Yesterday President Obama hosted a “Fiscal Responsibility Summit” around five issues: Health Care, Social Security, Tax Reform, Procurement, and Budget Process. The first three are largely policy; the last two focus on two elements of improving government management. The 130 attendees to the conference participated in breakout groups that addressed each of the five issues. Here are reports from the two management-related groups:
The procurement breakout group seemed to focus on Defense procurement over-runs and providing additional oversight. The focus seemed to be on prevention of overruns, not fixing the broken process.
The budget process breakout group unanimously agreed that the existing process was broken. However, there was no solution proposed. The group seemed to focus more on creating a commission to examine things, and whether that was a good idea.
Two things that seemed to stand out to me: first, that all five of these issues will be “on the table” together; and second, it looks like there’s going to be follow up. Here’s what the President said:
I want to make sure that the conversation doesn’t end when we go home today. We’ve got a lot of hard choices to make. We need to build off this afternoon’s conversation and work together to forge a consensus.
So one of the things that I’m hoping to do is that my team, each of whom were taking copious notes during the course of these respective breakout sessions, will issue a report or a summary of the conversation. It will be distributed to each of the participants in those respective discussions. We will then ask for concrete ideas, either about substance or process, and we will ask that you get those back so that we can then issue a final report coming out of this conversation in 30 days.
And we’re — I think somebody just dubbed this the “fiscal sustainability project,” so that’s as good of a name as any. And the idea then is, is that there will be a constant loop between the White House and all of you about how we should move forward on this, and hopefully this will start breaking down into some concrete takeaways and tasks.
It’ll be interesting to see if another “czar” is appointed to lead this effort!