All the hoopla about needs for better regulation after the oil spill in the gulf brings to mind that some of the best people to help regulate such an industry are those from that industry, if they could be hired away and put on the regulators’ payrolls. But there are problematic logjams to hiring these people, which really need to be overcome.
Many people who have been in an industry like the oil drillers know a lot about opportunities for improvement in many areas. These areas include plain-vanilla enforcement of current regulations, as well as where the loopholes are that need closing.
Why can’t government hire these people? Various reasons. If you’ve been working for an industry for 20 years, and you might want to go over to the government side to improve your salary, help clean things up, etc., there are serious impediments put in the way by the human resources bureaucrats, among others. One example: the human resources bureaucrats don’t usually want to go to the trouble of making possible retention of seniority for vacation-time. So, if you are 45 or 50 years old, with lots of seniority in your company, but a yen to take your knowledge over to the regulatory side, you are told that you’ll have to start over at 10 days of vacation a year. A negative incentive if there ever was one.
Now, my reading indicates that, human resources bureaucrat’s protestations to the contrary, it is possible to move to a government position and retain such seniority. But it’s a difficult roe to hoe when they usually are ignorant of this factor and how to go about making it happen. It’s far easier for them to just hire someone from within government, which is fine as far as it goes, but obviates the opportunity of bringing in experienced people with useful perspectives from the side of those who are regulated.
Salary and retirement benefits are other considerations. We could save an awful lot of money by hiring these people at a first-rate salary indicative of many years of experience, while helping them retain their retirement benefits as well as vacation time.
Of course, when it comes to the highest echelons of government, nobody gives up any seniority or benefits at all. Thus, cabinet members and agency heads are treated well in this regard. But that is the exception. We need to extend these benefit retention factors to people in lower echelons, as well, as a means of improving the environment.