Public Policy Forum Blog

Forum Announces 2014 Salute to Local Government Award Winners

A critical part of the mission of the 101-year-old Public Policy Forum is to monitor the performance of local governments and school districts and to offer our insights – whether solicited or not – when we perceive a need for improvement. 

A less widely known but equally important part of that mission, however,  is to recognize outstanding public sector performance when we see it.  That is why each year, for the past 22 years, we have conducted a Salute to Local Government awards program, which seeks to highlight outstanding work in courthouses, municipal buildings, and school administration offices throughout southeast Wisconsin.

The Salute not only is an opportunity to convince a skeptical public that such outstanding performance exists (and on a daily basis), but it also is our small way of preaching the importance of recruiting and retaining talented and hardworking individuals for careers in the public sector.  

Sadly, that task appears to be growing more difficult every day.  In fact, a survey conducted last summer by USA TODAY and the Bipartisan Policy Center reinforced the need for all citizens to be concerned about the quality of our elected leadership and public sector workforce.  

The nationwide poll of more than 1,000 adults found that young people under the age of 30 are far more interested in community service than in running for office or working for the government.   Overall, only about a quarter of 18- to 29-year-olds said they are extremely or very interested in working for the federal, state or local governments, and 14% were extremely or very interested in running for public office. 

So, when we gather on the morning of June 25 to honor our 2014 Salute winners – announced this morning – we will celebrate not only the accomplishments of a handful of honorees, but also the importance of maintaining a strong public sector workforce in general.

Indeed, the  beauty of the Salute is the opportunity it provides to put aside political differences for one morning and pay tribute to public sector accomplishment.  No matter how one plans to vote in the election for governor, or where one stands on public sector pay and benefits, this is our opportunity to agree that we all benefit from efficient government services, and that those who excel in their provision and administration deserve our recognition and praise.

To see details and sign up for this year’s Salute breakfast, click here.  A complete list of the 2014 Salute winners can be accessed here, and a media release with additional details here.

Rob Henken