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want to talk to you today about the evolution towards modern management that is taking place in South Carolina government. Like the preacher says, “I take as my text.” I take as my text upon this point—a page of history is worth a volume of logic. “A page of history is worth a volume of logic.” Those words were written in the 1920s by Oliver Wendell Holmes. The case was United States Trust Corporation against Eisner, and it doesn’t matter what was actually decided in that case. Suffice to say it was an attempt to parse the logic of

“I am a fervent believer that the index to the progress of
South Carolina will be measured by our move towards professional management in state government.”

the Internal Revenue code, and naturally one would think that history (emphasis added) is more important than trying to figure out any taxation code by the use of logic—as Betsy Carpentier, director of the S. C. Department of Revenue, can certainly attest.

But I think it is important for us to look at how we’ve evolved in South Carolina in order to understand why we manage as we do, and where we may be going in South Carolina government in the management area. It’s a daunting prospect to take that as a topic when I look about this room and see the kind of real professionals and experts in state government management that I’m addressing. I am one of those who has learned it by experience and not by education. I’m kind of a self-made state manager with the help of a lot of good friends who really do know what they’re talking about in management. But I am a fervent believer that the index to the progress of South Carolina will be measured by our move towards professional management in state government.

So let’s look at the history a little bit. It’s the 1950s and South Carolina is in the grip of a rigid state-enforced segregation and a rigid enforcement of legislative domination of government structure. These two influences that were so contrary to progress in South Carolina began to loosen, however, during that decade. Interestingly enough, the first small step came out of a desire to enhance and promote segregation, rather than to abolish it. Also the establishment in the early 50s under Governor James F. Byrnes of the 3% sales tax was another catalyst. I date, in my own personal history, the beginning of modern state management to the 4% sales tax that was enacted for education.

Why was it enacted? Well, even out of some of the ignoble motivations comes a lot of good. So it was with this improvement in state government. The impetus was the looming litigation that we now know as Briggs vs. Elliott (1954), Brown vs. Board of Education (1954), and the legal standard used before these cases were finally decided--as we know—was “separate but equal,” a doctrine that was a lie as it was written, but was the standard that allowed the continued enforcement for actual state laws requiring segregation. In order even to think that one would be able to defend these lawsuits that were just beginning to make their way into the court system, South Carolina state government decided to enact a 3% sales tax so that some improvement could be made in the desperate condition of schools, particularly rural schools and particularly black schools in South Carolina.

As I said, the motivation was not a noble one, but the result was the beginning of a unified approach to modern state government after years of simply looking at government as a kind of ad hoc enterprise that existed and went out of business every year as the legislature convened and adjourned. Briggs vs. Elliott came along, and with that the whole world began to change—not quickly—not quickly enough, and victories are not yet achieved, but the world began to change in South Carolina, and state government was very much a part of that change.

The late 1950s and the early 1960s saw the emergence of a group of chief executives who believed in professional management in state government. Governor Ernest F. Hollings began the technical education system. The tech school system is just as modern and innovative and bright a management tool in the year 2001 as it was in the late 50s and early 60s when that tool was the management instrument used by state government to begin to attract an economic engine into this state from outside and to begin to lift the fortunes of all South Carolinians.Governor Robert E. McNair and Governor John C. West were the next two real innovators. McNair was in office for a long enough period of time to make a real impact on modern state government. That’s one of the reasons he still comes to address management seminars like this because he really understands from being, as Dean Acheson once said, “present at the creation.”

Governor McNair understands what it’s like to create from practically nothing. (He made)… management evaluation of state government as an enterprise rather than a collection of individual turfs and fiefdoms. Much of the beginning of managing agencies by directories, by commissions, evolved under McNair and that evolution continued under Governor West. And a new dimension began to be added during the West administration. That was equity in state government employment and merit in state government employment. We take those concepts so for granted now that it’s hard to remember, for many of you perhaps, the day when

“The late 50s the early 60s saw the beginning of the group of chief executives that believed in professional management in state government…”

the race, ethnicity, gender, age were not touchstones or guidelines for the management of personnel in state government or for even the achievement for any kind of job in state government.

We were still very, very burdened by a patronage system. At the time Governor West, boldly by executive order—not even by an enactment of the legislature, because the legislature had tried and failed to enact this very legislation, so by gubernatorial order—established the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission. The Human Affairs Commission legislation was enacted in order to start requiring each of the state agencies to develop programs, written programs, within their agencies for the introduction of the concept of equality in hiring and promotions. You can not imagine the tension that filled the room the day the first meeting was held of all state agency heads for the Human Affairs Commission and for Governor West to proclaim that within a short period of time each state agency would be mandated, by gubernatorial executive order, to come forward with an affirmative action plan for their agencies.

I was lucky enough to serve on that first Commission and was present at that meeting. You could have cut the tension with a knife in that room. You can imagine in the early 1970s how many old-fashioned ideas, to be as gentle as one can be about it, invaded the thinking of the people who headed state agencies in South Carolina. You can understand full well that all of those faces were very much the same and there certainly were no women among those faces, not even on the nursing board at the time, which is supposed to be ours, not even at the Department of Education. There certainly were no black faces except one, the head of the South Carolina Human Affairs Commission, and that didn’t go over so well with some. These agency heads were going to be mandated to submit those plans to that fledgling, boldly-created Commission. But a lot happened when those plans

“The beginning of the 70s was a period of great reform and
it had to be generated by the legislature which held all the power.”

were projected. Because it made us as a government begin to think about how we were organized, how our mission was accomplished, and what we would do with the personnel in our organization to achieve a mission and (to determine) whether there would be a state policy and a state culture of professional management, rather than political management.

It really was a defining moment in the history and evolution of management in state government. About that time the legislature began to experience a change. We’re still thought of as one of the ultimate legislative states, and there is a wonderful history there that many of you may know that traces its roots right back to colonial South Carolina. Our legislative dominance was an attempt to free ourselves from the tyrannical rule by royal prerogative from Britain and impositions of leadership of our court system from a far distant crown in London. So our first ideas that the Commons House Assembly, the legislative group, would be the essence of freedom is a very old-fashioned idea, but by the 1970s that idea had played itself out into a very rigid control by a very small group of folks (who held) the destiny of professional management in every agency in South Carolina and in every local government in South Carolina.

Well, the beginning of the 70s was a period of great reform and it had to be generated by the legislature which held all the power. The executive was weak, the agencies were weak and frankly the court was just as weak and very much under the thumb of this very dominant legislature. The Chief Justice could not even set terms of court in the various courts, like Circuit Court, in South Carolina. The terms even for the Supreme Court itself, were set by the legislature; can you imagine? All agencies were run by boards and commissions that were appointed, not by the governor, but by the General Assembly, or if the governor had some input, the final approval had to be by either the Senate or the General Assembly as a whole. The legislature very much dominated. So how did it ever come about that such a group would give up its authority and power? That again is another one of the defining moments in the move towards professionalism in our government in South Carolina. And some of it came by reasons from within and some of it came by authority from without.

From within, there did begin to be elected, even under the old system, reformers who started proposing institutional reform. The Chief Justice of South Carolina proposed modernization of the court system (which ultimately resulted in revision of the Judicial Article of the state Constitution effective in 1973). Many people all over the state, including the business community, began to say county government and city government had to be locally controlled; school boards had to be locally controlled. This idea that the legislature and a small group of Senators and House members in a county running the whole thing has got to change. We’ll never make any progress as a state if we continue in this old political patronage system. As I say, some power and authority was given up voluntarily in the Senate and House; we were beginning to pass constitutional amendments and put on the ballots the question of modernization of state government.

But some things had to change from without and, of course, single-member districts was one of the next defining achievements and moments for the legislature. A lot of people said, “Oh, single member districts are terrible,” and they do have their flaws now, unfortunately. Although we’ve achieved great diversity in representation in our legislative body with the advent of single member districts, we have traded for that a “Balkanization” and a tendency to look at your own little pea patch rather than to state government as a whole, as you as professional managers know very well. So there’s that kind of cycle that needs to shift or pendulum that needs to shift in that regard. But what we gained by way of professional management was an absolute explosion at the time single-member districts came in.

The Legislative Audit Council and the notion that the legislature would begin with professional management tools to actually audit the performance of state agencies came into existence. Governor James B. Edwards began the effort to enhance the Budget and Control Board itself as a professional management center for state government. The Board began to be regarded, not just by the Governor’s Office, but by the legislature itself, as the planning and management professional for state government as a whole.

We started to pass laws that actually mandated this concept of centralization of management. The South Carolina Consolidated Procurement Code is a very good example of the legislature finally deciding the Budget and Control Board’s management team is the way we want to go with introducing fairness and equality into state purchasing, which used to be very politically controlled. There were scandals about companies who bought their way into agencies. Some people think that the Procurement Code needs a little retooling. I’m one of those people, as the author of the original codes. But

“…some power and authority was given up voluntarily in the Senate and House; we were beginning to pass constitutional amendments and put on the ballots the question of modernization of state government.”

although the system needs refining, the concept that you couldn’t just go out and buy from your buddy, but that you actually had to put out for public bid state contracts, was a huge achievement. The idea was that the professional group who would monitor these state purchases would not be the agencies themselves, but the Budget and Control Board’s General Services administration and its procurement review section. That was a radical change because it not only took power away from individual agencies, particularly those who did a large amount of purchasing, but is also introduced the idea that the standard is going to be a level playing field for everyone; it’s going to be fairness and equity; its going to be smart business management rather than the political way.

I think South Carolina didn’t just move as a straight upward road; I think we have gone through “tsunamis” (Japanese term for “a great tidal wave”) of change, the waves come through and then you sink into the trough and then you have another tsunami of change. I think that’s what very much what was happening in the 1970s. We would have these waves of progressive ideas come by and then sometimes we would backslide. South Carolina appreciates its history, so we didn’t just make these changes by abandoning where had come from. We still believe in the idea that a page of history is worth a volume of logic.

We did such things as revive an old commission that had been dormant for a long time, the State Reorganization Commission. Phil Grose (then director of the Commission) ended up heading that effort and it was an effort again to take a broad look at how certain services

“We still believe in the idea that a page of history is worth a
volume of logic.”

were delivered and how certain agencies were structured—not to decide from within but to decide from without how state government needed to change. Again, a pretty radical notion when it was first proposed that the Commission be reorganized. I think to begin with they threw state Senator John Drummond in it because he was kind of a maverick; he wasn’t part of the team. He had his own ideas; he was always raising cain about something. He didn’t just go in the cloakroom, into the back room, and kind of hash things out in private. They put Drummond in charge of it and look what a professional manager it made him. He’ll tell you that right now, the work the two of us did on the State Reorganization Commission opened our eyes to the possibilities of real professional management in how we looked at an agency or a state mission.

So we were starting to make some progress that not only was revising the way government structure worked but revising the thought process of the politicians that had so much to do with running the state government. Governor Dick Riley, who as a “young turk” in the state Senate led the effort for modernization of the legislature and the courts, persuaded the General Assembly to strengthen the Governor’s Office immensely by allowing the Governor to serve two terms. The 1980s began the steps toward legislative modernization with the elimination of the filibuster in the state House of Representatives. Modern committee systems with professional research staff began their life in the early 70s and really came to fruition in the 80s. There were shorter sessions of the legislature; when I first came we met from January to October the first year and I almost went broke as a young lawyer. The next year it was a real let-up, January to September. Then Bob Sheheen came as a new member (of the state House of Representatives) and we went from January to Halloween, and I said we’ve gone back. I said, “You’re supposed to be one of the progressives I finally got here, and now we’ve retreated.”

You can’t imagine the battles it took with the Senate leadership to get them to agree to the legislation to shorten the session. You all think a six-months session is a long time, and frankly I do, too, but I’ll never forget when state Senator Isadore Lourie brought over what we called Senate One—the first bill filed during that session—and he said “Tom Smith (a state Senator) and I had finally gotten this shortening of the session to the first Thursday in June. Don’t change a period or a comma, because if you do it will go back to Gressette’s (state Senator and then Judiciary Committee chairman) graveyard and we will never see it again.” So we had a lot of persuading to do with our House members about that day, and then we had a lot of persuading to do about how it was interpreted. There is a precedent on the books by my friend, (Lt. Governor) Nancy Stevenson, who was persuaded by those people in the Senate to say that if there was still some time left when we receded on Thursday, that it was still Thursday whenever you came back. I thought first Thursday of June was pretty clear. We had a year when the House adjourned and went home because Thursday was over on the point of order of some representative from District 75 in Richland County by the name of Toal.

Modernization came in tsunamis, as I’ve explained to you. And finally of course, in the 1990s, the mantra of professional management really came into its own. Governor Carroll Campbell made restructuring of the executive branch his major initiative. We had developed a culture by that time, and Representatives and Senators and the Governor’s Office knew that professional management was the thing to do—that you would be criticized if you didn’t professionalize. The Executive Institute here is a signal outgrowth of that. It represents a confidence in the Budget and Control Board as a manager, and now as a trainer, and teacher of managers. To institutionalize that concept in state government is really a powerful statement about what we want to be as a people and what we want to be as a government. The cabinet form of government—governmental reorganization, Governor Campbell’s centerpiece—in the early 90s was the next big development.

Now we are into 2000 and what’s the next big move? Well, many of you know that I think the next big move is how will we harness the use of technology to really connect to South Carolinians and give them access to everything they want to know about their government and about each other and the services they need. That’s going to be my biggest emphasis for the Judicial department this coming year, and frankly I’m asking for—relative to my small agency—substantial funds, most of which would be spent at the county level. The next thing we’ve got to do is look at state government and understand how much of the burden of it still resides on a base of taxpayers and funds that is so locally based that we have things that are so needful competing in such a hurtful way with each other that we don’t deliver the kind of services we need. It’s wrong for schools and courts systems to compete with each other for little bits and pieces of a poor county’s money to deliver those kinds of services. We’re going to have to start looking, in a very thoughtful way, statewide with the help of professional managers, as to how we deliver services.

That’s what I did with this initiative. The very first stop I made when I became Chief Justice of the S. C. Supreme Court was deciding what my initiatives ought to be and how I ought to start managing, was with my friends at the Budget and Control Board. That’s born out of years of friendship and collegiality, but it’s also born out of a professional relationship that goes back a quarter of a century. I knew exactly where I needed to go to begin some really sophisticated planning. We reached out to the private sector and are spending, right now, substantial monies on consulting studies that we need to tell us where we need to go in this highly technical field. What I began to discover is that there were

“I think the next big move is how will we harness the use of technology to really connect to South Carolinians and give them everything they want to know about their government and about each other and the services they need.”

planners within state government who could set the court system on the right path to delivering services at the local level. So my first initiative would be what the schools did several years ago under Governor David Beasley—every courthouse connected to the state backbone by the end of next fiscal year is the goal. I think we can achieve it but what it will mean to have that kind of connectivity in the Allendales and the Jaspers (two S. C. rural counties) and some of the toughest areas we deal with as well as more sophisticated (or metropolitan) connections in the Greenvilles and the Richlands and the Charlestons is going to be so dramatic and so exciting for those local governments. It’s not just a question of connection, it is a question that they (the courthouses) are regarded as worthy recipients and valued recipients of management at a high level from their state government. Now you are the group that sends that message for the future to South Carolinians, and I don’t say that just to make you feel good on a Friday afternoon. I say it with a fervor born of over twenty-eight years in state government. I have seen what changes and what dreams there could be for South Carolina, beginning when we were trapped in the rigidity of prejudice and hatred in the fifties. And I have seen what we have come to in state government now, and who—and I look at this room of these diverse faces—will lead us. You are the future and I’m just real honored to be a part of it and to have had little bit to do with getting us here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Justice Jean H. Toal, J. D., was elected to the S. C. Supreme Court on January 27, 1988 and became Chief Justice on June 2, 1999. Ms. Toal served in the S. C. House of Representatives from 1975 to early 1988 and was Chairman of the House Rules Committee for eight years. She was additionally a practicing lawyer for 20 years before being elected to the court. During her professional career Chief Justice Toal has been the recipient of several public service awards and honorary doctorates.


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Richard D. Young, Editor in Chief
Public Policy & Practice
Institute for Public Service and
Policy Research
University of South Carolina
Columbia, SC 29208
Phone: (803) 777-0453
Fax: (803) 777-4575
e-mail: young-richard@sc.edu
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