Saturday, April 25, 2020

Michigan's Joint Select Committee on COVID-19 Pandemic (Res.No.20)-Learning Organization?

While Michigan's COVID-19 crisis isn't quite over but seems to be moving toward the end of a rampage and with hope it will dissipate into a moment in history. Resolution No.20 creates a committee to review what the state has done thus far and provide information and advise the legislative body of potential improvements. It is a little like reviewing a company's policies and procedures after a major change to see what worked and how it can be improved for next time. Learning organizations require feedback loops that lead to better policy making.

Concurrent Resolution No.20 is a way of improving our handling of the situation next time. Here is how...

During a crisis special powers are giving to people of authority to quickly handle those issues without having to go through a slower legislative process. One example is the Emergency Management Act in 1976. Such acts help to encourage quick coordination of resources and actions that may not have been possible in other situations. When we need quick action we can take it!

These powers are designed only for a certain amount of time while the crisis is in full swing and then powers will eventually move back to legislature. There were two Executives Orders given by Governor Whitmer (EO 2020-04 and EO 2020-33). Because these were of limited time on April 7th the Legislature extended these powers until April 30, 2020. That allowed for increased flexibility in dealing with a fluid and novel situation.

On April 24th, 2020 Concurrent Resolution No.20 created a bi-partisan Joint Select Committee that "shall examine the status and efficacy of governmental actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan." It will research and review actions within the State of Michigan that will provide further direction on how to deal with the current COVID-19 crisis and provide recommendations on how to improve responses should similar problems rear their ugly head in the future.

Such resolutions are important because they allow us to review and reflect on the actions taken to find better ways to deal with crisis in the future. When people are in frenzy they are doing everything they can to find a solution. Its hard to judge a crisis from hindsight but we can say there are always ways to improve. Thus, finding a legal mechanism for government to create policy improvements is helpful. Legislature will then take the information from that committee to enhance future decision making.

With such a learning system, and hopefully bipartisan opportunities for improvement, the State can learn and teach other states what they did for further adaptation in a way that improves the functioning of the entire country. Michigan was a state that was hard hit and has something to add to the national dialogue! According to Learning Organization Theory by Dr. Peter Senge from MIT  learning organizations with feedback mechanisms have five major components (Senge, 1990):

Systems Thinking: Method of thinking about measuring an organization and all of its components (bounded).

Personal Mastery: Helping people learn and develop in government and within the state for improved performance.

Mental Models: Challenging what people think so they can see new possibilities/opportunities and detect new threats.

Shared Vision: Creating a new vision that allows Democrats, Republicans, Independents and others to think about a new path forward.

Teamwork: Creating a culture of working together to solve problems.

What the main point is here is that we have an opportunity to learn, grow and adapt as a state, people and nation. If the goal is improvement of the entire state and then application to the rest of the country where it makes sense then such a committee will be very helpful. It can offer opportunities to adapt the entire system so that the next time this happens we are better prepared. I guess this depends on how people use and view the committee.

You can also read more about Organizational Learning Theory it HERE.



Speaker Chatfield offered the following concurrent resolution:

A concurrent resolution to create the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Whereas, It is the inherent responsibility of the Legislature to oversee the operations of the executive branch and ensure the effective implementation and operation of state government programs. The Michigan Legislature passed the Emergency Management Act in 1976 and other related laws to grant the Governor certain responsibilities for coping with dangers to this state and the people of this state presented by a disaster or emergency; and

Whereas, On March 10, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-04 declaring a state of emergency across the state of Michigan to address the COVID-19 pandemic; and

Whereas, On April 1, 2020, Governor Whitmer issued Executive Order 2020-33 to replace Executive Order 2020-04 and expand that initial March 10, 2020, declaration to include a state of disaster related to the COVID-19 pandemic; and

Whereas, On April 7, 2020, the Legislature extended the declared states of emergency and disaster until April 30, 2020; now, therefore, be it

Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That there be created the Joint Select Committee on the COVID-19 Pandemic. The joint select committee shall consist of five members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House, two from the House Democratic Caucus recommended by the House Minority Leader and three from the House Republican Caucus, and five members of the Senate appointed by the Senate Majority Leader, two from the Senate Democratic Caucus recommended by the Senate Minority Leader and three from the Senate Republican Caucus. The Speaker of the House shall designate the chairperson of the joint select committee, and the Senate Majority leader shall designate the vice chairperson; and be it further

Resolved, That, pursuant to MCL 4.541, the joint select committee may subpoena and have produced before it the records and files of any state department, board, institution or agency, and it shall be the duty of any state department, board, institution or agency to produce before the joint select committee as required by the subpoena, or permit the members of the committee to inspect its records and files; and be it further

Resolved, That the joint select committee shall examine the status and efficacy of governmental actions in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in Michigan. The joint select committee shall report to the Legislature a summary of its findings and conclusions, as well as any recommendations on further appropriate actions the Legislature may take to address the COVID-19 pandemic and to prevent or prepare for similar emergencies in the state.

Senge, Peter M. The Fifth Discipline : the Art and Practice of the Learning Organization. New York :Doubleday/Currency, 1990. Retrieved

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