Chief Performance Officer Jeff Zients

Jeffrey Zeints

Jeffrey Zients

Earlier this week, the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a confirmation hearing for Jeff Zients, President Obama’s choice to be the first Chief Performance Officer and deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget.  Who is he and what did he say?

Who is he? Elise Castelli, Federal Times, profiled Zients a few weeks ago:  “From 1999 to 2004, Zients was chairman of Advisory Board, a successful health care consulting firm. From 2000 through 2001, he also was chairman of Advisory Board’s sister company, Corporate Executive Board. Under his leadership, the two management consulting firms went from making millions of dollars to making billions.”  She went on to note that he was seen by his peers as “very analytical” and developed a collaborative business model.  While he’s not had government experience, his approach may well be effective in a government environment.

What did he say? Here is Zient’s formal statement to the committee and some excerpts from media coverage of that hearing:

Rebecca Neal, Federal Times:

  • Zients said he is concerned the government doesn’t have hiring and succession plans in place to replace the large numbers of baby boomers who soon will be eligible to retire.
  • He pointed particularly to the need to expand and strengthen the acquisition workforce.
  • Zients said he will work to return inherently governmental work to civil servants but does not discount the value of contractors in certain fields.
  • Zients said improving federal Web sites and improving transparency is one of his priorities,
  • “I believe leadership starts with putting the right team together and measuring the goals for the organization,” he said.

Max Cacas, WFED Radio:

  • Zients’ management philosophy: “As a CEO, I’ve always focused on three areas: leadership, measurement and a motivated workforce. I believe leadership starts with putting the right team together, and articulating the right goals for the organization. Measurement means translating these goals into an operating plan with clear metrics. A motivated workforce means creating an environment to attract and keep the best talent. I believe these three are the keys to strong performance.”
  • Zients says he favors a more collaborative approach involving all stakeholders to create a better system than PART.
  • He supports President Obama’s call to redefine “inherently governmental work,” to determine what jobs need to be brought back into the federal service and which jobs are more appropriately outsourced to outside contractors.

Elizabeth Newell, Government Executive:

  • Zients “provided a long list of priorities he would address if he becomes deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget. These included developing a usable set of performance metrics, improving the effectiveness of government according to those measures, revitalizing the federal workforce, and increasing transparency and accountability across government.”
  • “The test of a performance management system is, is it being used to make important resource allocation and budget decisions,” Zients said during the hearing. “I’m looking forward, if confirmed, to taking a collaborative approach, working with all the stakeholders, to develop a system.”
  • “With Recovery Act reporting from recipients and subrecipients . . . .  we should be planning on a broader deployment of the recovery solution so that transparency of federal spending extends to all taxpayer dollars.”

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One Response to “Chief Performance Officer Jeff Zients”

  1. Christine Heflin Says:

    Rather than replace us baby boomers, the Federal Government should use “Lean” analysis to streamline processes and eliminate many positions. The problem is not just programs that don’t produce but programs that have too many levels of review and are staff heavy. Accountability is supported by simplicity. When 20 people edit one memo, you don’t know who to blame, if it says the wrong thing.

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