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Making the federal government work better was the focus of discussion at a Kennedy School Forum on Tuesday night.
Several top management officials from the Bush Administration, including Mark Everson, deputy director for management with the Office of Management and Budget, shared their thoughts on improving performance and measuring results in the government workforce.
“The president believes in accountability,” Everson told the audience. He explained the administration has identified five government-wide problems in need of improvement: strategic management of human capital, competitive sourcing, financial management, technology-driven electronic government, and budget performance administration. “We have stayed on point with these five initiatives,” Everson continued. “And we are really driving this through all the (government) agencies.”
Among the Bush Administration innovations is a management scorecard, which “grades” agencies in a number of categories. “The president monitors these scorecards,” Everson said. “In Washington, only if the top officials drive it down does it work, and we’re doing it.”
David Chu, undersecretary of defense, personnel and readiness at the Department of Defense, told the Forum audience he believes important changes are taking hold. “When you having the president endorsing these objectives, (the career workers) respond,” he said. “They see this as a chance to merchandise their best ideas.”
Discussing the question of outsourcing, D. Cameron Findlay, deputy secretary at the Department of Labor, admitted that many career workers remain “suspicious” of the idea, but he said it is incumbent on managers to determine the best use of their workforce and their budgets. “It’s the sort of question that at least ought to be asked,” he said.
Leo MacKay, Jr., deputy secretary with the Department of Veterans Affairs, said he has instituted a monthly performance review at the VA, holding agency heads responsible for the human and financial resources under their purview. “We have tried at VA to flow down the things at the top of the president’s agenda and put them on the top of our agenda,” he said.
Everson believes the administration’s scorecard, using the stoplight system of green, yellow, and red, “has an impact."