Leadership in the Public Sector
Leadership in the Public Sector Misha R Glassel BPA 406 Joseph Catrucco University of Phoenix August 17, 2009 Abstract Public leadership is difficult to define in general terms as there are so many characteristics that are needed in order to be successful. The general public relies on leaders to administer programs that are beneficial to the public that anyone can apply for or use and usually are non-profit such as Medicaid/Medicare. Private sector organizations also have leaders to administer products or services that are for profit such as Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance.
Both public and private sector organizations have leaders to set policies and administer programs; however both types of leaders operate differently and under different pretenses. In defining public leadership, private leadership must be examined in order to fully grasp the broad spectrum of characteristics needed to be an efficient and effective public leader. Leadership in the Public Sector Public sector organizations are varied in type of service provided and vary in monetary value. In the public sector, programs such as Medicaid, Child Support Enforcement and Drivers Services are offered.
These programs are administered by the government and public funds such as tax dollars are used to fund the resources of the program. Because most public services are offered at no charge and are non-profit, they must have policies and eligibility factors placed to determine what qualifies a person or family for a program. Public leaders such as governors and legislators are responsible for setting these policies and procedures. Private sector organizations such as Blue Cross Blue Shield Insurance offer their services for a fee.
Consumers have eligibility requirements and the types of services they receive are based on how much the consumer wants to pay for each individual service. For example, a private policy could include medical only and if the consumer wanted to pay more they could include dental and/or vision for an additional fee. Whereas in the public sector, consumers are offered a blanketed service plan for medical, vision, and dental at no or low cost for all three services based on the family’s size and household income.
Although both organizations offer the same kind of service, they are administered and funded quite differently. Organizations in the private sector often rely on funds they accrue from the services they provide while public sector organizations must adhere to a budget set in place by a public leader that had to specifically outline and approve funds or resources for each agency under the governor. Private sector leaders have to outline specific budgets for each department as well, but how well they are able operate or sustain efficiency is dependent on how much of their service they are able to sell.
Profitable organizations can simply downsize when economic measures stunt progress and sales, public services cannot simply be downsized due to the amount of taxes that are collected for specific programs each fiscal year. Leaders for both the public and private sectors rely on the needs of the general public to survive. If the needs of the general public are not met, the economy of the community fails. In defining public leadership it is crucial that each service is carefully examined each year for efficiency and effectiveness.
For example, the All Kids Program is a public service that offers low or no cost health insurance to families in Illinois based on where the family lives according to the Federal Poverty Limit (FPL). The Department of Healthcare and Family Services administers this program under the governor. Adults and children are eligible up to 185% of the FPL for programs such as Medicaid, the Share Program, and Premium Level 1. Only children are eligible for Premium Level 2-8 with a household income above 185% of the FPL.
Premiums collected from Premium Level programs 1-8 are used to pay the providers that accept the program for the services they provided. Public leaders such as Governor Quinn of Illinois is responsible for setting policies such as adult eligibility and how much a family will pay for the service based on their standings of the FPL. Private sector leaders also have to set policies and guidelines for their services, however, in setting their policies they do not have to base them off of the personal circumstances of the consumer purchasing the service. The profits ccumulated are used to fund the resources of the service being provided and the overall running of the company. Private sector organizations rely on their consumers to continue to operate. When consumers stop buying the services the company goes out of business. In the public sector, when consumers stop utilizing services the program is eliminated and excess funds are swept into to another program. Public services are much more detrimental for the general public some areas than the private sector services. Families living in poverty obviously cannot afford to pay for the high cost of some private sector services such as health insurance.
While it is unlikely an organization such as Blue Cross Blue Shield would go out of business, if it did, it would not harm society and the general public as badly as it would if the Medicaid Program was cut. Both Blue Cross Blue Shield and Medicaid are nationally utilized services, however, Medicaid is a is necessity for some families that they cannot do without because they do not qualify medically for private insurance such as Blue Cross Blue Shield. No family should have to live without health insurance making both organizations needed, but private organizations are more disposable.
Public services operate under different circumstances and programs cannot just be eliminated or go “out of business. ” Once a family or person has been approved for a program it cannot just be taken away. Budgets are scrutinized down to the last penny in order to guarantee eligibility and availability of some programs and services. While some benefits can be exhausted and no longer available due to underestimating demand, they cannot just be cut. Private sector organizations can go out of business for any reason at any time and the service is simply gone.
Conclusion Public leadership can be defined in very broad terms as the ability to lead groups of people that share a common goal or interest. In more specific terms, public leaders are defined by their actions and abilities to lead others in accomplishing a goal or interest in for the benefit of the general public. Monetary values should not influence the actions of a public leader due to fact that they have to use the money of the public taxpayers to administer those services. Public leaders must keep and maintain the best interest of the public without bias.
Leaders in the private sector should operate in the same fashion, but because they deal with funds that are collected in order to make the business run and not other people’s money, they are not under as much scrutiny. Leaders in the public sector appear to harbor higher levels of responsibility with less accountability while leaders in the private sector harbor the opposite. In closing, public leadership cannot simply be defined. The many characteristics of a public leader are very deep rooted and require a great deal of observation and evaluation in order to determine their success.