Policy Guidance

NAPA plans advice for the president on federal initiatives

John Kamensky

John Kamensky, senior fellow and associate partner at the IBM Center for The Business of Government, chaired the Managing Big Initiatives effort.

The National Academy of Public Administration will host the release of a series of post-election recommendations regarding large-scale federal initiatives, improved performance from federal agencies and managing partnerships between the public, private and nonprofit sectors on Nov. 9 at 10 a.m.

The recommendations, part of a joint project between NAPA and the American Society for Public Administration called "Memos to National Leaders," will be delivered at NAPA headquarters, located at 900 7th St. NW in Washington, D.C.

The three memos are titled “Managing Big Initiatives,” “Improving Performance” and “Managing Public-Private Partnerships.”

“Every president winds up facing some sort of large-scale initiative he or she is going to confront,” said John Kamensky, who chaired the Managing Big Initiatives memo. Kamensky is a Senior Fellow and Associate Partner for IBM’s Center for The Business of Government.

“What we did was look at 50 years of big initiatives presidents have faced and categorized them, figuring out what kind of strategies need to be put in place for all those kinds of big initiatives to be effective,” Kamensky said. “We’re recommending the president, incoming or continuing, to identify in advance of a big initiative a cadre of senior executives capable of working across agency boundaries so the president has a talent pool to draw on.”

Kamensky cited three types of big initiatives presidential administrations have faced in the past, including unexpected large-scale initiatives like the cross-agency response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005, planned initiatives like former President Bill Clinton’s National Partnership for Reinventing Government and big science initiatives like the International Space Station.

Mark Pisano will present recommendations outlined in the Managing Public-Private Partnerships memo at the event as well. Pisano chaired the memo, and is a Senior Fellow at the
University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy. Recommendations will include short- and long-term strategies for improving those partnerships.

Don Moynihan, a NAPA fellow and professor of Public Affairs at the La Follett School of Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, chaired the memo titled “Improving Performance” and will present recommendations directed to push federal employees and agency leaders to take performance management more seriously.

Moynihan said the most promising performance management systems would be incorporated under Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act (GPRAMA) of 2010.

“The argument in our memo is [that] the focus should be on implementation (of GPRAMA),” Moynihan said. “If we add new policy in this area, it will just confuse matters more. We want to engage Congress and get federal employees to use performance data in their jobs.” 

Additional featured speakers for the 90-minute session include G. Edward DeSeve, President of the Global Public Leadership Institute and former Special Advisor to President Barack Obama for Recovery Implementation, and Hon. Robert Shea, Principal and Public Sector Director at Grant Thorton and former Associate Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget under President George W. Bush.

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