Posts Tagged ‘Chief Management Officer’

Defense Reform and the Transition

October 29, 2008

The next president’s Defense leadership team will not only be inheriting the war but also inheriting a major, ongoing transformation of Defense mission support functions.  Philip Candreva, acting director of the Center for Defense Management Reform in Monterrey, California, recently completed an assessment of the recent history of defense management reform.  He attempts to predict the reform agenda for the next administration based on past trends and recent GAO and academic reports.  He also offers advice to both the outgoing and incoming administrations.  His report also has a more general section on presidential transitions that provides some useful insights.


Defense Reforms 2001 – 2008


“The DOD’s initial call for management reform came in the 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) Report.”  The report outlined an agenda that ultimately led to the creation of the Business Transformation Agency which is leading a set of cross-Defense reform initiatives.  The thrust of many of these efforts is to integrate over 5,000 different business systems to reduce redundancy and costs, but more importantly so they can communicate with each other and allow leaders to make better decisions, real-time.


Another structure reform was the designation of the Deputy Secretary of the department as the Department’s Chief Management Officer, and legislation is pending to designate the undersecretaries of each of the military services as their service’s respective chief management officer.  The Business Transformation Agency reports to the Deputy Secretary; each military service has their own sets of transformation initiatives.  Many are centered around the use of Lean Six Sigma.


Phil’s Predictions


“The functional area we expect will continue to receive the greatest attention is contracting and acquisition . . .from the reform perspectives of program effectiveness, transparency and accountability, and business process improvement.”


Other areas will include the effectiveness of the new National Security Personnel System as well as other human capital issues such as the existing and pending competency gaps.  Another dimension will be maintaining current readiness of the military force.


The Transition


Deputy Secretary Gordon England began to embed transformation initiatives in the department beginning in August 2007 with his memo listing 25 goals he wanted institutionalized by December 2008.

Candreva outlines in his paper the framework for a transition briefing book as well as potential transition actions from the perspective of career executives, the outgoing administration, and the incoming administration.  He also includes a graphic of the the Clinton transition team’s structure.


His advice follows the advice of others, such as for outgoing appointees, “codify your reform initiatives and governance structures;” for incoming appointees, “listen to your predecessors. . . take time to learn the bureaucracy. . .; “ and for career executives, “Remain neutrally competent. . . Fill any leadership vacuum.”



Inventory of Blog Entries

October 22, 2008

This is my 100th blog entry!  Thanks to our many readers and contributors.  While few people post comments on our entries, we get lots of emails and phone calls.  Also, thanks to the Library of Congress for asking to preserve the site as part of its 2008 election coverage.  It’s been fun.


I looked back to see if there were any themes to all the stuff I’ve been writing and thought this would be a good point to come up with a rough index, which I’ll periodically update:


 (Last Updated: December 23, 2008)


Blogs on “The Big Picture” — Where Is Government Reform Going?

Blogs on What the Campaigns Have Been Saying About Government Reform


Blogs on the History of Transitions


Blogs on the 2008 Transition Process

 Blogs on The Bush Administration’s Transition-Out Activities

 Blogs on Management Ideas for the Next Administration

 Blogs on Advice for the New Team

Blogs on What Other Groups Are Doing


I’ll expand this list over time, so you might want to bookmark this page and return to it when you might be looking for something particular.


Also, I’m getting so much stuff, I’ll start blogging more frequently, with shorter blogs.  Would like to see how that works for you. Let me know. 

Filling Empty Boxes

December 18, 2007

John Kamensky, Senior Fellow, IBM Center for The Business of GovernmentWhen an Administration leaves the White House complex, it can be a bit eerie.  The Eisenhower Building, which houses most of the political appointees staffing the President, is empty.  All the files are removed.  Pictures are taken down from the walls.  It’s quiet.  It can feel like a ghost town.  This scene is repeated in agency after agency.

But the new Administration quickly fills the void shortly after the President is sworn into office on January 20th.  by putting a whole new team in place.

However, because the offices – and the jobs — are empty, a new President can easily change the roles of what the new appointees do.  In fact, there is a window for change that opens briefly once every four to eight years.  After that, the offices and jobs are filled and it becomes much harder to change roles and direction.

Given this scenario, the ground work for a new Administration starts months in advance, even before a candidate is elected.  Clay Johnson, who was the director of presidential personnel for President Bush, offers some advice:  decide what you want the top 350 positions to do to deliver on the new president’s agenda and only then select people to fill those roles. 

The Comptroller General, David Walker, also has some advice:  as a new President fills roles, select some with management experience to help manage major departments and agencies.  He has advocated the creation of a new job:  Chief Management Officer.  Recently, he went beyond just advocacy of the concept to offer a “how to” guide.  This should be a “must read” for any presidential transition effort as it plans how their president would govern.  The guide offers criteria for how such a position might be structured, depending on the specific needs of individual agencies. Walker goes beyond promoting the concept to actually offering insights into how the positions might be structured.

That guide was a subject of a congressional hearing last week, where Senators Daniel Akaka (D-HI) and George Voinovich (R-OH) both supported the notion of creating positions that would ensure management issues receive top priority attention in departments and agencies.  Action may require some legislative action, for example, Walker recommends that any Chief Management Officer should be a term appointment for a fixed period of time – such as 5 or 7 years – to institutionalize continuity across presidential administrations.  While statutory fixed terms exist for selected government officials, such as the head of the FBI and the head of the Social Security Administration, typically presidents are reluctant to designate such positions because it tends to limit their discretion.  However, this can be an issue the next president can decide. . . . After all, the boxes (on the organization chart) will be empty!