State Officials Should Make Decisions Without Consultants More Often

FILE PHOTO: Chancellor Mark Hagerott of the North Dakota University System. (Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald)

At times it can seem as though many of our state’s leaders are incapable of making any decision without a lengthy and expensive engagement of consultants.

Everything from hiring and firing decisions to branding efforts and new logos results in hundreds of thousands of dollars being doled out to a roster of consultants.

So it was a breath of fresh air when the State Board of Higher Education, making a decision to appoint a new President at Williston State College to replace Ray Nadolny who left that position abruptly last year, eschewed a lengthy and expensive search process and just hired internally.

When it comes to decision making in general, public leaders hiring consultants can seem like a dodge.

They picked the guy who was already doing the job.

“The board on Tuesday voted to appoint Miller rather than go through a traditional search process,” the Associated Press reports. “University System Chancellor Mark Hagerott says Miller has proven himself under difficult financial circumstances and deserves the job.”

The State Board of Higher Education should consider doing this more often. All departments of our state government should consider it.

When it comes to hiring, too often our state’s leaders get this idea in their head that they must hire a rock star. And that to find a rock star they must pay big money for a formal search process. But the problem with rock stars is that they often have big egos and are difficult to manage. Very often perfectly acceptable candidates are available for hire internally.

When it comes to decision making in general, public leaders hiring consultants can seem like a dodge. If leaders make a decision of their own volition they’re responsible for it. But if they make a decision based on the advice of some highly paid consultant they have some plausible deniability.

“It’s not our fault,” they can tell us if everything goes to pieces. “The consultant told us to do it.”

That’s not leadership.

Government leaders should lead, not pawn of decision making to others.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

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