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FCW : October 30, 2012
October 30, 2012 FCW.COM 11 Commentary | ALAN BALUTIS ALAN BALUTIS is senior director and distinguished fellow at Cisco Systems' Internet Business Solutions Group. Four years ago, I guided an 18-month initiative to develop a management agenda for the then-incoming 44th president of the United States. That initiative involved: • A year-long seminar series to tap into the collective wisdom of experts with proven knowledge of how to handle the challenges of management in government. • A partnership with The Public Manager and other journals to publicize and distribute ndings and insights from the seminar discussions and individual experts. • Close collaboration with other organizations, associations, universities, nonpro t groups, think tanks, and so on to jointly support innovative ideas to improve government and the delivery of services to the public. • A website (NewIdeasfor Government.org) to which individuals from within and outside government were invited to submit new ideas to improve the management of government. This year, I am involved with sev- eral good government and academic associations that are similarly gather- ing ideas and initiatives to present to the new administration and Congress after the election in November. At a recent meeting here in Washington, D.C., several colleagues laid out their proposed report, which focused on the human resources arena. It was a nicely framed, well-researched and eminently reasonable report. But the audience s reaction left me both surprised and chastened. We all know that our nation is facing challenging times. The lame duck Congress that will reconvene in November must keep the country from going over a scal cliff. Law- makers must deal with the threat of sequestration, the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts, a budget for scal 2013 to extend the existing six-month continuing resolution, and an exten- sion of the federal debt limitations. At our current pace, by 2080 the total cost of government will be more than three times the revenue. And there are other challenges: the continuing war on terrorism, increasing economic competition from emerging world powers such as China and India, rising energy costs, environmental concerns, and unknown new problems and threats. We hear again and again that govern- ment needs to change, that it needs to be better managed, that it needs to be atter, more connected, less hierarchical. In other words, we need a 21st-century government. That s what our audience of fel- lows at the National Academy of Public Administration told us at our recent meeting. We are at a govern- ment management watershed, they said, and are hungry for initiatives that will remake the federal bureau- cracy. So where are the big, bold ideas to do so, they asked? The words of Donald Kettl, dean of the University of Maryland s School of Public Policy, rang in my mind. In the opening article from our 2008 forum on the need for a new management agenda, Kettl argued: "Never has American history seen a time when management has been more impor- tant but the stock of ideas has been so low." If we are at a watershed in mod- ern government, where is the torrent of initiatives that will remake our bureaucracy? Where are the think- ers who will banish our 1950s-era federal processes and structures and remake Washington, D.C.? And why do our career and political leaders --- intelligent, thoughtful men and women who have been educated at America s nest institutions --- seem so painfully and embarrassingly short of new ideas? I need to think more about this myself. Why is our government man- agement reform cupboard so bare? What do you think? E-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. ■ We hear again and again that government needs to change, that it needs to be better managed, that it needs to be flatter, more connected, less hierarchical. So why is our reform cupboard so bare? Where are the bold ideas for remaking government? The nation faces a wide range of formidable challenges, but ideas for tackling them seem to be in painfully short supply
October 15, 2012
November 15, 2012