Groups urge next president to improve federal operations

The next administration should pay more attention to improving federal operations to overcome serious management challenges, the Partnership for Public Service said in a report outlining its proposed management reforms.

The report, “Roadmap to Reform: A Management Framework for the Next Administration,” released Oct. 1, cited examples of eroding federal management, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s poor response to Hurricane Katrina and the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s need to recall millions of toys for possible toxins.

“There’s nothing like a crisis to help people realize that having an effective government matters,” said Max Stier, the organization’s president and chief executive officer. He cited the current financial crisis, saying, “The key to success will be the government’s operational management of the bailout in the months to come.”

The way the transition between administrations unfolds determines the long-term potential for management reforms, he added.

“The next president can score some quick wins by building on pre-existing initiatives where a great deal of work has already been done,” the report states. It cites the Program Assessment Rating Tool for evaluating the effectiveness of federal programs and states that the next administration could develop more forward-looking measures that focus on outcomes.

As the next president selects his senior executives, he should make sure that highly qualified people fill vital management positions, such as chief financial officers, chief information officers and chief human capital officers, the report states.

“Looking long term, since these positions are non-ideological in nature, it would be wise to strongly consider making them career positions, to create continuity between administrations,” the report states.

To improve the organizational performance of the federal government, the next president should make workforce management a top priority, the report states.

Critical to the next president’s management reform efforts would be getting the public to value and support having an effective federal workforce. Among other considerations, the report urges the next administration to:

• Engage in more aggressive, strategic recruiting with young audiences, midcareer candidates and retiring baby boomers by touting the benefits of public service.

• Expand the use of financial incentives, such as establishing a governmentwide scholarship program to fund college studies in exchange for a federal-service commitment.

• Streamline the federal application and hiring process.

• Develop credible performance management systems so federal employees receive an annual written review from capable supervisors, and managers have the flexibility to reward strong performers and deal with poor performers.

• Establish long-term leadership by appointing for a set term a chief management officer at each department to oversee implementation of management reform initiatives.

The partnership published the report in coordination with other government reform groups. They include the National Academy of Public Administration, the Council for Excellence in Government, the Coalition for Effective Change, the IBM Center for the Business of Government and the Center for the Study of the Presidency.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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