Re-energizing the Management Agenda

Compared to the focus on management during both the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, President Obama's interest has waned in recent years. This summer's short speech on management was fairly obligatory and couldn't have been shorter or unfortunately, more ignored. Peter Orzag, the President's first Director at Office of Management and Budget (OMB), a clear champion of performance and better management, recently published this article. However, his early departure downshifted management priorities in the first term.

Now, the end of the shutdown and a predictable citizen's backlash on ill conceived management decisions seem to some like a chance for a fresh start for the Administration and perhaps President Obama's management priorities as well. Just this week, the new OMB leadership team finally was put in place, with a new Management Director, Beth Cobert, who is almost completely unknown in Washington and with next to no government experience. One interesting piece of insight came from then Federal CIO Steven VanRoekel who told a recent audience not to expect "three ring binders and press releases." Given burnout on new buzzword laden initiatives and a resource crunch to simply get through the fiscal year, this is a winning move; instead small successes and the continued implementation of the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act (GPRMA) should be considered victories.  <\/p>\r\n

Much more intriguing than top down pronouncements are the continued progress we continue to see in a variety of bureaus, departments and sub-cabinet level organizations. A recent example of the promising practices we're seeing bubble up below the Cabinet level includes The US Army Corps of Engineers. At The Corps, military leadership working with civilian senior executives have implemented a ""4x4" Campaign Plan that simply and elegantly outlines the four key goals in four distinct areas. All goals and the corresponding actions are structured in a logic model format, with early outcomes in critical areas like National Water Resources and National Infrastructure utilized to spot early success as well as potential early warning signs of trouble.

Army Corps leadership was recently told by OMB that the Campaign Plan has simply and successfully communicated priorities, challenges and accomplishments to the Administration. For an agency that until recently had most of its work dictated through Congressional earmarks, this new strategic approach is showing a new level of management maturity and gaining advocates for linking budgets to outcomes.

Those of us thinking about the next Management Agenda and how the Administration will tackle performance issues, perhaps the best thing to do is to examine the successes around government that needed only strong agency leadership and a determined course of action.

Posted in Performance Pickup

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