How Do You Measure the Effectiveness of Government?

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With the 24-hour news cycle and at-your-fingers access to the latest stories, the American people have plenty of information constantly available to them. And whether they know it or not, they are using much of that information as a de facto source for evaluating the effectiveness of government.

Each of us serves as a self-contained big data processor, tagging data elements in our own minds and using the information later to formulate decisions such as preferred presidential candidates, favored legislative efforts, and opinions about policy nuances that we may not even understand to be nuanced or policy-related.

With this context in mind, I aim to bring some clarity and simplification to a question that has very complex and multidimensional answers: How do the American people measure the effectiveness of government? For this article, I will use the term “government” to refer collectively to federal, state and local entities. Read More


Here’s Our Chance to Fix Government Once and for All

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The federal government is on an unsustainable fiscal path that threatens our national security and social safety net. While many cuts and changes have taken place, government has yet to address the effective management of programs that serve the American people. Read More


9 Key Steps to Cyber-Preparation

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We are dealing with a systemic crisis—critical government information is being hacked and falling into the hands of "evil doers," and there appears to be no end in sight.

Hardly a week goes by when we don't hear of some attack. Lately we've been hearing a lot about identity theft of Personal Identifiable Information (PII) which can harm individuals, as well as our national security. While that is certainly cause for concern, the threat can go far beyond intelligence leaks, industrial espionage, or personal financial impact. Imagine a world where hackers take control of airplanes and automobiles, alter medication dosages, interfere with the ability of first responders, take control of our C3 systems, or shut down our electrical grid. Read More


Defining and Achieving Efficiency in Government

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Inefficient and ineffective federal agency programs have been chronicled for eons. Most of the discussions center around making government cost less, cutting budgets, or holding hearings on perceived program lapses. With these actions, cost is sometimes eliminated, service levels are possibly reduced, or resources are condensed. This allows the argument that the government overall is more efficient, but that does not mean programs are efficiently operated or managed. Because of this high-level approach, most managers don't relate to what efficiency truly is or how to achieve it, and many opportunities that could make government work better are left on the table. Read More


Leadership Get Ready

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We need our federal employees—career executives and managers—to be prepared for the upcoming transition to a new administration next year, and at the same time we need to increase the stature of federal employment. At a minimum, these transitions must refocus federal employees on a revised strategy or agenda. The 2016 presidential election will, as is typical, create a level of disruption while the political leadership of each agency transitions. Our career leaders are the stabilizing catalyst that must ensure the proverbial train keeps moving efficiently, effectively and on time. Read More


Don’t Wait for Congress to Improve Agency Effectiveness

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We've all heard the stories -- programs that cost too much, duplication and fragmentation, fraud, waste and abuse. You can hardly pick up a federal news report without hearing about a program in some agency that is suspected, or shown, to be in trouble. The yearly reports from GAO attest to the significant issues that abound.

Currently, Congress is working on reintroducing a bill that will help agencies transform their programs so they are efficient, effective, credible, and economical. We all agree that systemic change is needed, but in the hustle and bustle of getting day-to-day activity accomplished, meeting administration agendas, and trying to work in an environment of uncertainty, waste just happens. Read More


Batter Up: 5 Things Workforce Planners Can Learn From Fantasy Baseball

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It’s that time of year again. Baseball superfans know what I’m talking about. It’s time to draft your fantasy baseball team. If you’re like millions of Americans, you’re grabbing your peanuts and Cracker Jacks and getting ready for an exciting season.

For many, the fantasy draft isn’t a one-and-done event. Avid baseball fans actively observe signings, releases, injuries and news about prospects throughout the off-season. People who would otherwise cringe in the face of data find themselves knee deep in acronyms like OBP and WAR, and statistically normed stats. They know how to separate the five-tool players from those who wear their glove on the wrong hand. Read More


Do These 6 Things Now to Prepare for the DATA Act

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By now everyone is familiar with the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act (DATA Act) passed by Congress last year with specific deadlines and know that Treasury, OMB, and others are busy preparing to address its requirements to disclose direct expenditures and link them to contracts, loans and grants. It requires the establishment of standards, improvements in the quality of data and streamlined reporting through the use of USASpending.gov. It may also, at the discretion of the Secretary of Treasury, establish a data analysis center to facilitate better analysis and increase efficiency. If implemented correctly, the act could provide an underlying framework to support not only transparency and accountability in government, but the improvement in efficiency and effectiveness of government programs. Read More


6 Simple Fixes for the Federal Procurement Process

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As the largest buyer of goods and services in the world, our government has a rigorous procurement process in place to protect the American taxpayer, designed to facilitate helping Uncle Sam buy what he needs to perform his myriad missions efficiently, effectively, and economically. Unfortunately, the federal government fails to spend taxpayer money wisely with such frequency that newspapers and television reports are rife with examples of overspending, failed projects and bloated contracts. Read More


Can Transparency Be Legislated?

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In May 2014, President Obama signed the DATA Act into law. The crux of the law is simple: Make financial data across government available in a standardized format. As a result, stakeholders will speak a common financial data language.

This is an important step toward government consistency, but not necessarily a culturally transformative event. Let’s step back for a second and think about what “transparency” truly means. Imagine a clear plastic screen replaces the wall between your office and your co-worker’s office. Day in and day out, you are able to see the interactions of your nearest work neighbor. In some ways, your neighbor’s actions are transparent -- you can see her every move. However, you are still missing a key component -- context. Why is she talking to those people? Why is she visiting that website? You can certainly use contextual cues to make an educated guess, but your guess and others’ guesses would probably not mesh completely. Read More