The key to performance improvement

A panel discusses what it will really take to improve the performance of government during the president's second term.

Deseve speaking at NAPA event

Edward Deseve, speaking at the "Memos to National Leaders" event, says the three sets of recommendations coming from the series address the important things the public expects from the government. (Photo courtesy of NAPA)

Governance is the key to improving the federal government’s performance, according to speakers at  the fourth and final installment in a joint project between the National Academy of Public Administration and the American Society for Public Administration called “Memos to National Leaders.”

The recommendations are not for radical changes, but for making better use of government tools and personnel already available.

“If we’re interested in improving the performance of government in the 21st century, we’re probably going to be more focused on governance than government,” said Christopher Mihm, Managing Director of Strategic Issues for the Government  Accountability Office, speaking at the event held Nov. 9.

Mihm and G. Edward Deseve, deputy director of management for the Office of Management and Budget, drew parallels between the three sets of recommendations regarding large-scale presidential initiatives, fiscal strategy partnerships and creating a performance-driven federal government.

“When you look across these papers, it shows a deep understanding and appreciation for everything important we ask the government to achieve,” Mihm said. “Success is achieved through many organizations working together in a coordinated way – success is caused by working together.”

Improving performance

Performance management at the federal level has improved slowly over the past few decades, according to Don Moynihan, who chaired the memo on performance improvement, but it is not where it needs to be yet.

Moynihan said the Government Performance and Results Act Modernization Act of 2010 provides a useful mechanism to implement President Barack Obama’s agenda. The Modernization Act, Moynihan said, calls for a series of new positions, including the designation of performance improvement officers for each federal agency. They  would act as the right hand of chief operating officers. CIO positions, Moynihan said, should be filled with managers, not policy experts, to ensure vital performance data is utilized properly agency heads.

“We haven’t quite gotten to the point where using performance data is a frequent hat of managers in the federal government, I think that’s the next frontier of performance management,” said Moynihan, suggesting political appointees should be selected at times based on “their ability to manage things.

“One thing we know about performance management systems is that they work better when the leader (of an agency) is committed to performance and results,” Moynihan said. “We want to try to induce that leadership commitment. If managers are not using performance data, we can be sure it is not doing a lot of good.”

Better public-private partnerships

Tom Downs, who presented the memo on managing public and private partnerships, said the private sector is “waiting for some degree of certainty, or promise about the economy” to put retained earnings of $2 trillion to work in rebuilding the nation’s infrastructure. Downs called for the creation of public benefit corporations (PBCs) to “bring about investments and business plan development for infrastructure” that would use federal, state and local government authority for their establishment combined with the “tools of the private sector to operate,” with administration implemented in a nonprofit format.

“It would create a framework, an owner’s manual of sorts, for going forward to bring the private sector into this process and free up $2 trillion in retained earnings,” Downs said.

The partnerships memo was chaired by Mark Pisano, Senior Fellow at the University of Southern California’s Price School of Public Policy. It calls for Congress to create a Council for Fiscal Sustainability, a nonprofit organization that would make recommendations on how to change “operating procedures” of governmental entities. The memo also urges Congress to create a board to oversee PBCs.

“Our country’s future rests on the willingness of our leaders to take creative and sustained action to grow our economy,” the memo states.

Prepping properly for large-scale initiatives

Every president faces at least one large-scale initiative, according to John Kamensky, who chaired the Managing Big Initiatives memo. They can be unexpected, like the cross-agency response in recent weeks to Hurricane Sandy, or planned, like former President Bill Clinton’s National Partnership for Reinventing Government in the 1990s. Big initiatives can also be science-related, like the creation of the International Space Station.

Whatever they are and whenever they occur, Kamensky said the government should be able to rely on “experienced senior career staff” to lead large-scale initiatives. He said Obama’s administration should “identify a cadre of 50 to 100” such staff who would be responsible for large-scale management initiatives for the president.

Dwight Ink, a retired federal executive who assisted in authoring the recommendations, said further action – institutionalizing the role of OMB management staff to create an Office of Executive Management to organize large-scale initiatives – would ensure that when the next natural disaster or Affordable Care Act-sized issue takes places that the federal government is ready to deal with it.

“We’ve been fortunate to have good executives in the past, but it wasn’t institutionalized,” Ink said.

The recommendations also call for Congress to be able to pre-authorize emergency measures so as to “facilitate congressional action during national crises.”

For more information and complete transcripts of the memos, visit www.memostoleaders.org.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.