Archive for the ‘management’ Category

Mitt Romney Says: Let Detroit Go Bankrupt

November 19, 2008

IF General Motors, Ford and Chrysler get the bailout that their chief executives asked for yesterday, you can kiss the American automotive industry goodbye. It won’t go overnight, but its demise will be virtually guaranteed.

Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.

Published by The New York Times
November 19, 2008

I love cars, American cars. I was born in Detroit, the son of an auto chief executive. In 1954, my dad, George Romney, was tapped to run American Motors when its president suddenly died. The company itself was on life support — banks were threatening to deal it a death blow. The stock collapsed. I watched Dad work to turn the company around — and years later at business school, they were still talking about it. From the lessons of that turnaround, and from my own experiences, I have several prescriptions for Detroit’s automakers.

First, their huge disadvantage in costs relative to foreign brands must be eliminated. That means new labor agreements to align pay and benefits to match those of workers at competitors like BMW, Honda, Nissan and Toyota. Furthermore, retiree benefits must be reduced so that the total burden per auto for domestic makers is not higher than that of foreign producers.

That extra burden is estimated to be more than $2,000 per car. Think what that means: Ford, for example, needs to cut $2,000 worth of features and quality out of its Taurus to compete with Toyota’s Avalon. Of course the Avalon feels like a better product — it has $2,000 more put into it. Considering this disadvantage, Detroit has done a remarkable job of designing and engineering its cars. But if this cost penalty persists, any bailout will only delay the inevitable.

Second, management as is must go. New faces should be recruited from unrelated industries — from companies widely respected for excellence in marketing, innovation, creativity and labor relations.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/19/opinion/
19romney.html?_r=1&hp

China’s Poisoned Milk Scandal: Deaths Went Uncounted, Unreported

November 15, 2008

Li Xiaokai died of kidney failure on the old wooden bed in the family farmhouse, just before dawn on a drizzly Sept. 10.

Her grandmother wrapped the 9-month-old in a wool blanket. Her father handed the body to village men for burial by a muddy creek. The doctors and family never knew why she got sick. A day later, state media reported that the type of infant formula she drank had been adulterated with an industrial chemical.

By CHARLES HUTZLER, Associated Press Writer

Li Xiaoyan sits on the lap of her mother Li Aiqing at their ...
Li Xiaoyan sits on the lap of her mother Li Aiqing at their home in Liti village, near Runan, in China’s Henan province, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008. Li Xiaoyan’s nine-month-old twin sister, Li Xiaokai who had been drinking a brand of milk formula linked to the melamine scandal died from kidney failure.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Yet the deaths of Xiaokai and at least four other babies are not included in China‘s official death toll from its worst food safety scare in years. The Health Ministry’s count stands at only three deaths.

The stories of these uncounted babies suggest that China’s tainted milk scandal has exacted a higher human toll than the government has so far acknowledged. Without an official verdict on the deaths, families worry they will be unable to bring lawsuits and refused compensation.

So far, nobody is suggesting large numbers of deaths are being concealed. But so many months passed before the scandal was exposed that it’s likely more babies fell sick or died than official figures reflect.

Beijing‘s apparent reluctance to admit a higher toll is reinforcing perceptions that the authoritarian government cares more about tamping down criticism than helping families. Lawyers, doctors and reporters have said privately that authorities pressured them to not play up the human cost or efforts to get compensation from the government or Sanlu, the formula maker.

“It’s hard to say how the government will handle this matter,” said Zhang Xinkui, a Beijing-based lawyer amassing evidence of the contamination for a possible lawsuit. “There may be many children who perhaps died from drinking Sanlu powdered milk or perhaps from a different cause. But there’s no system in place to find out.”

In the weeks since Xiaokai’s death, her father and his older brother have talked to lawyers and beseeched health officials, with no result.

“My heart is in pain,” said her father, Li Xiaoquan, a short, taciturn farmer with hooded eyes. From a corner of his farmhouse courtyard in central China’s wheat and corn flatlands, he pulls a worn green box that once held apples and is now stuffed with empty pink wrappers of the Sanlu Infant Formula Milk Powder that Xiaokai nursed on. “We think someone, the company, should compensate us.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081115/ap_on_re_as/as_
china_tainted_milk_toll;_ylt=AhcKMuAvsxWggSPLvIOf.cqs0NUE

New Secretary Faces Fixing Under-Resourced State Department

November 15, 2008
On news that president-elect Barack Obama is considering Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of state, Fox News brought out Democratic strategist Bob Bechel this morning who asked, “What does Hillary really want to do?  Get more post offices for the finger lakes region of New York or, as Secretary of state, visit European capitols and China?” In my opinion, this is one of the key problems with the State Department.  The Secretary of State often enjoys being “diplomat and traveler in chief” but often ignores his or her role as a key department head of the U.S. government charged with actually managing the Department of State.  During Condoleezza Rice’s time this came to a head when several of State’s diplomats refused to go to assignments in “hot spots” like Iraq.  These “public servants” were mostly coddled and cajoled while U.S. military volunteers, who take the same oath of service as State’s employees, face discipline when they refuse orders or assignments.  The point is that the next Secretary of State will have to deal with Russia, Iran, Iraq, China, Pakistan the Middle East and a host of other ‘hot spots.”  He or she will have to also get and keep the State Department at Foggy Bottom in line, on track, and in order — or it will become foggier still….

 
Seal of the United States Department of State

 

By Michael Abramowitz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, November 15, 2008; Page A04

The next secretary of state not only will face the challenge of repairing the nation’s tattered image and grappling with an array of global crises and hot spots, but also must solve a problem closer to home: reforming an under-resourced State Department to handle its growing duties, such as rebuilding war-torn societies, coping with worldwide pandemics and working with other countries to curb global warming.

“In the last eight years, we have significantly reinvented and transformed every national security agency except the Department of State,” said Philip D. Zelikow, who served as counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. “Our core Foreign Service officers and aid officers are not large enough to play the role that’s been cast for them, nor do we have the training establishment to prepare them for their roles.”

Speculation swirled yesterday that President-elect Barack Obama might be ready to offer the secretary of state post to an instantly recognizable star, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.). But other contenders apparently remain in the mix, including Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), the 2004 Democratic presidential nominee; New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson; and retiring GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel (Neb.). And after watching a administration whose tenure was marked by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the world appears ready for the nation’s new top diplomat — whomever it may be — to lead the reinvigorated diplomacy Obama has pledged to deliver.

“The next president and the next secretary come into office at a time when our economy is in recession, our military is tied down and our reputation is tarnished,” said Richard N. Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “Diplomatic tools are arguably the one set of instruments that are available. It’s a natural moment for American diplomacy.”

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/14/AR2008111403505.html

Decline, Failure of American Business, Industry and Government: BBC Experts Give reasons

November 7, 2008

This week the BBC’s host of World Business News and Global Business Peter Day is in Dublin talking to two brothers who are rarely in the same country at the same time about the legacy of the Puritan Gift. They review the evolution and failure of American business from Puritan times to the Harvard Business School and the meltdown of 2008…

Will Hopper is a banker.  Along with his briother Ken, he wrote a book about the decline of American business and government….

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The BBC Reports (Audio report):
http://www.bbc.co.uk/mediaselector/check/worldservice/meta/tx/
globalbusiness?nbram=1&nbwm=1&size=au&lang=en-ws&bgc=003399&ls=p12

U.N. Reports Show Scrutiny in Short Supply at World Body; And Reasons for it Abound

October 29, 2008

Nearly three years after the United Nations launched a highly publicized effort to crack down on fraud and waste, especially in its scandal-torn multi-billion-dollar procurement department, the clean-hands offensive is slowing down. And, its own watchdogs warn, other major areas of the U.N. bureaucracy are suffering from an alarming lack of scrutiny.

By George Russell
Fox News

Two high-risk areas in particular: the United Nations Environmental Program, where more than $1 billion is being spent to control climate change with almost no auditing oversight; and the United Nations staff pension fund, where large amounts of cash are apparently being kept off the balance sheets, and where fund managers themselves decide what auditors can and cannot investigate.

Those conclusions are contained in a pair of annual reports that have been submitted to the General Assembly by the U.N. watchdogs themselves, known as the Office of Internal Oversight Services (OIOS).

One of the reports covers the operations from July 1, 2007 to July 31, 2008, of the U.N.’s Procurement Task Force (PTF), which was set up in January 2006 to attack procurement corruption. The document also serves as an obituary of sorts for the PTF.

The United Nations Building.jpg

As the report notes, the task force is expected to disappear at the end of this year, strangled by lack of General Assembly funding. The task force will turn over more than 150 unexamined cases, including “several significant” fraud and corruption matters, to regular OIOS investigators, who may or may not be able to handle them.

Read the rest:
http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,444885,00.html

Pakistan: Eye Witness Account from Muhammad, December 26, 2007

December 26, 2007

Dear John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom

Dear Sir,

Hoping you and your team will be alright. Today I have read a report carried by various newspapers in Pakistan. The US aid plan for Pakistan’s tribal areas is in jeopardy as there are concerns about the lack of an adequate system to keep track of the money, according to The New York Times.

The plan calls for $750 million to be used in the areas over a five-year period, but some say it’s unrealistic to think that the money could be targeted properly in a lawless region where the government has little, if any, influence and there is no US troop presence, the report published on Tuesday added.The civilian aid programme would provide jobs and schooling, build 600 miles of roads and improve literacy in an area where almost no women can read.

Some US lawmakers are concerned that a rush to spend could lead to some of the same problems that were experienced in Iraq, particularly since the plan for Pakistan would also heavily rely on private contractors that can “eat up as much as half the budget.”

As of now, the programme is scheduled to start slowly and will eschew mention of its American origins since there is so much anti-US sentiment in the region.

“My sense is they are ready to start, but who is going to be responsible for management?”  Congressman John F. Tierney asked.

Mr Tierney, who serves on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, is one of several members of Congress who have begun pushing the State Department for details of how the civilian aid will be monitored.

They said they had not received satisfactory answers.

The importance of the issue, they said, was underlined by the scores of investigations into corruption connected with huge amounts of money and equipment for reconstruction and strengthening Iraq’s army and police forces that cannot be accounted for. “We’re not quite certain about it,” Mr Tierney said. “I have concerns that it not be a repeat of situations in Iraq.”

The new programme is meant to start slowly, with about $350 million to be made available for bidding initially. Among the handful of companies invited to bid are DynCorp International and Creative Associates International Inc, both of which won substantial contracts in Iraq. How effective they will be in the tribal areas is equally uncertain.The Pakistani authorities have ruled out using foreign non-profit groups, known as NGOs, shorthand for nongovernmental organizations. But neither do they approve the American choice of private contractors. They would like the money to go through them.

“We are living in times when NGOs are considered to be all out to convert tribesmen,” Javed Iqbal, until recently the additional chief secretary of Fata told the Times.

“To deal with the tribesmen, you have to understand the tribes,” Mr Iqbal said.  “You cannot ask a woman how frequently she takes contraception, which was one of the questions on an NGO questionnaire. The first reaction is going to box you in the face, and then tell you to get lost”

But Mr Iqbal said he was convinced that the for-profit companies would take a disproportionate amount of the programme money. “Forty-eight per cent of the programme money goes to consultants,” he said.

Dear Sir, I want to bring in your kind notice that Peace and Freedom can deliver positive result in the tribal areas if the task was given to it. It has been enjoying the support of people of tribal areas. The corrupt Pakistani officials should be ignored in this plan.

According to report from other parts of tribal areas, Violence spread to more areas in the Kurram Agency on Tuesday amid reports of infiltration of militants from nearby areas, sources said.

Four people were killed and 10 others were injured in clashes during the day, raising the death toll to 12 in three days. Doctors said that 32 injured people had been admitted to the agency headquarters hospital in Parachinar. However, the exact casualty figures could not be ascertained.Political Agent Zaheerul Islam confirmed only seven casualties in three days of clashes.

A senior official told Dawn in Peshawar that the Civil Secretariat, Fata, had sought more army troops to cope with the situation. “The authorities have formally requested the 11 Corps Headquarters to send more troops to the agency to control the situation,” the official said.

The ISPR’s Director-General, Maj-Gen Waheed Arshad, however, said that an adequate number of troops had already been deployed in the region. If local authorities needed reinforcements, the army would take their demand into consideration, said Maj-Gen Arshad.

A security official, Shakil Qadir, confirmed that skirmishes continued in different parts of the agency and there was a likelihood of reconvening the peace jirga to broker a ceasefire.A 15-member jirga from Hangu had left the area after it failed to broker a truce. It was constituted by the NWFP governor.

Heavy clashes were reported from Sadda, Balishkhel, Alizai, Tangai, Anzeri and Shashu. Security was tightened in Parachinar city and authorities did not relax curfew restrictions on Tuesday.

In the Balishkhel area, rival groups set houses on fire, displacing a large number of people.

Dear Sir, thank you very much again!

Yours sincerely,

Muhammad Khurshid
Khar, Bajaur Agency,Tribal Areas Pakistan