Christopher J. Dorobek | OMB’s 483-day sprint

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During a recent off-site meeting of the CIO Council, Clay Johnson, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget, said OMB would launch no new initiatives for the remainder of the Bush administration. Instead, the agency would focus on implementing the initiatives the administration has started in the past seven years.

That statement echoes what officials said when they submitted their fiscal 2008 budget request: We are in implementation mode.

Perhaps that is true, but we encourage administration officials to temper their words. Telling employees to just keep plugging along is disheartening, and it gives the impression that the administration has run out of steam. It also isn’t true.

We understand what they are trying to say: They will not be adding to the President’s Management Agenda while they work on the many important issues to be resolved in the administration’s remaining 15 months.

Clearly, the administration has less political capital the closer we get to Jan. 20, 2009, and, with Congress now controlled by Democrats, it is all the more difficult to launch new programs. But there are still opportunities for new ideas and initiatives, even if they seem relatively minor.

The Clinton administration announced the governmentwide Web portal FirstGov, which is now USA.gov, in July 2000 — less than six months before President Clinton left office. And OMB’s partnership with New Paradigm’s Don Tapscott on the Government 2.0 project is an innovative and potentially powerful approach to changing government.
Even if the Bush administration launches no new initiatives, we should see new goals for the existing ones.

To that end, we credit the General Services Administration — and specifically Administrator Lurita Doan and Deputy Administrator David Bibb — for setting a goal of having 50 percent of the agency’s eligible employees teleworking by 2010. Those kinds of mileposts can be powerful motivators and can transform everyday tasks into goals worth achieving.

The ideas that will live beyond the Bush years are those that have broad applicability and usefulness. Agencies and federal workers want to accomplish important tasks. They just need motivation and a goal worth achieving.

— Christopher J. Dorobek

[email protected]

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