Creating “National Strategies”

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HLS National StrategyThe Government Accountability Office, in an assessment of the implementation of the Government Performance and Results Act several years ago, said “Congress should consider amending GPRA to require the President to develop a governmentwide strategic plan.” The President’s Office of Management and Budget says the President’s annual budget serves as the government’s strategic plan. But in reality there are long-term, large-scale, multi-agency, and multi-sector challenges that need to be integrated.

Necessity created just such a process. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the White House recognized the criticality of developing a long-term national – not just a federal – approach to fighting terrorism and ensuring homeland security. President Bush used a relatively new policy vehicle – “national strategy” plans – as a way of creating an overarching strategic plan around a specific need or outcome, such as anti-terrorism.

The White House issued a 90-page National Strategy for Homeland Security, in July 2002. It addresses the threat of terrorism in the US and focuses on the domestic efforts of the federal, state, local and private sectors. It identifies major goals that are implemented via presidential directives. Since then, about a dozen other National Strategies have been issued, mainly dealing with national and homeland security issues – drug control, cyber-security, etc.

The debate is whether the Strategies have any teeth. GAO’s studies suggest there are no control or accountability mechanisms. Other countries that have attempted governmentwide strategic planning efforts have had mixed results for similar reasons. Still, some of the major challenges facing the nation suggest the need for a strategic, long-term approach.

Should the next President extend the use of National Strategies or come up with other ways to provide focus and leadership on issues of long-term national importance?

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One Response to “Creating “National Strategies””

  1. Cynthia Says:

    I feel that the time has come for all Americans to come to the realization that the “world” as we know it will never again be what it once was. Bush has had the right idea with the use of “national strategy” planning, but the government as a whole has not been behind this tactic.

    As an employee of a public school system, I have seen the value of having strategic plans for our emergency situations. Almost any private industry you care to look into has strategic planning in place and it is not a novel idea, but an ingrained part of business success. You need to know ahead of time what is the plan of action. If A happens then you do B, if C happens then you do D, etc.

    This, however, is not to say that there may not also be another means to assist in the leadership effort. There are many ways to form a plan, and I personally feel that ALL means should be used to create as safe and secure an environment as is possible for our nation’s people.

    No matter who is our next elected leader, they will have, no doubt, a daunting task handed to them from day one on the job. It is easy to sit back and play “Monday morning quarterback”, to second guess what should or should not be done, but it is quite another when you are the one making the calls.

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