At just over two years old, the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) has progressed towards implementation of its key provisions in May 2017, but progress has faced some key obstacles. Since its signing in May 2014, the DATA Act has challenged government agencies to improve their financial data management quality and transparency. This vision of transparency is still within sight if the momentum of implementation can be sustained. Read More
A former boss of mine used to say that when you hire a government civilian, “you’ve got what you’ve got and you’re stuck with them.” In 2011, a USA Today analysis of the job security of Federal employees found many federal employees were more likely to die than get fired from their jobs with the government.[i] With job security for federal employees over 99%, my old boss’ comment is not far from the truth. When an organization treats all employees the same, the highest performers and those with the most desirable skills tend to leave first. Read More
Mature organizations are not necessarily old organizations, but they do share the characteristic of wisdom we often attribute to more experienced people.
Wisdom is generally recognized as good problem-solving and decision-making through an integration of experience, knowledge, and deep understanding. Mature organizations are energetic, vibrant, results focused, innovative, caring, and calm. Having “institutional wisdom,” organizations can operate consistently (across quality, values, performance, results), and easily adapt to change with little to no drama whether or not the leader is present.
They regularly achieve high marks on quality, results, service, employee satisfaction, and adaptation to new realities. They proactively and realistically see issues before they become problems, are solution oriented, transparent, collaborate well with others inside and outside the organization, and get things done efficiently and effectively.
I realize this may sound utopic, but maintaining institutional wisdom is one of the critical roles of the leadership team. Without it, you are forever playing catch up in reacting to the world around you. What a mature organization looks like and how to get there is the subject of this brief article. Making it happen requires strong leadership, a cultural shift for some, and legislative action to reform the budget process and the civil service in a way that both honors federal employees and allows for strong management to support organizational effectiveness. Read More
As the Cheshire Cat tells us, if you don't know where you are going, any path will get you there. This suggests that if you are not clear about what you, your agency and your team are to "produce"—what the clear outcomes of your work are to be — then it is okay for staff to spend their time on whatever their current practices or preferences of work might be. This leads to a perspective that work—any work— is good, whether it is making a needed difference or not. What we need in our government is a focus on outcomes–the value delivered to the American people by a high-performing federal workforce. Read More