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FCW : January 2013
Commentary | JULIE M. ANDERSON JULIE M. ANDERSON is chief operating of cer at Civitas Group. She formerly served as acting assistant secretary for policy and planning and deputy assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the Department of Veterans Affairs. In an era of divided government, one thing everyone can agree on is that the government should oper- ate more effectively and ef ciently. President Obama has an opportuni- ty to build on his rst-term success- es and continue improving the man- agement of government resources, of which IT is a signi cant portion. Obama made progress in stream- lining government operations and improving performance through the multipronged Accountable Govern- ment Initiative. In particular, the Obama administration made great strides in moving IT applications to cloud-based technologies, consoli- dating duplicative programs, and reviewing federal contracts to iden- tify fraud, waste and overpayments. Although those activities have saved money, the practices might not continue beyond the next four years without further action. As administration of cials con- tinue honing their management of government and IT investment agendas for the next four years, they would bene t from re ning various initiatives and activities to delineate a coordinated, strategic approach to institutionalize lasting change. More speci cally, administra- tion leaders should consider the following three principles to guide their decisions about management priorities, policies and resource allocation. 1. Prepare the government to transition to a new operating model. An integrated model that re ects the interdependent manage- ment functions of strategy, budget, nance, IT, acquisition and human capital will enable higher perfor- mance of the mission-oriented work of a department. The strategic management process should consist of ve repeatable steps: develop a strategy, formulate a budget, plan and execute activities, measure results, and apply data to making decisions about future activities. 2. De ne the government's fundamental decision rules and risk pro les before introduc- ing the latest technology. An agency should turn to implementing tactical changes, such as connect- ing employees mobile devices to agency networks, only after it deter- mines what is and is not acceptable to its core mission. 3. Improve performance man- agement by measuring out- comes and reducing reporting requirements. It is common for organizations to fall into the trap of measuring the amount of effort put into speci c activities, which means they are measuring out- puts rather than true outcomes. The Of ce of Management and Budget and other agencies have made some progress in reorienting performance management to be outcome-oriented. But more work remains to be done. In addition, reducing the over- all number of measures collected and reported will help focus lim- ited resources on the activities of highest value. In other words, if everything is a priority, nothing is a priority. OMB s High Priority Perfor- mance Goals have helped agencies identify a top tier of measurements to focus on, but ongoing efforts should also include removing unused or unnecessary measures. Measuring the highest-priority, most meaningful outcomes will produce data that can be used to inform decision-making at senior levels of government, which will ultimately improve performance. Building on those three principles will require leadership, innovative ideas, signi cant energy and the will- ingness to take calculated risks. But the bene ts of investing in enhanced operations for government organi- zations far outweigh the time and effort required of all stakeholders. Only when strategic frameworks and repeatable processes are institution- alized will management improve- ments be sustained far beyond the 44th president s tenure. ■ Building a bold second-term management agenda President Barack Obama should continue improving the management of government resources, including IT, by adhering to three basic principles The benefits of investing in enhanced operations for government organizations far outweigh the time and effort required of all stakeholders. 12 January 2013 FCW.COM