A new face, renewed vision at GSA policy office
- By Colby Hochmuth
- Jul 03, 2014
Christine Harada has a clear vision of where she wants to lead the General Services Administration's Office of Governmentwide Policy. In her first government gig, the onetime aerospace engineer has two distinct focuses for what she wants to achieve: making data-driven decisions and increasing transparency at the agency.
Harada took over as associate administrator of governmentwide policy about a month ago. She replaced Anne Rung, who left for a position at the Office of Federal Procurement Policy.
Harada's first order of business is improving analytical capabilities. She said she is starting from a solid base and has identified places where additional data should be collected. But she sees more opportunities for putting that data to use.
"I don't know that we've actually questioned, 'How can we create greater efficiencies out of this?'" she said. "What are some of the critical points that we need to ensure so that we have continuous operations or resilience?"
OGP collects and shares massive amounts of data with government agencies. As a management consultant for the past two years, Harada said she learned that "data is gold," which is why she is working to expand those capabilities among OGP's employees.
"One of the main reasons I'm really passionate about building up the team is that I want real performance metrics behind our policy decisions," Harada said. "I want to know how our policy affects other government agencies, and more importantly, are those policies and regulations having a desired effect on behavior? We won't know that unless we make a concerted effort to measure our success" and help the government be more efficient and effective.
With regard to the "better, faster, cheaper" mentality that is prevalent in government today, Harada said the best ways to improve efficiency are transparency and the free flow of information. So it's no surprise that she wants increased transparency for OGP initiatives, including their status "and how they all tie into the greater strategy management for GSA and OGP at large."
In previous roles, Harada has helped Fortune 500 and public-sector clients improve their organizational effectiveness and translate strategy into execution. For an organization as large and far-reaching as government, she said ensuring clear decision-making authority for employees and having good information flow are essential.
"It's understanding how these large and complex organizations manage and manage well," Harada said. "I think that regardless if you're for-profit, not-for-profit or government, there are good fundamental management practices that everyone can benefit from."
Although this is Harada's first job at a government agency, she has worked with federal clients such as the Defense Department, and she said she thrived on the mission-oriented aspect of the work.
"It's so much fun to work with people who believe in something and have a calling," she said.
Harada's first job was as an aerospace engineer building satellites at Lockheed Martin. She has also worked as an international program manager at Kana Software and as a consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton and the Boston Consulting Group.
"I've enjoyed focusing on big pictures," she said. "Whether that's space or working in consulting, we all have some complex issues to solve, and I look forward to solving problems from the inside."
Colby Hochmuth is a staff writer covering big data, cloud computing and the federal workforce. Connect with her on Twitter: @ColbyAnn.