Business of Government Blog Index

The Business of Government Blog has moved to a new address, as of May 10.  Please visit us in our new location at:  http://www.businessofgovernment.org/blogs/the-business-of-government

Please re-set your RSS feed to the new blog site address, as well. . . .

Following is an index of blog entries between the start, September 1, 2009, and the end of April 2010, organized around some major themes:

Web 2.0 and Social Media

Launching the BizGov Blog (09-01-09)

Blogs as Public Policy Forums (09-02-09)

Cloud Forecasting: A New Report (11-12-09)

Social Media Trends for Government in 2010 (11-25-09)

Gov/Web 2.0 Predictions for 2010 (01-06-10)

Virtual USA and Web 2.0 (03-19-10)

Middle Managers in a Web 2.0 World (03-31-10)

Using GIS to Increase Citizen Engagement (04-16-10)

Open and Transparent Government

What Do You Do With 110,000 Data Sets? (09-04-09)

New Transparency: Recovery.Gov (09-30-09)

Open Government: Implementation Guidance from OMB (12-09-09)

Implementing the Open Government Directive (12-15-09)

The Open Government Dialogue (Agencies launch 5-week effort) (02-09-10)

Making Sense of Open Gov Dialogues (02-10-10)

Virtual USA and Web 2.0 (03-19-10)

Congressional Transparency Caucus Formed (03-25-10)

Open Gov Plans Countdown (04-02-10)

Open Gov Plans Released, And . . . (04-09-10)

Scorecarding Agency Open Gov Plans (04-27-10)

HUD’s Open Gov Plan Focuses on Mission (05-05-10)

Collaboration

Using Czars to Govern (09-11-09)

Creating Spirit Communities (09-30-09) (based on book by Rosabeth Kantor)

The OMB Prize Memo (03-09-10)

Harnessing Informal Networks (03-10-10)

Virtual USA and Web 2.0 (03-19-10)

Passionate About Collaboration (04-23-10)

Citizen Participation

Blogs as Public Policy Forums (09-02-09)

Citizen Participation: An Update (09-15-09)

Using Crowdsourcing in Government (09-16-09)

Engaging Citizens in Oversight (09-22-09)

Citizen Engagement Newsletter by GSA (10-01-09)

On-Line Town Halls (10-26-09) Congressional Management Foundation Study

Citizen Participation: Other Countries Are Stepping Out (12-07-09)  UK and Australian Initiatives

Redefining the Role of Citizen in a Gov 2.0 World (02-04-10)

Using GIS to Increase Citizen Engagement (04-16-10)

Congress and Citizen Engagement (04-22-10)

Government Performance

The New Obama Performance Team (09-25-09)

Jump-Starting Performance Management (09-28-09) (Senator Carper Hearing)

Priorities and Principles for Performance (10-06-09) (OMB’s Zients Debute)

New Senate Task Force on Performance (10-23-09)

OMB’s New Performance Principles (10-29-09) (Zients’ Senate Budget Testimony)

More on the Senate Performance Hearing (10-30-09)

Data-Driven Performance: Senate Budget Hearing (12-11-09)

Happy Birthday GPRA! (12-16-09) by Jonathan Breul

Performance Reporting: Rhetoric vs. Reality (12-18-09) by Jonathan Breul

Using Performance Measures (12-22-09)

Managing Performance: A Series (12-23-09)

Model 1:  Performance Administration (12-24-09)

Model 2:  Siloed Performance Systems (12-28-09)

Model 3:  Performance Management Framework (12-29-09)

Model 4:  Performance Governance (12-30-09)

Obama’s FY 2011 Management Initiatives (02-02-10)

Obama’s Stealth Management Revolution (02-11-10)

The OMB Prize Memo (03-09-10)

Key National Indicators Are Now Real (03-23-10)

IRMCO 2010 (04-12-10) by Jonathan Breul (conference panel examining Obama Administration management initiatives)

Workforce and Employee Engagement

Federal  Jobs:  A New Era (09-03-09)

Recognizing Civil Servants (09-18-09)

Ask Employees How to Fix It, Part I (09-17-09)

ISO Good Ideas:  Ask Employees, Part II (09-23-09)

Governing by Suggestion Box (10-20-09)

Dealing with Poor Performers (10-16-09)

Motivating Workers (01-04-10)

Chances to Innovate (01-08-10)

Managing Guerrilla Employees (02-12-10)

Balancing Innovation, Risk, and Control (03-03-10)

How Leaders Make a Difference (03-04-10)

Middle Managers in a Web 2.0 World (03-31-10)

Mocking Public Service (04-29-10)

Labor-Management Forums and Performance (05-04-10)

Health Care Reform

Health Care Reform Implementation (Part 1)  (11-30-09)

Health Care Reform Implementation (Part 2) (12-03-09)

Doing Big Things in Government (12-01-09)

Sustaining Health Care Reform (12-02-09)

But will it work? (03-29-10) by Jonathan Breul

Implementing Health Care Reform (04-26-10)

Recovery Act

Engaging Citizens in Oversight (09-22-09)

New Transparency: Recovery.Gov (09-30-09)

Recovery Act: Shifting Mindsets (11-06-09)

Recovery Act Reporting (02-15-10)

Research Topic 2: Implementing the Recovery Act (02-24-10)

Implementing the Recovery Act: The Blog (03-17-10)

Contract Reform

The Insourcer’s Apprentice: OMB’s Jeff Liebman (10-8-09)

Out- and In-Sourcing: True Confessions (11-11-09)

Bottom-Up Procurement Reform (10-13-09)

OMB: Trying a Change in Tone to Collaborating with Agencies (10-22-09)

Acquisition 2.0:  OMB’s Latest Acquisition Guidance (10-28-09)

Signs of Procurement Revolution (11-24-09)

Obama Procurement Agenda (03-12-10)

Program Evaluation and Use of Analytics

New OMB Program Evaluation Guidance (10-07-09)

Davenport:  Make Better Decisions (10-27-09)

Risky Business:  What is Enterprise Risk Management? (10-15-09)

Financial Management

Fiscal Sanity: Lessons from Around the World (12-08-09) by Jonathan Breul

FY 2009 Financial and Performance Reports (12-10-09) by Jonathan Breul

Debt Commission in the FY 2011 Budget? (01-04-10) by Jonathan Breul

Fiscal Summit and America’s Fiscal Challenges (05-06-10)

Presidential Transition, the First Year

Link to the IBM Center’s Presidential Transition Blog, 2008-2009

Falling Behind on Appointments (09-24-09)

Searching for a New Comptroller General (12-14-09) by Jonathan Breul

Improving the Presidential Transition (01-12-10) by Michael Keegan

TWOFER (two new reports: Assessment of Presidential Transition and Fiscal Future) (01-14-10) by Jonathan Breul

Leadership Matters (Rajiv Shah, USAID, and Haiti Earthquake) (01-15-10)

Lessons on Reform

Lessons of Reinvention (09-07-09)

Dispatch from Saudi Arabia (11-2-09) an International Conference on Public Administration

Reinventing Saudia Arabia (11-03-09)

Saudi Conference: Lessons for Us (11-05-09)

Recovery Act: Shifting Mindsets (11-06-09)

Calling on Corporate Leaders: Now vs. Then (White House CEO Forum on Modernizing Government) (01-19-10)

Finding Bright Spots (01-25-10)

Doing What Works (a new initiative by the Center for American Progress) (02-18-10)

Why Execution Stalls (03-08-10)

Modernizing Government: Forum Results (03-24-10)

Australian Management Reform (04-06-10)

White House Management Advisory Board (04-21-10)

Agency Transformation

HUD Transformation Initiative (01-12-10)

HUD’s Open Gov Plan Focuses on Mission (05-05-10)

Veterans Affairs: “Transformation 21″ and Beyond (01-21-10)

Public Management Research

Framing a Public Management Research Agenda (02-22-10)

Topic 1: Performance Improvement and Analysis (02-23-10)

Topic 2: Implementing the Recovery Act (02-24-10)

Topic 3: Federal Contracting and Acquisition (02-25-10)

Topic 4: Technology, Transparency, and Participatory Democracy (02-26-10)

A High Performance Government (04-13-10) Volcker’s new reform campaign

Oversight

Engaging Citizens in Oversight (09-22-09)

Searching for a New Comptroller General (12-14-09) by Jonathan Breul

Final Four to lead the GAO? (03-22-10) by Jonathan Breul

Congressional Transparency Caucus Formed (03-25-10)

5 (not just 4) names to be Comptroller General (03-26-10) by Jonathan Breul

Deperately Seeking a Watchdog (04-05-10) by Jonathan Breul

Conversations with Leaders and The Business of Government Magazine

The Business of Government Magazine: Fall 2009 (12-09-09) by Michael Keegan

Conversation on Human Service Delivery in New York City (02-05-10) by Michael Keegan

Allen, Thad (12-11-09)  by Michael Keegan

Childs, Robert (12-29-09) by Michael Keegan

Clancy, Carolyn (02-01-10) by Michael Keegan

Fauci, Anthony (12-10-09) by Michael Keegan

Fugate, Craig (02-17-10) by Michael Keegan

Hunter, Christine (01-08-10) by Michael Keegan

Thompson, Alan (01-06-10) by Michael Keegan

Triay, Ines (01-23-10) by Michael Keegan

Labor-Management Forums and Performance

Some things can move fast in bureaucracies!  President Obama signed Executive Order 13522, “Creating Labor-Management Forums to Improve Delivery of Government Services,” in early December to resurrect the labor-management partnerships from the Clinton era. OMB guidance on developing agency implementation plans came out a few weeks later.  To date, a national council has been created – and held substantive meetings – and 50 agencies have submitted plans to the Council on how they are going to implement the Order.  The Council reviewed the plans last month and sent half of them back for revisions, which are due later this week.

The E.O. is framed around an appealing premise: “Federal employees and their union representatives are an essential source of front-line ideas and information about the realities of delivering Government services to the American people.”   The forums are to be “nonadversarial” and comprised of managers, employees, and employees’ union representatives.

OMB guidance also clarifies that the effort is intended to focus the role of these forums on achieving measurable results that align with agencies’ missions and strategic goals.

What is in the E.O.? The E.O. says agencies will work with unions to:

  • Establish, or adapt, existing department- or agency-level labor-management forums (LMFs) “at appropriate levels in their organizations.
  • Allow employees and their union representatives to have pre-decisional involvement in workplace matters “to the fullest extent practicable.”
  • Evaluate and document changes in employee satisfaction, manager satisfaction, and organizational performance resulting from LMFs
  • Develop written implementation plans, which were due March 9th..

These plans are expected to describe:

  • the process the Agency will undertake to design and implement LMFs at appropriate levels within the Agency;
  • the process the LMF will undertake to develop a limited number of mission-linked or process-improving performance goals;  and
  • a plan for developing Agency and/or bargaining unit-specific metrics to monitor progress toward these goals and performance trends in key areas such as labor-management satisfaction, productivity gains, cost savings, and other measures as identified by the relevant LMF participants.

What Are Some of the Best Practices Related to Performance?

The Council has identified some best practices related to improving agency performance, to date. For example:

  • In the area of mission-linked or process-improving performance goals, the Department of Education says it will adopt metrics from the 2008 federal human capital survey and identify mission and process goals after receiving input from lower level forums and joint work groups.
  • Veterans Affairs says it will use annual employee survey and labor-management collaboration to develop metrics.
  • the National Credit Union Administration is the first national partnership agreement under the new EO .  In it, all parties have  agreed to bargain over “(b)(1)” issues (which define the scope of bargaining), regarding the methods and means of performing work.

Probably one of the best plans so far is the one developed by the Department of Homeland Security.  Its plan establishes a good overall framework for engagement and commits to conducting a baseline assessment of the Department’s labor-management relations by September 2010.

What’s Next?

Agencies will need to submit a report on their progress by the end of the year.  The E.O. sunsets in December 2011, so there is pressure on all sides to demonstrate its value in contributing to measurable progress toward improving government services!

Have you heard anything in your agency about the forums?

Mocking Public Service

National Public Service Award

Just in time for the national Public Service Recognition Week, Saturday Night Live aired a biting satire:  “The 2010 Public Employee of the Year Award.” In the skit, several finalists for the award strut their stuff.  For example, a fictitious Markeesha Odom says she helped lead her DMV team to ensure no one received a drivers license over the course of a full day!  And the fictitious ceremony was held in a filled hall in Harrah’s in Las Vegas (which Sen. Harry Reid would approve!).

An ongoing dialogue on GovLoop swings between bemusement and outrage over the skit, but the skit reached a national audience.  Meanwhile, two weeks ago, the National Public Service Award was presented to five distinguished public servants.  The presentation was made in San Jose at a small luncheon during the conference of the American Society for Public Administration.  However, distinguished participants in the ceremony included both former Comptroller General David Walker and former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker.  Recipients include:

  • the current head of the Office of Personnel Management, John Berry;
  • veteran city manager Ted Gaebler;
  • GAO veteran Sallyanne Harper;
  • a scientist at NIH, Kenneth Kraemer; and
  • Bernard Melekian, a former police chief and current head of the Justice Department’s community policing program.

The award has been given since 1983 as a way of recognizing the heroes in public service.  But it hasn’t received much media attention.

Nevertheless, the effort to recognize public service, however, is making progress.  President Obama talks about “making public service cool again.”  The Partnership for Public Service annually presents its Service to America Medals at a grand celebration each Fall in Washington to recognize accomplishments.  And more recently, Senator Ted Kaufman has been recognizing “Great Feds” weekly in the Congressional Record, and the Washington Post has been weekly recognizing federal employees in its “Federal Players” column.

In addition, the IBM Center’s weekly radio show has showcased a different federal executive every week, for the past decade.  So I guess I shouldn’t complain too much.  But the timing of the SNL skit may have been a bit much for me!

Passionate About Collaboration

Collaboration is one of the key elements of President Obama’s signature Open Government Initiative.  However, federal agencies’ Open Government Plans don’t seem to address it very well.   But collaboration expert Russ Linden says “collaboration is vital, difficult, and learnable.”  And he’s written a book that makes all three of these points.

If you, like many other in government, think collaboration is becoming a critical part of your being successful, his “how to” book is worth reading.  In “Leading Across Boundaries,” Linden draws on two decades of insights, noting:

“Most people in Western countries have two fundamental needs that must be met if they are to be effective in the workplace.  These needs are (1) to be competent (and respected as such) and (2) to belong, to connect to something larger than themselves.

 

“These two needs are expressed in four questions that most team members ask (not necessarily out loud):

 

  1. Do I have something to contribute that is needed, recognized, and used by the team?
  2. Are we working on a project that is important to me and my own organization?
  3. Are we making progress: do we have a reasonable chance for success?
  4. How will this project support or threaten any of my core needs or interests (and those of my home organization)?”

 

He goes on to observe that when team members can answer these positively, that there’s a greater chance for collaborative behavior in the team, and that collaboration is a means to an end, and not an end in itself.

It’s Vital. Linden illustrates how a collaborative mindset is vital with the story of Hurricane Katrina, where FEMA director Michael Brown thought his job was to manage FEMA and couldn’t control other agencies outside his span of control.  In contrast, his successor, Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen, saw his role as coordinating a huge network of agencies.  He did this by emphasizing transparency of information a ongoing communications.

It’s Difficult.  Linden covers all the tough parts of doing collaboration:  how do you create and sustain trust among the group’s members?  How do you share information?  How do you navigate the different organizational cultures that may be involved in a collaboration (for example, how do you. blend law enforcement and social workers on the same team)?  And how do you deal with difficult people?  He notes that “collaboration inevitably requires negotiation, give and take, and compromise.  Each is easier in the context of a trusting relationship.”  But you often face “huge egos, empire builders, information hoarders, and cultures that reinforce them.”  He offers examples, and techniques to help overcome these difficulties.

It’s Learnable.  The most encouraging part of Linden’s book is that collaborative mindsets are learnable.  He offers key collaborative factors (such as ensuring the appropriate people are at the table).  He defines the tasks and roles of champions and sponsors.  He offers tools and techniques.  He describes strategies for establishing commitment to a project.  And most importantly, he does all of this by using real-life case examples and not theory.  These examples are federal, state, local, non-profit and international in scope.  These include examples of co-locating operations, such as state fusion centers, and the use of data-driven approaches, such as Washington State’s GMAP initiative.

And why is Russ Linden passionate about collaboration?   He concludes his book with: “I am convinced that a collaborative mindset is the leadership characteristic most critical for dealing with the networked world of the twenty-first century.”  I agree!

A High Performance Government

Paul Volcker, Indefatigable Government Reformer

While Jonathan Breul is attending the IRMCO Conference in Cambridge, Maryland, I’m attending the annual conference of the American Society for Public Administration in San Jose, California.  I understand it’s sunny in Cambridge. . . it’s rainy in San Jose!

Today, Paul Volcker delivered the Elliot Richardson lecture and during the course of his presentation, he said he was personally funding a new public service reform effort that he calls a “Campaign for a High Performance Government.”  Now, Mr. Volcker – a former head of the Fed and currently an economic adviser to President Obama – has already chaired two commissions dedicated to improving public service.  The first, in 1987, was formally called “The National Commission on Public Service,” but informally called “The Volcker Commission.”  It issued its final report in 1989 with recommendations to improve the public service: “Leadership for America: Rebuilding the Public Service.” (if you know of a link to the actual report, please provide it in the comment section!)

The second, in 2001, bore the same name and issued a report in 2003 entitled: “Urgent Business for America: Revitalizing the Federal Government for the 21st Century.”  (thanks to Trey for the link).

He has felt neither of the earlier efforts led to sufficient reforms, so this third try will inventory the status of the public service, document the need for action, and identify steps for reform – such as cutting layers of management, streamlining the political appointment process, and slashing the number of political appointees (all of which were recommendations in the earlier reports).  He says this effort will also include an extensive outreach campaign to educate the public on the need for action.

Mr. Volcker says this project will be centered at the Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University under the direction of Paul Light and Hannah Sistare.  He also said that the NYU team would like to collaborate with other groups that share their urgency on the need to act.

IRMCO 2010

This week the General Services Administration (GSA) is hosting its 49th annual Interagency Resources Management Conference.    An estimated 300 Chief Acquisition Officers, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Information Officers, Chief Human Capital Officers, Inspectors General, program managers and other senior executive leaders are attending.   It is the most well known government-wide, government-only conference where leaders delve into emerging management issues and how they are being confronted.  You can learn more about IRMCO at www.irmco.gov

This morning I moderated a panel “Expanding on the Management Agenda” with the four senior Office of Management and Budget officials who are leading the Obama Adminstration’s management efforts:

  • Vivek Kundra, Chief Information Officer and Administrator for E-Government and Technology,
  • Danny Werfel, Controller, Office of Federal Financial Management,
  • Dr. Shelley Metzenbaum, Associate Director for Performance and Personnel Management, and
  • Daniel Gordon, Administrator, Office of Federal Procurement Policy

Together they addressed the 6 strategies that according to OMB’s Jeff Zients “offer the greatest potential to improve performance”

  1. Eliminate waste,
  2. Drive top priorities,
  3. Leverage purchasing scale,
  4. Close the IT performance gap,
  5. Open government to get results, and
  6. Attract and motivate top talent.

Importantly, they did not dwell on each of the 6 strategies so much as explain how they are working together, in what I would describe as a pragmatic, problem-solving approach – looking to take the best of what works – in other governments, the private sector and recent federal efforts – to transform the way government works.   It is apparent from their individual priorities as well as the way they describe how they are working together that the current OMB team is operating in a very coordinated and integrated fashion – where fixing problems and improving mission performance is no longer “someone else’s  job,”  but instead, everyone’s  job.

Australian Management Reform

I got a GovLoop tweet alerting me to a new report, optimistically titled: “Ahead of the Game: Blueprint for the Reform of the Australian Government Administration.” Australia has long served as a source of innovation and inspiration in government reforms, so I eagerly downloaded and read it.

Bottom line:  interesting but not exciting.  It does a good job of assessing the status of the existing public service and offers a set of nine “signature reforms:”

  • Delivering better services for citizens
  • Creating more open government
  • Enhancing policy capability
  • Reinvigorating strategic leadership
  • Introducing a new Australian Public Service Commission (like our Office of Personnel Management)  to drive change and provide strategic planning
  • Clarifying and aligning employment conditions
  • Strengthening the workforce
  • Ensuring agency agility, capability and effectiveness
  • Improving agency efficiency

Many of the recommendations are for studies, not action, using phrases such as “commission project work to develop options for Government consideration,” and “systematically examine,” and “options would be developed.”

The US efforts around “creating more open government” are much further along.  For example, tomorrow all agencies are to submit their Open Government Plans on how they will implement the December 2009 guidance from OMB.  In Australia, they plan to “develop advice for Government consideration.”

However, there are some ideas worth a second look, especially by the US.

The report recommends the creation of a “Secretaries Board” and an “APS 200” leadership group.  The Secretaries Board would be equivalent to the U.S. government’s already-existing President’s Management Council, and the APS 200 would be the 200 most distinguished career senior executives in their civil service (an intriguing idea!).  There is no existing equivalent in the US.

These groups would be called upon by to lead special projects – such as a systematic examination of how to better use technology to improve service delivery — and be champions for cross-government values such as diversity, service responsiveness, and equal employment.

Another task for the group would be done in conjunction with their equivalent to OMB — “to propose a set of shared outcomes across portfolios,” such as homelessness or national security.

However, many of the reform recommendations deal with strengthening the internal capacity of the government – improving strategic workforce planning, revisiting core values, strengthening staff learning and development, and streamlining the hiring process (a familiar issue, for the U.S.!).