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Monday, April 7, 2008

How about a management audit?

We just passed the one-year anniversary of the day (April 5, 2007) when three top deputies and one administrator at the office of then-U.S. Attorney Rachel Paulose stepped down from their leadership posts in protest of her management style. It's an interesting milestone to reach as we await the results of a preliminary investigation by the legislative auditor into what's going on at the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, where similar issues regarding management style have been raised.

Of course, that's not what the auditor is looking into. His investigation is limited to determining whether there is any basis to allegations that AG Lori Swanson committed any ethical or legal lapses in how she has run the office. The narrow focus was designed to show respect for the wide discretion public officials -- particularly elected ones -- are afforded in managing their own offices.

Because the standard for ethical and legal violations is fairly high, it is not an unlikely result that the auditor will find that none exist. If that happens, it would be taken by some as a "clean bill of health" for the AG's Office, even though the underlying management-related concerns would continue to fester. That is unfortunate.

If I had my druthers, there would be a managerial boot camp or some sort of roving advisor who could counsel people such as Swanson or Paulose who, depite their intelligence and work ethic, run into difficulties managing a major public office. It's easy when you're locked into a combative management situation to lose sight of the forest for the trees. An outside perspective would be very helpful.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Mark, in light of the legislative auditor's investigation, any word on whether the AG is still planning to have Thomas Mengler conduct an "independent review"?