The Heritage Foundation showed Tuesday that the private sector does something else better than government — explaining to the public what happened when a leader gets fired.
When a top government official gets canned, figuring out what really happened is usually a guessing game. Did the agency chief really resign? Did the president demand his resignation?
Did the guy on the way out the door really want to spend more time with his family?
The last place to learn the truth is a government press release. But Heritage showed Tuesday that the truth has a much better chance outside of government.
In its statement, Heritage made it clear that former President Jim DeMint was being fired, regardless of how he feels about his family.
"The Heritage Foundation's Board of Trustees, by a unanimous vote, has asked for and received the resignation of Jim DeMint as president and CEO of the organization," the statement said.
"[T]he Board determined there were significant and worsening management issues that led to a breakdown of internal communications and cooperation," it added. "While the organization has seen many successes, Jim DeMint and a handful of his closest advisers failed to resolve these problems."
It doesn't get much more explicit than that. DeMint wasn't managing the organization well, according to a unanimous vote of the board, and that was enough.
In the government, it's never that clear, and usually, the problems in the organization are much more serious.
Remember Katherine Archuleta, former director of the Office of Personnel Management under President Barack Obama? She was in charge when OPM was hacked twice, and the personal information of 22.1 million people was stolen.
Was she fired? Who knows? She said she believed it was "best for me to step aside," and the feds never said she was kicked out because of her gross mismanagement of the agency.
Remember Eric Shinseki, who led the Department of Veterans Affairs at a time of systemic fraud throughout the agency aimed at pretending the VA was quickly getting healthcare to veterans? He resigned too, and was able to release a statement that made no mention of the mess he had ignored.
Remember former Secret Service Director Julia Pierson? You may not — there's no trace of a statement online when she "resigned" after a wave of embarrassing security lapses at the White House under Obama.
Was she fired in an effort to improve the situation? Maybe, but we can only guess.
The Trump administration has indicated it's more forthcoming than its predecessor. When national security adviser Mike Flynn was fired in February, he was allowed to say he was "tendering his resignation." But a few days later, President Trump made it clear: "I fired him because of what he said to Mike Pence."
Still, government's first tendency is to protect the people who have screwed things up royally. Government is always massaging the truth, seeing if it can harness the truth for some other aim. Deflection. The protection of an ally. The broad goal of convincing the public that things are going great.
In contrast, Heritage's release openly admitted problems, described the steps being taken to resolve them, and even promised that its own members would help choose a successor.
More evidence that just because federal officials can co-opt a term like "accountability," it doesn't mean they know how to implement it.
And they don't write very well, either.