A Different Kind of Civil-Service Organization

from The Atlantic

The U.S. national government is failing in its response to the pandemic. One recent example: A month ago, on March 20, the United States and South Korea had about the same number of coronavirus deaths: nearly 100 in South Korea, versus somewhere over 200 in the U.S. Since South Korea has a much smaller population—about 50 million, versus more than 300 million for the U.S.—its per capita death rate was actually much higher. One month later, South Korea’s death total had risen to only 236—while that in the U.S. was rising quickly past 40,000. With adjustments for population size, the current U.S. death rate is more than 25 times higher than South Korea’s.

Out of necessity, the rest of the nation is trying to take up the slack. Governors, mayors, nurses and doctors, hospital administrators, teachers and students, business owners and employees, civil servants and trash collectors and bus drivers and delivery people and grocery workers—these and tens of millions of others have taken the operations of America onto their shoulders.

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4 Responses to A Different Kind of Civil-Service Organization

  1. John McKenna May 1, 2020 at 11:30 am #

    Many have criticized how the United States was, is, and planning handling the coronavirus pandemic. The lengthy indecision to close the country, coupled with the fact they are relatively weak in enforcing it means that the infection rate skyrocketed as people ignored the threat. Many distrust the government already, and they don’t listen to much of the vague information the White House was releasing. Because of the lacking support from the federal government, state and local governments have the pressure of dealing with the stress from huge areas. Governor Cuomo has been asking President Trump to send more aide as the state can not afford the resources it needs for the pandemic. Many companies and individuals have had to adapt to survive in this unprecedented time. Companies are shifting to new platforms for the first time, and the change can be very difficult to make in a timely fashion. But many companies are also taking this time to make advancements for the first time; the unprecedented nature of this emergency leads to never before seen problems that need solutions. One such company is FUSE, which is working not only to get people back to work, but working on projects to help communities around them. This company aims to take people from their work environments and, based on their work skills and what their desire to do is, they will place them in workplaces they want to be in. This takes a whole new approach to employment, which is normally the case of I tell you what to do, and you do it, regardless of if you want to or not. In this scenario, workers are being put where they want to be, doing things they want to do in order to serve their communities. These types of efforts try to help make the world a better place, and in a time like this, their work can be greatly appreciated. Now FUSE is working with hospitals to ensure food and supplies are being delivered wherever it is needed, and aiding in restructuring many areas greatly effected by the pandemic and economic hardships.

  2. Connor Strack May 1, 2020 at 5:32 pm #

    While many seem to disagree with the idea that the government has failed in its handling of the Coronavirus, the accelerated infection rate and disproportionately disastrous effects on our country would say otherwise. The statistic regarding a comparison of South Korea and United States death toll was particularly shocking. When we note the amount of deaths skyrocketing to over 40,000 in the U.S but only rising to about 236 in South Korea from the same starting point, the lack of responsibility and planning is extremely obvious and equally as disappointing. I agree with the ideas presented in this article that there is an admirable amount of effort coming out of a local and state level, rather than from our white house. Seeing the efforts of local government and businesses to protect the general public and end the spread of the virus as quickly as they can has been reassuring that we are equipped to deal with outbreaks like this. This will also help out these businesses in the long run, considering they are equipping themselves with the tools necessary for success in a technological age. The article even quotes libraries, a posterchild for an out of touch business model, are making sincere efforts to expand virtual reach and appeal to a massive number of people through the internet rather than just the local population. Adaption is a key skill for people to develop as they navigate through this new type of economy, and businesses which are utilizing their adaptive skill are doing considerably better than others during this time. A record unemployment and a stagnant economy has made job searching a near impossible experience to the approx. 12 percent of Americans who are suddenly without a steady source of income. Thats why companies that bridge the gap between job searchers and potential employers are incredibly valuable. This also ties into the new work culture that we discussed in the disruption lecture in class. An environment where people are contracted for their skill sets is already showing promise and will help communities deal with their problems in a much more efficient and low cost way than the conventional models we have seen.

  3. Kevin Orcutt May 1, 2020 at 8:09 pm #

    I am disappointed by this article from reading the first sentence. This was a terrible way of starting an article which otherwise should be about an organization that is trying to help in times of need. By starting it off this way, you are already outing half of your audience that does not have the same opinion on that subject that the author does. “The National government is failing in its response to the pandemic” is not only highly opiniated, but false. This article tries to use death tolls as a way to back up their argument, but any logical person would understand that the country is using as an example is terrible. South Korea is nothing compared to the amount of people in the United States and with countless people pointing out how just one person can have a cumulative affect of infecting an enormous amount of people, obviously our death toll is going to increase faster than theirs. The same people that are writing this article saying that we did not act fast enough or well enough, are the people that slammed the government for saying they acted too soon in trying to prevent this. This is the problem with our media today, unless you know how to call out the downright bullshit, they spew at you, you are going to become another mindless sheep in the flock. In getting to the relevant topic that should have been discussed in the articles first sentence instead of pushing an agenda, I think FUSE is a great idea. An increasing amount of people are in need and if you want to help those kinds of numbers, you need an increasing amount of help. By more and more of organizations like this starting, I think we can start to see a real change in morale across the United States. People being kind to one another because the genuinely care has been something everyone has been missing for a long time. Everyone, no matter who you are, now has a topic in which we all relate on at a personally level and can connect with each other. These groups are going to hopefully bring the country together on a united front against a silent killer.

  4. Rajat Sinha June 5, 2020 at 4:45 pm #

    As the coronavirus pandemic continues to ravage the United States the nation is struggling to survive. In terms of comparable statistics: “…on March 20, the United States and South Korea had about the same number of coronavirus deaths: nearly 100 in South Korea versus somewhere over 200 in the U.S.”. However, the death toll had risen one month later as: “…South Korea’s death toll had risen to only 236-while that in the U.S. was rising quickly past 40,000”. These numbers prove that the United States federal government has been highly uncoordinated in its response to the coronavirus pandemic. This leaves mostly smaller state governments to pick up the pieces in helping their communities during the pandemic. While most states have an adequate healthcare budget gained from large amounts of taxpayer money, most are woefully unprepared to combat the effects of the coronavirus pandemic. This is where non-profit organizations and charities have stepped in to fill the demand for supplying adequate resources in this situation. More Americans are volunteering their services in a largely-expanding network of people and resources to adapt to what most people need during this pandemic. Civil service organizations such as: FUSE Corps and Innovation Collective are working tirelessly in: “…matching business operations with efforts from government and nonprofit groups”. In short, these non-profit civil-service organizations are assisting the federal government in their continued adaptive response model to the coronavirus pandemic that utilizes a growing network of community volunteers and resources to assist others in this situation. And while tremendous efforts have been made by the federal government to fight the coronavirus pandemic, there is still some room for improvement in what can be done overall about the current situation. Essentially, in order for the United States federal government to create a proper response to the coronavirus pandemic, this model of non-profit civil service organizations should be followed based on their successes in providing essential services to the American public and the possible utilization of their services in helping smaller communities across America on a larger scale in being prepared to act accordingly for the next steps in the upcoming federal response to the situation.

    Initially, one reason why the United States should base their coronavirus response model off of the actions taken by non-profit organizations is because of their capability to help smaller communities across America on a larger scale by acting as a medium of communication for the federal government to utilize for the purpose of preparing the American public for what may come next in the steps to combat the coronavirus pandemic. In an effort to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, the federal government of the United States of America has advised all of its citizens to socially distance and stay inside their homes. While this approach has helped many citizens stay safe from the effects of the virus, there are some who are less fortunate without shelter who are at extreme risk of contracting the virus. In order to resolve this issue, experts from Harvard Kennedy School, a college within the grounds of the prestigious Harvard University, like Mark Harvey, who was former special assistant to the United States President and senior director for resilience policy on the National Security Council, has recommended that: “The United States should work with critical infrastructure owners and operators to understand stressors on their systems and functions to use other authorities…to mitigate critical supply and service disruptions.” This solution reminds the United States federal government that it should focus on strengthening its infrastructure to improve communication between all parties during the pandemic. Furthermore, the United States federal government should increase funding for essential industries like: hospitals and pharmacies during this time to improve the greater response to the pandemic. Although, this solution focuses on the problem of communication between the federal government and the citizens of America, there is one more party that should be involved, the non-profit organizations and charities. For as Mark Harvey, experienced political expert at Harvard Kennedy School, has stated: “Beyond direct research and medical support, government can also provide productive outlets for public concern… Recruiting and training members of community emergency response teams to support public health preparedness measures can help neighborhoods understand mitigation measures while better preparing them for more restrictive mitigation actions.” While not an agency directly under control of the federal government such as: The United States Department of Health and Human Services or The Food and Drug Administration, the federal government can still utilize the resources of theses non-profit organizations to help combat the coronavirus pandemic. These non-profits such as FUSE Corps, headquartered in San Francisco and Boston, help with efforts to combat the effects of the coronavirus pandemic by: “…restructuring hospitals to prepare for an influx of critical patients; ensuring food delivery to the elderly who have been ordered to stay inside; providing temporary housing to clear densely populated homeless encampments…and much more”. This organization has been taking an encompassing community approach to helping those directly as well as those indirectly effected by this pandemic. It should be mentioned that the federal government has been making progress in passing new legislation to combat the coronavirus. This new legislation includes such acts like the CARES Act, an act passed by Congress that aims to relieve those who have been unemployed by the current pandemic to both support the United States economy as well as the welfare of the American people. However, this only delays the long-term effects of the pandemic into the next year or so. For as the federal deficit increases with more and more money being put into the economy to combat the pandemic, there is more of a chance of the possibility of another long-term economic recession occurring. Therefore, the federal government should not underestimate the potential of the network of non-profit organizations to supply assistance to smaller communities during the pandemic as well as act as a method of transparent communication between the U.S. federal government and its people during this particular time.

    Consequently, the aforementioned potential of these non-profit organizations to both assist in fortifying the U.S. federal infrastructure as well as assist in providing resources to less-fortunate American people comes from the fact that these organizations have proven their merit by their own hand. Specifically, these non-profit organizations have proven the successes of their approach through fulfilling the essential role of the temporarily shut-down global supply chains in providing a more comprehensive distribution of supplies and resources to the largely impoverished and inhibited American public. In an article titled, “Non-Profit Funding In the Age of Coronavirus”, published in the renown academic journal known as The Harvard Business Review author Alan Cantor remarks: “As the country deals with ever-greater personal loss and stress, charitable organizations can no longer do business as usual… All of us will need help, and all of us will need to do our best to provide help to others.” This statement displays the unique circumstances that American society is under at this time. Non-profit organizations and charities are now having to pitch in to help in the greater response to the coronavirus pandemic. As mentioned before, while the federal government is doing its best to assist with the pandemic by printing more money and increasing the federal deficit on new legislation to benefit essential industries in the economy, there is still a greater need for assistance needed on the community front of the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. That is where non-profit organizations have stepped in to fill this role. Non-profit organizations such as: FUSE Corps, Nation Swell, and more have stepped in to provide assistance in emergencies such as: “…shifting resources to help cities deal with their crises in health care, homelessness, food bank, small-business survival, domestic violence, and other areas.” These organizations are doing this work out of their own volition to assist these communities by their own methods. These organizations are not working for public recognition and acclaim. They are working for the benefit of these impoverished and inhibited American communities. By acting as a “middleman” to bring essential supplies like: food, shelter, water, and fresh clothes to the homeless or providing care to the elderly in nursing homes (which may have limited staff in regards to risk of spreading coronavirus to those highly susceptible), these non-profits are functioning as a separate branch of government in the response to the coronavirus. It is worth noting that these community needs should not being ignored for in regards to the overall response to the pandemic. At the Harvard Kennedy School experts in the fields of public policy and organizational management, Arnold M. Howitt and George F. Baker Jr., both respectfully state that: “Caring for people in the home setting will require logistical support as well, and this also needs to be thought of as part of the healthcare system…”. Both experts also recommend that: “Support can be mobilized from the public sector (e.g., National Guard units), the social sector (Visiting Nurses Associations and organizations like Meals on Wheels), from community organizations (churches, Rotary Clubs, …), and from community volunteers”. In short, community outreach programs and support for those directly and indirectly affected by the coronavirus pandemic should not be ignored in the role they play in society. In preparing for a larger federal response in boosting the performance of both the public and private sectors of the of the economy, voluntary organizations should be utilized in providing resources and supplies to those that cannot be reached by this aid. Thus, expanding the scope of the overall response in combatting the current pandemic and possibly moving the United States closer and closer to some semblance of normalcy during this time.

    In conclusion, as U.S. federal efforts to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic vary in success, the model of non-profit organizations has shown some promise in combatting the virus. Non-profit organizations and charities have shown their worth in assisting less-fortunate populations with essential supplies and resources during this time. These organizations also proved their capabilities in acting as a support for smaller communities during this difficult time by acting as a method of communication for the federal government to notify the American public of the proceeding actions in this current situation. With all of the data from these non-profit organizations at hand, one should hope that the federal government is analyzing these trends and creating a new model of their greater response to the coronavirus pandemic.

    My Sources:

    -https://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2020/04/different-kind-civil-service-nonprofit/610255/

    -https://hbr.org/2020/04/nonprofit-fundraising-in-the-age-of-coronavirus

    -https://www.hks.harvard.edu/faculty-research/policy-topics/health/how-public-sector-and-civil-society-can-respond-coronavirus

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