By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

Don Imus and government procurement

Don Imus was an accident waiting to happen. When you specialize in "shock" -- coarse language and contempt for others -- it's only a matter of time before you go over the edge. What is unfortunate is that Imus represents a central trend in our culture, where the virtues of respect for others, dialogue, and tolerance often seem to be in short supply, not the least in politics.

How does this relate to government procurement issues, of all things? Procurement, and public management issues more broadly, are so boring and technical for most people that they would seem to be an ideal arena for thoughtful, respectful dialogue about how to serve the public interest better.

That's the problem, in a sense. Procurement, and again public management more broadly, is so dull that, in a culture where respectful dialogue is not, well, respected, the only way these issues can get any attention at all is to engage in the policy equivalent of the Imus shock jock treatment. Unless you can scream about "wastefraudandabuse" (I write these as one word consciously, because, since the phrase was popularized by conservative Republicans in the '80s, they are generally pronounced as if they were one word) or cronies or some other titillating phrase, you don't seem to be able to get any attention. This is no more good for government procurement, or government management, than is Don Imus good for a dialogue about race and diversity.

Posted by Steve Kelman on Apr 17, 2007 at 12:08 PM


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