Election 2012

Obama wins. Now what?

President Barack Obama

Several bitter months and $6 billion spent on campaigning led to no major changes in leadership in Washington following the Nov. 6 election.

President Barack Obama defeated Republican challenger Mitt Romney, Democrats solidified their control of the U.S. Senate and Republicans easily maintained a majority in the U.S. House of Representatives, though votes are still being counted in a few close individual races. For federal agencies, the obvious next question is: Now what?

Obama’s victory was celebrated by the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Federation of Federal Employees, two large federal employee unions representing a combined 800,000 federal employees.

 “This was a momentous victory for the President,” said William Dougan, National President of NFFE. “Within government, he has taken innovative approaches to improving workforce morale, efficiency, and productivity. We look forward to another four years of working together to find creative solutions to the pressing issues impacting our nation’s workforce, and government.”

The president’s technology-specific plans remain unclear, yet Obama’s victory means there will likely be far less transitional personnel turnover in federal agencies than if voters had elected Romney. That might mean continued improvement of the government’s digital strategies and technology and performance policies, according to Don Moynihan, a fellow at the National Academy of Public Administration.

The future of federal technology policies would have been murkier under Romney, Moynihan said, because the Romney administration “never really talked about technology as an issue.”

“The likelihood is for Obama’s administration to stick with what is in place because he had a hand in designing some current policies,” Moynihan said.

John Kamensky, a senior fellow and associate partner for IBM's Center for The Business of Government, told FCW that broad technology trends are “often times driven by technology and not so much the priorities and policies if incoming presidents.”

“I can’t imagine either person winning would change the initiative to reduce the number of data centers in half,” Kamensky said.

With the election over, the nation faces a fiscal cliff, sequestration and the elephant-in-the-room question of whether Obama and Republicans can work better together than they have over the past two years.  “You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours,” Obama said in his acceptance speech. “And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together.”

Whether any ground is gained on these issues during the lame duck session, which is slated to start Nov. 13, is unclear. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told CNN on Nov. 4, that “lame-duck Congresses aren’t known for doing big things and probably shouldn’t do big things.”

Following Obama’s election win, however, Boehner said both parties have to “find common ground and take steps together to help our economy grow and create jobs, which is critical to solving our debt.”

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s post-election statements were less rosy, suggesting the president needed to “step up” to work with Congress.

"Now it's time for the president to propose solutions that actually have a chance of passing the Republican-controlled House of Representatives and a closely divided Senate, step up to the plate on the challenges of the moment, and deliver in a way that he did not in his first four years in office,” McConnell said in a written statement. "To the extent he wants to move to the political center, which is where the work gets done in a divided government, we'll be there to meet him half way."

 

About the Author

Frank Konkel is a former staff writer for FCW.

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