FlipSide: A few minutes with…Jonathan Breul

Jonathan Breul, executive director of the IBM Center for the Business of Government, joined the center five years ago as a senior fellow after 22 years as a career federal executive in the Office of Management and Budget. The center, established as part of IBM’s Global Business Services division, is celebrating its 10-year anniversary this month. Under its charter, the center’s purpose is to bring independent thinking and practical insights to public-sector managers by conducting and sharing research on changes under way in public management at all levels of government in the United States and abroad.

FCW: What inspired the establishment of the center?
BREUL: As you know, companies spend money on marketing and going to conferences to gain a presence in the marketplace. We thought we could do that and also make a contribution to improving public management in a distinctive way that contributed more than just, if you will, buying the breakfast hour at a conference.
We began on a small scale, doing a couple of research reports. From a couple, we went to the point now where we’re doing two to three dozen reports a year. In addition, we produce a weekly radio show, a magazine twice a year and put on events. We consider 10 a pretty big milestone. It’s a mark of success and longevity. We’ve become known and respected as an unbiased source of public management information.

FCW: What stamp have you put on the center’s research agenda?
BREUL: We’ve focused a lot on the President’s Management Agenda, particularly the integration of budget and performance information. We’ve done a book and published about a dozen reports in that area. We brought in through the World Bank a dozen representatives from developed and developing countries to look at how this is done worldwide.

FCW: Are governments making substantial progress in understanding budget and performance integration and actually doing it?
BREUL: Yes, it’s become a worldwide phenomenon. The bottom line is that it is deceptively difficult. We’ve tried it here for several rounds ever since Lyndon Johnson’s Planning-Programming-Budgeting System. What we’re doing now with the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 is only the latest installment.

FCW: What is one insight you’ve gained from working on budget and performance integration?
BREUL: The connection between government effectiveness and world competitiveness is quite strong. Countries that are trying to keep up with one another see this as a public management trend they can’t ignore. 

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