Management

Obama announces 'aggressive' management agenda

President Obama in the Oval Office

President Barack Obama plans to make innovation in government management a priority in his second term and has tapped Sylvia Mathews Burwell, director of the Office of Management and Budget, to lead the effort.

Obama made the announcement after a July 8 Cabinet meeting at which he gave agency leaders the goal of developing an “aggressive management agenda” designed to harness the power of technology to bring innovations in government services to the public. As examples of innovations during his first term, he cited the open-data initiative, the ongoing effort to reduce federal data center redundancies, and the use of satellite and Internet technologies aid relief efforts after natural disasters.

New developments on the horizon include the recently relaunched Healthcare.gov site, which will expand further on Oct. 1 to allow users to compare and shop for health insurance plans as part of the Affordable Care Act. The government also plans to expand RFP-EZ, a project of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy that is designed to reduce the administrative burden on small businesses looking to tap into federal procurement opportunities.

Also in the pipeline is MyUSA, a Web portal for individuals to streamline their interactions with the federal government. Obama said that before long, citizens will be able to apply for federal benefits using forms that populate their information automatically, and “track their application in real time like following the location of a package.”

Furthermore, Obama said the 43 presidential innovation fellows will be developing new ways of using technology to automate and streamline the delivery of government services. He is also asking private-sector innovators, inventors and others to contribute, saying he is looking for the “brightest minds to solve the biggest challenges.”

Obama’s management reboot is being driven by administrative authority, but he called on Congress to expand the executive authority to “reorganize and consolidate bureaucracy,” which he compared to the authority of an owner revising a company’s management structure.

Obama will be addressing those challenges without a permanent deputy director for management at OMB. Currently, Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel is serving in that role. Danny Werfel, who was acting deputy director for management, is leading the Internal Revenue Service in the wake of scandals at that agency.

About the Author

Adam Mazmanian is a staff writer covering Congress, the FCC and other key agencies. Connect with him on Twitter: @thisismaz.

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