Department of Homeland Security

Freakonomics/SuperFreakonomics - Essential Books For Management

Action. That's what we need to do. Don't think about it. Just do it. Too often we, the government, jump in with both barrels blazing so that we can be seen as doing something. We measure things...just so that we can say we're measuring. It seems we don't stop to think about the consequences/results of our activities.

 

This is true for all government activities, large and small.

 

Examples:

 

What is the result of drug laws: Increased costs for law enforcement, prisons, etc... as well as overwhelming social costs as well. They don't work. Period.

 

How do you measure success in vessel safety regulations? Easy USCG measures include things like measuring the number of deficiencies recorded or the number/dollar value of penalties issued. Neither is meaningful. Does saying that you wrote up more people in one year than the previous mean that the waters are safer? No, it doesn't, but having people spend lots of time to gather statistics for useless measures does cost us money. Before ANY measurement is decided, it needs to be demonstrated how/why it is relevant to the success goal you're trying to achieve. "We boarded 100% of the towing vessels" doesn't mean anything. Neither does, "We looked at 100% of the boarding passes at the airport. (because if you didn't verify that you were doing it correctly someone's going to go by with someone else's boarding pass).

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Idea No. 2361