In response to what organizers at the Oakland-based Martin Luther King Freedom Center, Institute for Community Leadership say is a broken public service system in the Bay Area, at least 55 professionals from government and municipal institutions will convene this week in Oakland and explore ways to make public institutions more efficient and accessible.
The two-day seminar, to be hosted at Meritt College, will explore ways of engaging Bay Area public service providers in problem-solving, loosening the limitations of bureaucratic systems and making their institutions more accessible to the public. The seminar will include participants from Bay Area municipal police agencies, hospitals, transportation agencies and school districts, among other public institutions.
“We are dealing with the urgency resulting from recent budget cuts,” said Roy Wilson, the center’s director, who will be one of the presenters at the seminar. “Our public service system is broken and public employees are attempting to find ways in which they can make their service meaningful.
Professor Alton Jelks, who teaches public administration at California State University East Bay and will present at the conference, said the state of public service in the Bay Area is in dire need of reform because it has failed to respond to changing public needs. “Bureaucratic thinking is one-sided,” Jelks said, “Why do we use the same model to operate government that Ford and Chevy use to make cars? In public service, we are dealing with critical, lifesaving and quality of life issues and there is a need to be more innovative.”
Jelkes, who has taught public administration for 25 years, said there was a need for agencies to find better ways of serving the community and to rely less on rigid bureaucratic systems, which stifle creative thinking.
“We would like to find ways to improve the quality of dialogue among public employees and open up bureaucratic systems,” Jelks said. “I have been teaching public administration for quite a long time and believe that there is need to find new ways to think and engage public employees more directly in problem solving.”
The seminar begins Wednesday, June 27 and ends Friday, June 29. The seminar will be held at Meritt College, at 12500 Campus Drive, Oakland. More information about the Public Service Meaningful seminar can be found here.