16 August 2006

It's the outcomes, stupid

Incentives for distant goals, like the ending of terrorism, can take years to work, so I've steered clear from commenting on the short-termist approaches followed nowadays. In an important sense, we've already failed when we've got to where we are today. Even now, though, there would be far better ways of doing it than the one mentioned on theDenverchannel.com:

Marshals: Innocent People Placed On 'Watch List' To Meet Quota
Marshals Say They Must File One Surveillance Detection Report, Or SDR, Per Month

DENVER -- You could be on a secret government database or watch list for simply taking a picture on an airplane. Some federal air marshals say they're reporting your actions to meet a quota, even though some top officials deny it. The air marshals, whose identities are being concealed, told 7NEWS that they're required to submit at least one report a month. If they don't, there's no raise, no bonus, no awards and no special assignments.

This is the antithesis of the outcomes-based approach that I advocate. It attempts to convert fighting terror into a civil service type activity, with boxes to be ticked, norms to be met, procedures to be followed - and who cares what actually happens? What is needed, and quite desperately, is a system that rewards people and institutions not for turning up to work, but for achieving results: in this case prevention of terrorist acts. It's the outcomes, stupid.

1 comment:

Harald Korneliussen said...

Yes, this is a prime example of misguided attempts to reward/punish people based on "outputs". It's really amazing if people can be so stupid today. I mean, that Stalin arranged his purges that way should perhaps give us a hint that it isn't very smart, or very morally acceptable?