I've worked in the private and public sectors. One area in which the public sector has a clear advantage is it usually labels its political appointments.
There is little sanctimonious rhetoric about the best qualified person for the job. Although the appointee may be highly competent, everyone knows that the appointment is due to connections or influence and that it was not the result of careful screening.
Contrast that with the two-tiered approach in many companies. This Management Assistant job will be filled after we advertise it, attract a wide range of applicants, evaluate their knowledge, skills, and experience, interview them, and then select the person who has received the highest score. On the other hand, this vice presidential job several levels above the Management Assistant will be filled by a candidate the CEO once knew in Toledo. No serious screening. No objective interviewing. No bothering with equal opportunity or affirmative action concerns. Poof! He or she is in.
And here's the kicker. For the next VP slot, we may go through the formal system. You see, it's sort of optional. But you can bet that if the spot being filled is one of those lower level jobs, we'll be scientific and objective. We'll thoroughly search the hinderlands and carefully review our selection standards to make sure they are closely related to the job.
After all, we don't want to take any chances.