Nick Dantzer, Master of Public Administration (MPA) alum (2012), is the budget director for the Massachusetts Executive Office of Health and Human Services in Boston.
Before starting his new position in August, Dantzer was the assistant budget director for the Massachusetts Executive Office for Administration and Finance. Here, he discusses his position at the Executive Office for Administration and Finance.
On the insider’s point of view: I did community organizing and anti-poverty work for a few years in Detroit and Arizona, working tangentially with the federal government. I realized that a lot of the important decisions on funding were made by government officials at high levels. I wanted to be in that role, having the understanding of how these financial decisions affected things on the ground.
On the importance of the bottom line: Budgets are the nuts and bolts of government decisions, which drive public policy. You don’t have a very effective policy if it’s not funded. Fortunately, SPPUA gave me an effective set of tools to evaluate public policy in varying contexts so that when our team is presented with a policy issue requiring thoughtful analysis, I’m fully equipped and prepared to contribute to the discussion in an equally thoughtful and professional manner.
On his dream job: While I certainly didn’t ever plan it this way, I’m doing exactly what I wanted to do: understand how things actually come together to make public decisions that can directly impact communities and people’s lives. The state has a $38 billion budget funding all of state government, from mental health to Medicaid. My office directly manages the budget, working with state agencies and the governor to establish the appropriate funding levels. It’s an amazing responsibility and privilege preparing the governor’s budget and establishing his priorities while managing the current fiscal year and planning for the next.
On change: Change can sometimes be a loaded term. I now better appreciate the importance of working together and collaboratively from the inside of large and often complex systems in order to be a greater change maker in the public service spirit, to serve the public good.