have credibility. All it shows isnsomeone more worried about who they think they are, and less about what the job the people electedmhim to do.

    Now, your turn. Heck, ask me a question, I will answer it directly too.


  37. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:29 pm:

    No sense in explaining anything over and over again to someone whose mind is closed, and/or–in this instance–seems to believe that secretaries are the only Stakeholders in this scenario, and/or can’t appreciate the benefits of various analyses and possibly, change (which is a frightening word to many).

    BTW, Willy, the secretaries who switched to the two or three-on-one one assignments wound up happier because their job satisfaction increased. Their roles became more focused on the things they liked to do, their contributions became–and were recognized more highly, and increases in salaries went up accordingly. Also, very few lost their jobs because more attorneys were hired.


  38. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:35 pm:

    =“model for efficiency”=

    And this is actually where the disconnect is, Willy. There is no single “model for efficiency,” but there are various business and operational models that are studied, analyzed, and applied (in whole or in part) to implement solutions based on the objectives of an organization. Every once in a while, the models that come from an entirely different profession, operation, etc. are most successful and unfortunately, were never considered earlier because they seemed so distinct.


  39. - Boone Logan Square - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:37 pm:

    Andy Kaufman did not die. He dressed up as a dairy tycoon and got elected.

    Dunno if it’s more dignified than wrestling women.


  40. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:39 pm:

    I you can’t use “your words” to explain, except to say I win, then I can’t imagine your argument about the General Assembly staff and Secretaries, according to senator Oberweis are inefficient and do 1/2 or 1/3 of the work that could and should be doing, after only BEING a senator for less than 2 months.

    Law firms, and running a living breathing legislative body, with constituents to answer, and legislators to work for, require a different set of eyes, and not the eyes of freshman, who has made missteps, instead of baby steps in learning how some things work. Instead, of trying to teach what what he Oberweis doesn’t know works or not, how about we learn the processes and see his secretary go through the last month of session before Oberweis determines how much work the secretary does, instead of embarrassingly guess what everyone does.


  41. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:41 pm:

    @Anonymous:

    You make one of the biggest mistakes that anybody from the private sector business world makes with government - that you can somehow compare the two. You can’t. That’s why business people in government frequently get a rude wake up call when they come in thinking things can operate like a business. And, I think if I were you I would quit while I was ahead as far as legislative staffing goes. You have no idea what you are talking about. Absolutely no understanding of what goes on. You can act all high and mighty with your business model talk but you just look ridiculous when you try to apply it to the legislature.


  42. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:44 pm:

    I see your response, my 2nd paragraph directly responds to you.

    Oberweis, today, he and his lack of operational and institutional knowledge makes him, Oberweis, the least qualified. Get through one, just one session, then talk to me about changes, and not calling out secretaries and staff as props.

    I appreciate your response, this is my reonse to your 2nd paragraph


  43. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:46 pm:

    Thank you for the feedback, Demoralized. Serious question: how much do you believe “culture” might play a role in this, which as a ridiculous business person, I certainly appreciate. In your experience, how much of a contributory factor do you feel culture may be–and if it’s high, I will agree that there is probably no chance of affecting any kind of change at all because there are some cultures that cannot, and sometimes even, should not change.


  44. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:50 pm:

    Sorry. That obviously should have read “In your experience, how HIGH of a contributory factor do you feel culture may be?”


  45. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:51 pm:

    - Demoralized -

    Well, well said.


  46. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:55 pm:

    And the reason that I’m asking that, Demoralized, is that I know that top executives and senior partners, for example, do not like “sharing” and in almost all cases, shouldn’t have to.


  47. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 1:58 pm:

    But then again, when pushed, they’ll look for operational efficiencies elsewhere because they obviously have goals that they need to meet as well. Which, in a twisted way, has brought us full circle and thus, back to the budget problem.


  48. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 2:03 pm:

    @Anonymous:

    It’s not an issue of sharing. At least I don’t think it is. I guess you could say it is cultural in that the legislature does have it’s own culture and way of doing things, like any organization does. The uniqueness of the legislature, however, is that the services their offices provides are so specialized to their districts that it would be nearly impossible to pass the work of multiple legislators onto one or two administrative staffers (if that is what we are talking about here). Plus, the secretaries are the first line of defense for legislators. People want to meet with members all of the time. I’m guessing if you had one admin for multiple legislators that he or she would spend their entire day fielding calls or dealing with walk-ins wanting to see a legislator. It’s just not feasible to share administrative staff. That’s just my opinion.


  49. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 2:08 pm:

    Thank you, Demoralized. I appreciate the thoughtful response. It was very helpful.

    Just one other question: How much of a role could factors like “patronage” and the focus on re-election play in efficiencies, including e.g., allocation of resources and qualifications for jobs?


  50. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 2:12 pm:

    And, the reason I’m asking that is that it seems that public perception COULD be (because of stories in the media) that government in general has shifted from a culture of being lead by “Great Administrators” to a time where we’re being lead by those who are merely concerned with their next election. That’s not to say that there was no patronage or focus on the next election during the time of our “Great Administrators.” The perception, which could be wrong is the level of focus applied to each of those areas.


  51. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 2:15 pm:

    - Anonymous -’

    how cool was that! You asked a question, and got a direct answer.

    Good for you! Maybe you can remember the courtesy, answering directly and all…


  52. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 2:17 pm:

    And just as an FYI, my “context” throughout this thread was not on secretaries or admin assistants. It was much broader in the sense that there may be room for improvement in all areas–and even in the “systems” area v. focusing solely on human resources.


  53. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 2:20 pm:

    I guess you could say it has to do with respect (hopefully mutual) more than anything else, Willy. Furthermore, Demoralized doesn’t “hound,” “stalk,” or “target” me (feel free to choose your verb), as you do.


  54. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 2:31 pm:

    Maybe instead of ignoring and ignoring direct question, you can earn some respect, and reading your back and forth shows quite clearly, your refusal to answer was more about your answer was, and not about not knowing how to give respect.

    Actually, your silence spoke volumes.

    To the post,

    If Oberweis’ intention was to make the inefficient, efficient, and not seeing how very specifically, like senator Oberweis was in singling out his own secretary, the secretary staff function, and further, it seems we all can see the GA is it’s own unique animal, how will Oberweis, effectively, know how all he thinks is wrong, is wrong?

    - Demoralized -,

    Great posts to the questions, especially, the constiuent services and Traffic Cop responsibilities.

    Sometimes its tougher to be the secretary, the good legislators know that.


  55. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 2:35 pm:

    I’m not interested in earning your respect, Willy. That ship sailed long ago–if it there ever was such a time.


  56. - Commonsense in Illinois - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 2:36 pm:

    Well, I think we have our first winner for next December’s award for best Senate Secretary - the person who has to put up with Mr. Oberweis. Maybe we should award it now…


  57. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 2:39 pm:

    Then I know, that I must be on the right path…


  58. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 2:45 pm:

    The secretary has my vote so far.

    Did Oberweis mean she can do 2 or 3 times the work, or did Oberweis mean that his secretary does not do enough work, and needs 2 or 3 times the work?

    Wait until session goes hours and days…


  59. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 2:53 pm:

    @Anonybous:

    I’m not sure I would use the word “patronage” when it comes to legislative staff. I’m sure there is a “reward” component to some of it vis-a-vis hiring the people that worked on your campaign and helped you get elected. But I personally wouldn’t expect anything else. If I’m a legislator I’m going to want somebody I know and presumably trust in my office doing things on my behalf.

    As for the re-election question, I don’t think the issue of administrative staff has much bearing on the process other than those people will presumably work on your campaign.

    Now, as to your other point that you didn’t mean for this to be limited to administrative staff (and possible not the the legislature only), then I would point out to you that the “efficiencies” you have discussed are already being implemented thoughout much of state government. I know of many agencies where admin staff does work for multiple people.

    I had to laugh a bit when you mentioned service areas, like human resources, as it pertains to people serving multiple areas. Let me tell you my experience with the Shared Services centers that exist for some state agencies. In a word: crappy. The individuals, though they may try hard, have no expertise in an agency for which they may be doing work. Rightly or wrongly state agencies are not cookie cutter. What happens in one is not necessarily the same as in another. Thee are specific circumstances that require specialized knowledge in some cases. You may have different federal rules that govern an agency. You may have different unions with different rules from agency to agency. The task is far more complex that simply bringing everything under one roof. Could it be done if it were done right? Sure it could. But a lot of changes would have to take place in government for it to work. And that isn’t likely to happen.

    If you worked in a law firm then you are familiar with the law I’m assuming. But I’m assuming in a law firm that the lawyers focus on specific areas of the practice. While that is true in government in terms of program areas, the general areas of fiscal, human resources, etc. have to focus on the entire agency. You may say, yes, but that is the same as in a law firm. Yes it is. What is not the same, however, are the 10 billion laws and rules specific to government that have to be followed, not to mention the federal laws and rules if you happen to get federal funds.

    Bottom line: there aren’t as many opportunities for creating efficiencies as you may think there should be.


  60. - walkinfool - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 2:55 pm:

    Anon: Legislators do share secretaries, certain types of communications processes are in fact centralized, secretaries also perform other functions that Obie might not yet know, operational analyses and productivity and efficiency metrics have in fact been implemented.

    Having been a senior corporate executive, as well as many years of operational management consulting, when I showed up in Springfield, I also thought that easy efficiencies might be available. I found out differently, at least for this unit.

    The key difference is that constituents will not put up with not talking directly to either their own legislator, or their legislator’s close staff — nor should they. It is a choice for slightly less efficient process, and better personal service. The load is certainly there, and legislators must be available to their own constituents.

    You might be well-prepared to discuss this issue, and your assumptions are reasonable prior to investigation, but if Obie said this after two weeks on the job, he has not been paying attention to the reality around him.

    And as you say, there might be other areas in government ripe for operational restructuring. Efforts to that end have been carried out at various times by some of the best private industry consultants in various state units, but in no way would I say that job is close to complete.


  61. - ANON45 - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 3:34 pm:

    Senator O should know it’s 2013 - They are now called Legislative Assistants. And Senator O has no idea that his Legislative Assistant is also the busy time keeper for the Senate Republican staff. Cutting a few low level Legislative Assistants will balance the budget??


  62. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 3:36 pm:

    =Having been a senior corporate executive, as well as many years of operational management consulting, when I showed up in Springfield, I also thought that easy efficiencies might be available. =

    Interesting. Did you find instead that the easy efficiencies were already implemented and/or that the change caused by new “stakeholders” coming and leaving due to elections made analyses, nailing down objectives and requirements, project planning and execution, etc. more difficult? Or, is staffing pretty constant and hence possibly only a bit more challenging than the private sector?


  63. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 3:41 pm:

    To simply my question: I guess I can envision the challenges at the district levels, but at the “state” level is there anything comparable to “enterprise analysis,” or do the variables shift too often and too quickly to even support same?


  64. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 3:45 pm:

    - Anonymous -,

    Go down and visit senator Oberweis during the last day for 3rd reading Senate Bills… Maybe you see all the secretaries getting all that dry cleaning, or maybe you will see the juggling of constituent services and legislative responsibilities and making sure you are comfortable as lobbyist vie for time with senator Oberweis, while the secretary finishes a press release and schedules an interview via email for senator Oberweis, and then makes sure to ask you….”Ice Cream, - Anonymous -?”

    Go and see the culture and all the great work those secretaries and staffers do. Apply those changes. See how much will be accomplished, because, frankly, they are miracle workers considing all they are “required to do”, less your dry cleaning snark.


  65. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 3:48 pm:

    ==or that the change caused by new “stakeholders” coming and leaving due to elections made analyses, nailing down objectives and requirements, project planning and execution, etc. more difficult? ==

    I would refer you to the state’s current endeavor of implementing a “Budgeting for Results” model as an example to answer that question. Trace back just 10 years and you will see that this concept in one form or another has been attempted at least 3 times only to eventually be relegated to the trash heap with some new twist on it picked up by the successor administration.


  66. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 3:49 pm:

    My “dry cleaning” comment was not snark. It was once a benefit afforded to higher-level executives, and rightfully so, regardless of who was doing it. I was merely stating that incoming associates usually came in with properly set expectations as to what they’d have during their first years v. later in their careers.

    Nice try, Willy.


  67. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 3:51 pm:

    ==at the “state” level is there anything comparable to “enterprise analysis,” ==

    Yep. Been done. Lots of times. But each new head honcho that comes in is going to wants things done their way and/or any changes that may have been made might get kicked to the curb because they get in the way of the new guys accomplishing whatever it is they want to accomplish. The rules are always changing.


  68. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 3:52 pm:

    =I would refer you to the state’s current endeavor of implementing a “Budgeting for Results” model as an example to answer that question. =

    Thank you, Demoralized, for citing a concrete example that can be reviewed and studied. I will defintely take a look at it!


  69. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 3:53 pm:

    =The rules are always changing.=

    That’s what I thought. Thank you, again.

    Do you have a read on how often recently-implemented solutions are “ripped out” by new “administrations”?


  70. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 3:55 pm:

    Sounds pretty elitist, since those secretaries you thought would be all about getting dry cleaning are ususally the most knowledgeable of the inter workings of the legislature, bail out their bosses more times then even they want to remember, and keep trains running on time… And you equate that to … perks… Of getting their dry cleaning.

    Maybe a visit to the the legislature would help more than remarking that you meant the the dry cleaning perks and efficiency in a law firm equal what happens during session.

    And while you are down, ask if the secretary can get your dry cleaning, you know, perks and all.


  71. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 4:00 pm:

    @Anonymous:

    No, I don’t. But it happens - a lot. I can tell you it would probably be easier to answer what WASN’T ripped out by the Blago administration versus what stayed intact. But that’s just one extreme example.


  72. - Little guy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 4:01 pm:

    So typical when the millionaire wants to
    Balance the budget on the backs of the working moms.
    Maybe his secretary can transfer his office phone to his cell number on
    Robo call day!!


  73. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 4:06 pm:

    =I can tell you it would probably be easier to answer what WASN’T ripped out by the Blago administration versus what stayed intact.=

    Interesting. I was going to ask whether that might be focusing on the wrong things until “they” got their “administrative roles” figured out (e.g., grounded in comfort zone based on past experiences), but when Blago’s name is mentioned, I’m wondering whether it was “ego” and “power” v. functioning (because it’s grounded in e.g., constituent services and hence, “portable” across administrations, including changes in Party control).

    Am I wrong in assuming there should be certain systems, methods, roles, etc. that are in fact “portable” even if the Ds take over (or vice verse)?


  74. - Demoralized - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 4:32 pm:

    ==Am I wrong in assuming there should be certain systems, methods, roles, etc. that are in fact “portable” even if the Ds take over (or vice verse)?==

    I’m not suggesting that everything changes. There are a lot of things that stay the same. But that’s not always a guarantee.

    Let me say one other thing and then I have to go. As much as things can change they also stay the same, and in a lot of those cases it’s because you couldn’t change them if you wanted to. Come work with the 3,000 year old state mainframe accounting system and see how much change and how many efficiencies you can get out of that monster.

    Also, you would be surprised at how much is actually MANDATED in state laws and rules. People are often surprised when they ask why things are done a certain way only to be told and shown that it’s done that way because it’s mandated. Going back to the conversation on figuring out ways to do things more efficiently or better, a lot of cogs in the wheel often have to be changed in order to get that one single change you may be looking for.

    Now that I’ve kind of contradicted myself on change vs. things not changing, I hope you still get my point.


  75. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 5:31 pm:

    =Now that I’ve kind of contradicted myself on change vs. things not changing, I hope you still get my point. =

    Demoralized, I think I do. I’ve worked in heavily-regulated environments and believe I might understand–at a minimum, empathize–with the types of challenges anyone dealing with legacy systems faces. Even more so, I’d like to believe that I have at least an awareness of the types of resources who are available and required to convert our legacy systems.


  76. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 6:15 pm:

    And…I also think you’re absolutely right about rude calls, Demoralized.


  77. - Anonymous - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 6:27 pm:

    =and/or any changes that may have been made might get kicked to the curb because they get in the way of the new guys accomplishing whatever it is they want to accomplish.=

    I might have a solution to that. :)


  78. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 7:46 pm:

    What is your solution?

    Enlighten us how your solution might stop that…


  79. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 7:57 pm:

    You know, - Anonymous -, maybe after you take the tour of what a legislative secretary needs to do to be more efficient, senator Oberweis can alienate more staff by telling them how things can get better with your solution, since you seem to be as clueless as Oberweis as to the responsibilities of the secretaries and the vital role they play.

    I have really enjoyed the business applications, as I am sure the staffs would, especially when knowing nothing about the legislature as an institution was remotely considered.

    I enjoyed it.


  80. - wishbone - Monday, Feb 11, 13 @ 9:16 pm:

    With all this wonderful help (which I concede) you would think these folks could get something done.


Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.


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