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Public Sector Entrepreneurship III

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Marvin N. Pichla
April 21, 2023

“There are those who look at things the way they are and ask why…I dream of things that never were and ask why not?”

This quote from Robert F. Kennedy, the late United States Senator and past candidate for President of the United States, serves as a very appropriate introduction to this article discussing another segment of Public Sector Entrepreneurship III. Without question there are so many opportunities for innovation and creativity in the public service sector that unfortunately are not recognized nor given adequate support for greater impact. This Public Sector Entrepreneurship III article will therefore thoughtfully explain and offer unique suggestions on assisting different target audiences to step forward and pursue “dream things (programs and services) that never were” plus describe ideas on how to gain greater awareness of the fiscal and employment benefits that may result from their implementation.

Let’s start our public sector entrepreneurship development discussion with a focus on area high schools. If we did a poll to determine how many high schools have an organized educational component that focuses exclusively on public employment opportunities… what would we find? Are there direct discussions on public administration occupations and how their positions are critical for better, modern, “cool” cities and communities?

High schools retain an insightful opportunity to build a controlled, step-ladder approach to introducing a high-value locally-based learning component in the public sector entrepreneurial area. Consider youthful “think-tanks” that could work on entrepreneurship-style projects intended to improve public education, community services and/or even our different levels of government! Likewise think about an “I’ve Got A Better IDEA!” Challenge initiative that would create an annual open door for innovation exclusively for services and projects operating in the public sector. Engaging soon-to-be voters in an early way with the potential of making creative, unlimited service contributions has undeniable benefits.

I believe Bobby Kennedy would be most proud of the advancements made in the collegiate sector regarding entrepreneurship. Today there are courses of study and even degree areas specifically in the field of entrepreneurship. However, again if you review the different “schools of entrepreneurship learning”, the time and credit hours directly dedicated to public sector creativity advancements are small.

If we consider all of the public dollars “invested” in government operations, social services, public safety and workforce development doesn’t it make sense that we encourage, reward and maybe even mandate public sector entrepreneurial efforts? Wouldn’t it be unique to enroll in a course entitled: Entrepreneurship in Workforce Development or Public Safety? And in each course, participate in teachings that prioritize example-based actions taken in various public service sectors that have embraced innovation with successful results.

Lastly, let’s review the specialness given to entrepreneurship in the field of public administration. Does it happen? Yes! Is it reported, shared or rewarded as an operational standard? NO!

In my earlier Public Sector Entrepreneurship I & II articles, I briefly discussed the lack of attention given to entrepreneurship with regard to personnel practices. When I look at position postings for employment in the public service field, typically there is no mention of being “creative on the job” as a hiring or workplace conduct priority. Right? Likewise is being entrepreneurial a category of evaluation of those employed in the field of public administration? Yes, it is possible that being creative/innovative is mentioned during the course of conducting a personnel evaluation… but is it an established performance measurement category in anyone’s system?

“The purpose of life is to contribute in some way to make things better.” 

This article ending quote also comes from the late Senator Robert Kennedy and in the simplest of words recites the bottom line purpose of Public Sector Entrepreneurship. In the most subtle of ways he seems to indicate that it is our privilege, responsibility and even duty to continually look for options and opportunities that will extend the value of every public dollar and at the same time try and find greater purpose in each dollar spent.

As a career-long public official at primarily the highest of levels, I can only imagine Senator Kennedy’s (with the possibility of becoming President Kennedy) “dreams of things that never were” when he observed the creative potential embedded in each federal public office:

  • Secretary of Energy                        
  • Secretary of Education                  
  • Secretary of Veterans Affairs        
  • Secretary of Homeland Security  
  • Trade Representative                    
  • Director of National Intelligence   
  • Director of the Office of Management and Budget        
  • Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy                                 
  • Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency                        
  • Administrator of the Small Business Administration
  • Secretary of State
  • Secretary of the Treasury
  • Secretary of Defense
  • Secretary of the Interior
  • Attorney General
  • Secretary of Agriculture
  • Secretary of Commerce
  • Secretary of Labor
  • Secretary of Health and Human Services
  • Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
  • Secretary of Transportation

and then asking (again and again) WHY NOT?

Author: Marvin N. Pichla, Ph.D., is the owner and creative adviser of Inspiring Innovations, Inc. Sharing his unique entrepreneurship and innovation in public service experience, Marv consults with public and private business, education and community organizations to develop new and different problem-solving methods through real-life, example-based learning.

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