How should government's professionals respond when they are told to slash spending with no regard for consequences? I retired in 2010 from a 38-year career in government. Over all those years, I never needed to contemplate, much less answer, that question. But when I talk with current public-sector practitioners, I am asked it almost as a matter of routine.
Anti-government sentiment is now so prevalent that it is commonplace for career government administrators to find themselves working for elected officials who disdain the longstanding and traditional idea, much less any process, of weighing the costs and benefits of government spending. These elected officials want to reduce the size and scope of government institutions as an end in itself. How should conscientious career professionals, who have dedicated their careers to obtaining benefits for the public from government spending, respond when they are directed to disregard what they have always striven to accomplish?