Posts Tagged ‘human capital’

Human Capital is Out, People Are In

June 2, 2009

PeopleJohn Berry, the new director of the Office of Personnel Management, seems to want to change the conversation!  He doesn’t like the term “human capital,” but does like the term “people.”  Maybe the General Services Agency’s the new star agency, since they already have a Chief People Officer!

But more substantively, he’s beginning to outline the Obama Administration’s people policies, according to Government Executive’s Alyssa Rosenberg.  He has defined three near-term priorities and three longer-term priorities:

Near Term priorities, which he has assigned to action teams within the Office of Personnel Management, to:

  • simplify the hiring process
  • design more ambitious work-life balance programs, and
  • improve veterans’ preference programs.

Long Term priorities, which will likely require large scale study and stakeholder involvement:

  • Pay reform, which will focus on the need to:
    • create a fair and credible performance appraisal and accountability system
    • develop training that would prepare employees for promotion and support them throughout their careers; and
    • establish genuine parity between federal and private-sector salaries for employees in comparable occupations.
  • increasing the diversity of the federal workforce, and
  • controlling costs in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program.

According to Federal Times’ Stephen Losey, Berry says he met with President Obama to outline his agenda and the President told him he could pursue pay parity only if he can put in place a credible employee performance management system.

In tandem to Berry’s agenda, Congress is also taking some action on personnel issues.  A Senate committee has voted out legislation on expanding telework and allowing temporary hires of retired federal employees in critical jobs, without having their pensions reduced.  The Washington Post’s Ed O’Keefe notes, in “Congress to Consider a Flurry of Bills Aimed at Federal Workers,” that this may be the result of a friendlier climate on the Hill toward federal workers, but “Some senior Republican staffers say the flurry of legislative activity is more a signal of growing discontent on Capitol Hill with a government hiring-and-pay system that lags far behind the private sector than the manifestation of a friendlier political climate for federal employees.”

In either case, the actions of both the Administration and the Hill will likely contribute to Obama’s goal of “making government cool again.”


Where Are the Keys?

January 16, 2009

Earlier today, outgoing deputy director for management Clay Johnson sent me (and others) a note that was equivalent to leaving behind the keys to the office.


In his note, Johnson said every agency has performance goals, plans for accomplishing those goals by a specific date, senior managers designated who are responsible for implementing the plans to get these goals done, and a system of transparency behind all of this so outside groups can hold them accountable.


So here’s the list of web links to all of this.  The new team will inherit the keys.  Do they  fit the new door, or did someone penny lock it?  (we’ll find out on Tuesday when we’ll see which of these sites remain up and which are taken down by the National Archives as Bush Administration officials records).

Performance, government-wide


Performance, by Program


Management Reform Areas

  • Human Capital
  • Commercial Services Management
  • Financial Management
  • Electronic Government
  • Performance Improvement

Improper Payments


Real Property Management


Expanding Electronic Government


Improving Financial Performance


Security and Suitability Clearance Reform


Human Capital Survey


Government Financial Report


GAO High Risk areas

Federal Workforce Recommendations

December 8, 2008
Partnership for Public Service

Partnership for Public Service

Last week the Partnership for Public Service released a survey of federal agency chief human capital officers on their assessment of the condition of the public service and their advice to President-Elect Obama.
Based on the survey results, the report cites four key recommendations for President-elect Obama as he gets ready to take charge of the 1.9 million federal workforce:

Make people issues a presidential priority. Federal managers will not see human capital reform as a priority unless it is a priority for the president. President-elect Obama should specifically assume the role of recruiter in chief and issue a call to government service.

Create 21st century systems to support a 21st century workforce. This will require updating the way our government hires, classifies and compensates its workers, among other reforms. President-elect Obama will also need to update the Office of Personnel Management, and focus its efforts on workforce improvement and agency assistance.

Improve our federal workforce by investing in the human resources workforce. Less than a third of HR leaders think their staffs clearly have the skills needed to do their jobs effectively. An investment in HR staff is an investment in attracting and retaining high quality people to carry out the administration’s agenda.

Don’t automatically hit the reset button on previous workforce reform efforts. Progress has been made in areas such as improving performance management systems and metrics to hold agencies and managers accountable for effective workforce management. President-elect Obama should build on this progress and send a powerful message to career employees that he values their work.

A full copy of the report can be obtained here.

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. 

Transition Ideas: Human Capital

October 1, 2008
Partnership for Public Service

Partnership for Public Service

Today’s the beginning of the new fiscal year!  While there may not be a budget and the economy seems to be crashing down, there are only four weeks left in the presidential campaign.  It is time for the various think tanks to begin releasing their ideas for the next president to act upon!  Today, the Partnership for Public Service releases the centerpiece of its Presidential Transition Initiative – “Roadmap to Reform:  A Management Framework for the Next Administration.”

Befitting its name “partnership,” seven other good government groups joined the Partnership in endorsing its roadmap to “improve government operations. . . . by focusing on its greatest asset – its people.”  Its report starts by highlighting the projected loss of 530,000 employees over the next five years as they retire, and the importance of recruiting, training, and motivating the next generation of public servants.

The Roadmap organizes its recommendations around four components:

The Right Talent.  The Partnership says “Just filling vacancies is inadequate.”  Agencies have to identify future needs and recruit talent for those needs, not today’s vacancies.  This involves creating a planning, recruiting, and hiring process that reflect practices young potential employees expect: user-friendly and transparent.  No essays, more resumes.  No General Schedule, but agency-specific tailored systems.  Patent examiners, bank examiners, disability examiners, border guards, doctors, and air traffic controllers should not be all shoe-horned into the same pay system.

An Engaged Workforce.  “Managers should be held accountable . . . for high levels of employee engagement,” says the Partnership.  To do this, “Managers should build a clear line of sight from an employee’s work to accomplishments of broader objectives and the agency’s mission.”  In addition, agencies should invest in training and Congress should “statutorily allocate money for training that can’t be eliminated or re-budgeted,” and agencies should be allowed to roll over unspent funds from one year to the next to finance training opportunities.

Strong Leadership.  The Partnership says “The federal government has an inconsistent track record selecting, developing, and retaining top political and career leaders with strong management skills.”  For political appointees, it recommends that during Senate confirmation hearings, senators assess whether appointees are qualified to run large and complex organizations, and once appointed, they receive an orientation on how the government works. For longer-term leadership, the Partnership recommends the designation of chief management officers in agencies and the use of “joint duty” talent exchanges within and between agencies and other organizations.

Public Support.  Public support can focus lawmaker support for a vital civil service.  Attitudes toward federal employment is part of promoting a constructive solution.  To date, both presidential candidates have extolled the importance of public service.  This in turn can begin to affect both attitudes and public support.

The Partnership also promotes other actions in its Roadmap:

** Making metrics more useful by focusing on outcomes, for example by promoting the use of “PerformanceStat” models to create a culture of performance.

** Publishing program performance results to clearly account for resources used, such as by building on pre-existing initiatives such as balanced scorecards or the Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART).

** Requiring essential data be uniformly collected, analyzed and made available to agencies and stakeholders.

** Dramatically reducing the number of Senate-confirmed positions (1,137) to ensure essential leadership positions are filled in a more timely fashion.

Shortly, other groups will be releasing their reports.  I’ll try to provide summaries of them as they become available.  If I miss anything, let me know!  In the meanwhile, congrats to Max Stier and team at the Partnership.

A Human Capital Agenda

June 24, 2008


The next president will face a range of policy and management issues, but central to getting them done will be the capabilities of the roughly 3,000 staff he hires and the efforts of the cPartnership for Public Serviceareer civil servants that work in government.


One non-profit hopes to help.  The Partnership for Public Service is dedicated to inspiring a new generation to serve and to transform the way government works.  It recently launched a Presidential Management Initiative in an effort to help shape the next president’s management plan. 


It plans to offer recommendations for the presidential transition and establish a framework for effective federal workforce management in the next administration by:


·      Contributing reliable information to the general election campaign dialogue, positions, and rhetoric;

·      Publishing a viable reform agenda, with transition recommendations for the next administration;

·      Directly assisting the new administration through its transition; and

·      Providing useful counsel and perspectives to the next generation of political appointees.


The lead for this initiative is Katie Malague.


To date, they’ve launched a series of roundtables around the country to engage federal workers in a discussion around three “burning questions” the next president will need to address:


·      Federal pay, job classification, and performance management.

·      Managing a multi-sector workforce of career civil servants and contractors

·      Building collaboration within the government


So far, they’ve held roundtables in Washington, DC and Los Angeles, with more planned in coming months.


The Partnership is also reaching out to leaders of past government reform efforts and presidential transitions and sponsored a conference to identify actions needed to make government more effective, especially during a transition.  They hope to build a coalition of support and provide insights to the incoming Administration.  I’ll provide more Partnership resources as they come available, such as their white paper, “Fixing the Engine:  Investing in People to Enhance Government Performance.”


Do you think they are focusing on the right issues?  Are there others you would add?


By the way, the Partnership is also a member of the Government Performance Coalition, a group of organizations who are collectively sponsoring “Transitions in Governance” as one way to provide support during the upcoming presidential transition.

Cementing the Bush Management Legacy

May 20, 2008


Note:  There are a lot of new items cropping up lately.  So we can share them in a more timely manner, I’ll try to start posting things twice a week (Tuesday and Friday) for a while.

 Outgoing Administrations want to preserve their initiatives so they continue after they leave.  President George Bush is doing just that with a series of worthwhile management improvements put in place over the past few years.


 Performance Improvement.  As noted in an earlier blog entry, he signed an executive order requiring agencies to appoint performance improvement officers as a way to preserve advances made on his performance-related initiatives.


 Human Capital.  Recently, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) adopted regulations to embed a series of personnel-related management initiatives into the ongoing operation of the government.  These initiatives are the basis for a set of standards that OPM has used to assess the quality of each agency’s human capital efforts, such as effective strategic workforce planning, hiring, and succession planning.


 Technology.  Most recently, the Office of Management and Budget has taken a wise step to preserve the momentum behind its efforts to lead technology reforms.  Recognizing that political appointments will take months in the new Administration, it has announced that it is converting a key position – deputy administrator for e-government and information technology – from a political position to a career post.  That means that whoever is competitively selected for that job will bridge the leadership gap between the Bush Administration and the next Administration.  If you’re qualified and interested, you can apply here!


 Management Agenda.  The word on the street is that OMB plans to extend the President’s Management Agenda at least into the middle of 2009, as well.  Over the past few years, OMB and each agency have negotiated a tailored agreement as to what progress they would make against each element of the Agenda. This is used to make its quarterly scorecard assessments. This agreement, called the “Proud to Be Memo,” is generally from June of one year to July of the next, so the intent seems to be to bridge the transition gap in leadership between the two Administrations so momentum on these management improvement initiatives is not lost. 


 * * *

 Are there other management improvement initiatives from this Administration that you see being cemented into the baseline for how the government does its business that could be added to this “Legacy List?”


Next President’s Human Capital Agenda

October 25, 2007

PeopleI attended a Performance Coalition forum yesterday that was a dialogue on human capital issues facing the next President.  Panelists extolled the importance of attracting and retaining talent needed to deliver on government’s promises to citizens.  But it served as an opportunity to reflect on what seems to be going on.

The most visible human capital issue in the current presidential campaign is the debate over the appropriate mix of public sector vs. private sector employees in delivering public services.  For example, Senator Hillary Clinton says she would reduce the number of private sector contractors; Rudy Giuliani says he would reduce the number of federal employees by not replacing all those that retire.

However, there is another layer of human capital issues that may not be front-burner for the campaigns but will likely be items that a new president – whoever wins – will have to address when he or she takes office because Congress is beginning to take the initiative in defining that agenda.  In addition, the Bush Administration has ongoing initiatives that will likely continue in any future administration.

Congress is currently actively considering about a half dozen issues that, if enacted in the coming year, would largely be left to the new president to implement.  These include:

 In addition, the Bush Administration has put in place several initiatives that are likely to continue, largely around creating a results-oriented performance culture in the government.  In some cases they started under his predecessor and in other cases are statutory requirements enacted in recent years: 

So when the next president takes office, there will be an on-going agenda of issues.  The challenge will be setting priorities among them, and adding his or her own issues to the mix.