December 22, 2014 01:55 PM
By Ron Littlefield, Former mayor of Chattanooga, Tenn., & senior fellow with the Governing Institute
Innovation - also known as change - does not often come easily or naturally to governments. Many times, the stereotypes of slow-moving bureaucracies are not exaggerations.
Of course, change can be difficult for anyone, but in my experience, outdated systems, policies and procedures tend to hang around far longer in governments. In some cases this is due to insufficient funding for modern equipment and training; in other cases it's simply because employees resist the new and unfamiliar.
Some years back I remember reviewing specifications for the purchase of a new public works bulldozer. I called the equipment supervisor and asked why he had listed "mechanical drive" as a specification. He replied that this is what the department had always had and what they knew how to operate. I had to inform him that such machines were no longer in production and all new bulldozers were hydraulic drive. Only then was he willing to accept change.