Accountability (Published Prov. Journal 12/21/16)


By now you’ve probably seen one of the large,blue Rhode Works signs placed near several infrastructure projects in Rhode Island. They use stop light colors to tell the public how close the repairs are in two categories; budgets and completion deadlines. A green circle means all is fine, a yellow means a slight overage of money spent or work days required, while a red circle signals something has gone seriously wrong. The hope is that such visible monitoring will get contractors awarded these lucrative contracts to do their absolute best to honor their part of the bargain. The goal is accountability.

Wouldn’t it be wise, and certainly very entertaining, if we could apply this accountability system to other public sectors which affect our daily lives?

Imagine such signs posted just outside the entryways to our Rhode Island House and Senate chambers. Picture the consternation of the members of these august bodies if red circles were seen next to such items as; ethics reform, dismantling legislative grants, line item vetoes, budget adherence and other items which a majority of citizens have long clamored for.

On a more prosaic, but still important, level it might be eye-opening if such standards could be applied to the hard working, ever expanding, weather forecasting teams of our local news stations. If their predicted ‘NorEaster deflates to a few snow showers in Foster-Gloucester there’s a red circle attached to their green screens for the following days broadcast. While this may seem harsh, any entities which describe themselves as “pinpoint” and “accu” weather are just inviting scrutiny.

Hopefully one added advantage of this accountability monitoring would be the simple lesson to people and organizations to stop the practice of using improbable, over inflated promises to gain attention and approval.

The recently completed election cycle provides stunningly clear examples of the use of hyperbole with various candidates promising to; provide free college tuition for everyone, deport eleven million people and, even, put an opponent in jail. Then at a post election victory rally the new President – Elect, went so far to admit to his followers that the promised jailing, “…just sounded good before the election.” !

So much for accountability.
In 1978 as a fledgling sales representative I had a first time meeting in the office of the owner of a small, family business. On his desk was a typical wood base name plate with his name in brass lettering, “Bob Poirier, Sr.”. On a shelf behind him was another name plate which read, “JDWYSYWD”. About a year after this meeting, having formed a solid business relationship with him, I finally asked what “JDWYSYWD” meant.

He replied, “Just Do What You Said You Would Do.”

I have never heard a better description of accountability.

My goal in writing this Commentary was to encourage, companies, organizations, politicians and ordinary people to consider their utterances, live up to their words and honor their promises. I think my mid article transition was a little fuzzy, so I’m assigning myself a yellow circle.

I still have some work to do.

– END –


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