Tuesday, January 31, 2012 1:09 PM
Treating Reduced Revenues with Brass Tacks
I spent the week before last at SWANA’s Senior Executive Seminar in Miami, FL, in which attendees were asked to lay bare what waste-related problems caused them to lose sleep at night. No surprise that the principal concern had to do with reduced (or segmented) revenues relative to high program costs, many of which were based on unfunded mandates initiated by political and regulatory agencies. It was then up to breakout groups to focus attention on this along with several other concerns.
While the subsequent discussions shed light on the fiscal situation and led to some valuable suggestions, among them was not (or at least I never heard tell of) any question as to the value and/or effectiveness of many of the ancillary—and often locally subsidized—programs that have grown into veritable sinecures over the last couple of decades.
Going back to square one, the public sector’s irreducible role in the waste arena is the maintenance of public health and safety, not—as other august bodies might have it—bulldozing stuff in the ground or shipping it into some other great bye-and-bye. So what does this suggest?
Now I may not be the sharpest tack in the box, but I’m not idiotic enough to presume to comment on what programs you should or should not support. But for you it’s a different matter, since in order to get down to brass tacks you need first to question what of your elective programs are truly valuable before you can address how effective they are in meeting your expectations. This may not provide surcease from your problems, but at least it can help you develop an expendability index.
As for those mandated activities with marginal returns, maybe now is the time to bring to the attention of their authors the costs of compliance relative to the benefits involved. Who knows—maybe you’ll be blindsided by success. Really? No, but the thought might make you smile.