April 13, 2012

Criticism of a Public CAP

There is a very powerful interest group here in Washington that has attacked CSBG based on their perception of poor performance at a fairly large urban CAP organization. I spent some time visiting the CAP agency and their programs. I came away with a full understanding – a better understanding – of how a public agency works. This one in particular wants to be innovative, leverage additional resources, be involved with policy initiatives, and service their low-income community members. In talking with the directors at the CAP, I realized they had strategic plans to accomplish these goals. Unfortunately, they are working in a public agency where they are not able to implement this work. Their goals appear to be in conflict with some of the elected officials that want the agency to work as a sort of city bureaucracy that has a very limited scope. There is an impression that the agency serves as a place to keep friends and family members of city council members employed. 

As I met with agency directors and other key players though, I was impressed with the CAP  directors. They are waging a way behind the science that very few are aware of. They are waging a battle, with a goal of having more of a footprint in city poverty affairs, against those who do not want them to have it, against those who want to keep the CAP status quo. I realize this is a complicated situation. I wonder how many of our public agencies have those battles waging right now. 

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