Breaking Down the President’s New Management Agenda

The White House issued its “new management agenda.”  Cynics, of course, will note that the President is announcing a “new” management agenda in the fifth year of his presidency. And, in fact, there wasn’t much new in Monday’s announcement outside of saying that the new director of the Office of Management and Budget Sylvia Mathews Burwell to spearhead the initiative.

“We’ve made some good progress on all fronts, but now we need to do more.  So today, I met with all my Cabinet, including a number of new Cabinet members, some of whom have extraordinary private sector experience, and I directed the Cabinet to develop an aggressive management agenda for my second term that delivers a smarter, more innovative, and more accountable government for its citizens.  And we’re going to continue to adopt good ideas from the private sector,” President Obama said at the White House.

Obama said the management-agenda reboot will focus on three areas where the administration has already seen success:

  • Finding ways to deliver government services more quickly and more conveniently. "Until recently, when a natural disaster struck, teams from FEMA had to rely exclusively on in-person inspections to figure out which families needed help.  Now they analyze satellite and aerial imagery and get housing assistance to areas that need it most, more quickly.  After Hurricane Sandy, most folks were able to sign up for assistance using FEMA’s mobile and web apps -- updating and checking the status of their applications.  And FEMA agents went door-to-door in some areas with iPads, helping residents who had lost power and Internet access sign up for disaster relief without leaving their homes.  So making sure that we’re delivering services better, faster, more efficiently."
  • Cutting duplicative and unnecessary programs. "Just by working to get rid of overlapping IT systems, we’ve identified more than $2.5 billion in savings across the federal government -- and that’s just the beginning.  I’ve proposed and signed into law the elimination of dozens of federal programs and cut even more that were either duplicative, not working, or no longer needed, saving billions of dollars a year.  And the basic principle is simple:  Taxpayers deserve the biggest bang for their buck, especially at a time when budgets are tight and we’ve got to do a lot more with less.  And now anyone can visit WhiteHouse.gov to see your “Taxpayer Receipt.”  It’s a literal receipt that tells you just how and where your tax dollars are being spent."
  • Expanding the number and type of government datasets provided online. "We’ve opened up huge amounts of government data to the American people, and put it on the Internet for free.  At Data.gov, you can search through and download more than 75,000 data sets -- data on everything from what different hospitals charge for different procedures, to credit card complaints, to weather and climate measurements.  And what’s happening is entrepreneurs and business owners are now using that data -- the people’s data -- to create jobs and solve problems that government can’t solve by itself or can’t do as efficiently."

Presidential Innovation Fellows Touts Success, Doubles Effort

In addition to announcing that the administration has a management agenda, Pres. Obama mentioned the second tranche of Presidential Innovation Fellows.

The White House chose a second class of 43 fellows late last month to work on nine different program areas that focus on bringing private- sector expertise to help solve public sector problems.

"These are Americans with vast private-sector technology expertise who have volunteered to come serve their country," said Obama.

  • The Fellows will work on the recently relaunched Healthcare.gov site, which will expand further on Oct. 1 to allow users to compare and shop for health insurance plans as part of the Affordable Care Act. "Americans will be able to log on and comparison shop an array of private health insurance plans, side-by-side -- just like you go online and compare the best deal on cars or the best deal on computers.  Because you’ll finally be part of a new pool with millions of other Americans, insurers will actually want to compete for your business.  And we’ve worked really hard to make these marketplaces user-friendly.  So, for example, when the prototype of an application to join the marketplace came in at 21 pages, we rejected it.  We said let’s do better.  It’s now three pages long.  And, by the way, that’s a lot shorter than the application you have to fill out for private insurance currently."
  • The government also plans to expand RFP-EZ, a project of the White House’s Office of Science and Technology Policy that is designed to reduce the administrative burden on small businesses looking to tap into federal procurement opportunities.

Obama Doubles Down on Executive Branch Reorg. 

Obama also renewed his call for Congress to reorganize and consolidate executive branch agencies.

"Almost every President from Herbert Hoover to Ronald Reagan had this authority to redesign the federal government, the executive branch, to deliver services better -- just like every business owner seeking to make sure that his or her company keep pace with the times.  Currently, we do not have that capacity.  And so I’m going to keep on doing what we can administratively, but we sure could use Congress’s help, particularly at a time when Congress is saying they want more efficient government -- they give a lot of lip service to it -- and we’re operating under severe fiscal constraints."

Obama issued a proposal to Congress last January to merge six business- and trade-related agencies into a single entity, but the measure has languished in Congress since then, reports Federal News Radio.

"It makes sense for us to be able to redesign government so that it can deliver on the functions that the American people are looking for.  We should all want a government that’s smarter, quicker, and more responsive to the needs of the American people."

  • "We're doing a lot of this work administratively, but unfortunately there are still a bunch of rules, a lot of legislation that has poorly designed some of our agencies and forces folks to engage in bureaucratic hoop-jumping instead of just going ahead and focusing on mission and good service to our citizens."
  • "I'm going to keep on doing what we can administratively, but we sure could use Congress' help, particularly at a time when Congress is saying they want more efficient government — they give a lot of lip service to it — and we're operating under severe fiscal constraints," Obama said.

You can read the full text here.

What do you think of the new management agenda? More of the same? A new approach?

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