Posts Tagged ‘IBM Center’

Transition: IBM Center Special Magazine Issue

December 22, 2008

bog_fall08pubs1Last week I visited with a friend at lunch and had a strange experience!  I’d brought a copy of the IBM Center’s latest magazine to share and left on the table during lunch.  A complete stranger came up and said “Oh, can I get a copy of that magazine?  I really need it!” Then someone a table over said, “Can I get a copy too!?”  This issue has a special section on the transition, which was what was attracting interest.

Well, in case you too are interested, here are the hotlinks to those articles:

Helping the Next Administration Succeed in Washington, by Jonathan Breul.  Management matters, says Breul:  “The transition from campaign to governing requires that presidential policies be transformed from rhetoric into an actionable agenda and then into concrete results. Neither good policies nor sound investments are likely to work, let along succeed, if undermined by poor implementation.”  He goes on to observe that this is difficult both because of the size of the federal government as well as the fact that so much of what goes on must be delegated to others.  He says that having good oversight and controls in place is important, but that a leadership interest in management, and not just policy, is important.

Eight Essential Tools for Achieving Your Goals:  Insights for the New Administration, by Mark Abramson, Breul, John Kamensky, and Martin Wagner.  This essay summarizes the book they co-authored, “The Operator’s Manual for the New Administration.”  They outline the eight tools leaders have at their disposal in every government agency to use to achieve their goals:  leadership, performance, people, money, contracting, technology, innovation, and collaboration.  The book has chapters on each. 

Hubris or Wise Policy?  Early Planning for a Presidential Transition, by Martha Joynt Kumar.  Based on years of study, professor Kumar says presidential candidates need to be prepared to select and vet some 100 top administration officials, staff up their White House, be ready in the first week to issue a dozen executive orders reflecting their social priorities and withdraw ones issued by their predecessors, have ready a speech to Congress on a major policy issue, and decide their budget priorities. Early planning makes all of the difference to the quality of the start a president has once he takes office.  Based on the progress of the Obama transition, it looks like they’ve taken her advice!

What Do (and What Should) Federal Officials Do During a Presidential Transition?, by Bruce McConnell.  This article focuses on the actions of federal officials in four separate phases of the transition: pre-election, post-election, post-inauguration, and post-arrival (of incoming political officials). It differentiates between three types of officials: political officials connected with the outgoing administration, incoming political officials, and senior career civil servants. Finally, it provides some tips for making the transition a success for all concerned.

An Apollo Project for Climate Change/Energy?  History’s Lessons for Future Success, by Henry Lambright. If President Obama wants to launch a massive effort to respond to the nation’s climate change/energy challenges, he can hearken back to large-scale government efforts in the past such as the Manhattan Project or the Apollo Project.  Dr. Lambright’s study of these past efforts offers five success factors for such large-scale efforts:  (1) a consensus-building catalyst for action, (2) a clear and urgent goal, (3) a powerful implementing agency, (4) sustained political will, and (5) exceptional administrative leadership. 

Hope you enjoy your holiday reading!


Transition Team Resource Guide

November 4, 2008

white-house-south-lawn By the end of the day, we’ll know whose transition team picks up the keys to the transition office in downtown Washington DC tomorrow.

(UPDATED: November 15, 2008).

The transition team itself will start to grow quickly.  Based on past history, it could range in size from 300 to over 1,000 members.  Most will be volunteers, some will be paid, few (if any) will be federal employees.  So, most won’t know their way around the federal government.  Here’s a quick resource guide:

The GSA Presidential Transition Website.  The General Services Administration is the designated administrative resource for the transition team.  This site provides basic background information on the transition and GSA’s role. 

The Presidential Transition Resources Directory.  This site is a joint effort between GSA and the National Archives to provide the transition team with baseline information about how the government works.  This will be the “go to” place for government information.

The Obama Transition Website.  Here is the Transition Team’s official website. —  It encourages visitors to contribute their impressions, a blog, information on the progress of the transition, and a place to submit interest in working in the Obama Administration.

The Plum Book.  The Senate worked with the Office of Personnel Management to develop this inventory of all policy-making and political appointments.  It will be the baseline for identifying where positions will be available, by agency.  It will become a hot item for all transition team staffers.

The Prune Book On-Line.  The non-partisan, non-profit Council for Excellence in Government has created a guide to a subset of 114 key jobs listed in the Plum Book.  It describes the challenges of what previous office-holders have faced in those positions (such as the head of the IRS) and what skills would be most useful to be successful in those jobs. 

Agency Performance Links.  The Office of Management and Budget created a useful “go to” webpage with every agency’s strategic plans, performance plans, performance reports, and program-level assessments.  A useful baseline of what’s going on!

Wiki Inventory of Think Tank Transition Efforts.  The 1105 Government Information Group has created a wiki inventory of what different think tanks and other groups are doing to provide insights and recommendations related to management improvements in government.

Political Appointee Roadmap.  The Council for Excellence in Government has created an interactive roadmap for potential political appointees.  It tailors a checklist of action steps to be taken, depending on whether you’re looking for an appointment for a Presidential Appointment with Senate Confirmation, or a lower-level Schedule C position. 

The Operator’s Manual for the New Administration. The IBM Center put together this manual to help incoming agency leaders navigate their way around their agency’s main management systems.  It can be helpful to transition team members, especially those in “parachute teams” visiting agencies, to frame a quick understanding of what’s going on.

Getting It Done:  A Guide for Government Executives.  Another IBM Center resource, this guide helps incoming agency leaders gain a quick understanding of how to get things done.  It can be a useful resource for prospective appointees so they can understand who the key stakeholders are that they’ll need to be dealing with, and initial steps they can take to be successful in their jobs.

White House Staff Guide.  Brad Patterson has updated his 2000 book that inventories office-by-office what goes on in the White House complex.  For anyone working in a White House, this is a detailed “how to” manual that provides a baseline for how it works today.  This 475-page book can be order from the Brookings Institution.

If there are other great links you think would be helpful to the transition team, let me know and I’ll add them here or in the wiki!

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. 

Think Tanks and Transition 2008: Update

July 9, 2008


The Thinker

The Thinker

I started an inventory back in April (Part I and Part II) of what different think tanks are doing related to the transition.  There was a good story in Federal Times this past week on some of the groups (including the IBM Center), but there are a few more developments over the past few months worth highlighting.


Updates on Think Tank Players


Government Performance Coalition.  The Coalition’s a website on transition issues is being updated more frequently.  The Coalition and its nearly two dozen members (some of whose efforts are described in more detail below) anticipate pulling together a set of insights for the next Administration this Fall.


IBM Center for The Business of Government.  In addition to sponsoring this blog, a series of issue briefs and forums on acquisition reform, the IBM Center will be publishing two books this Fall.  One, “The Operator’s Manual for the New Administration,” will highlight the key features of running an agency, such as what you need to know about government systems dealing with people, money, and technology.  The second book, “Getting It Done,” provides insights for new government leaders on working across different stakeholder groups – Congress, OMB, the media, unions – to get things done.  Its transition website will be regularly updated to reflect these items, as well.


Council for Excellence in Government.  CEG plans to continue its famous “Prune Book” but make it an on-line version this time, highlighting about 25 key jobs. It is also providing pre-transition assistance to the Department of Homeland Security by helping organize emergency and planning exercises under the National Response Framework.


National Academy for Public Administration.  NAPA also assisted Homeland Security by inventorying gaps in the Department’s executive staff rank in a recent report.  A group of Academy Fellows is drafting a series of papers on key management capacity challenges facing the next Administration as well, which will be available on the web later this summer.  NAPA is also collaborating with other groups, as described below.


Partnership for Public Service.  The Partnership has sponsored a series of forums on the human capital agenda for the next Administration.  It is developing a white paper based on its forums and plans to contribute data and information during the general election campaign to further dialog on these issues.  It also plans to provide insights and advice to the next generation of political appointees.


American Society for Public Administration.  The Society’s professional journal, Public Administration Review, published a series of articles related to presidential transition in its July/August issue.   


Association of Government Accountants.  AGA has launched a blog on financial management issues, some of which may be relevant during the upcoming transition.  It is also developing a white paper on financial management challenges, jointly with NAPA.


Center for the Study of the Presidency.   The Center is sponsoring several efforts related to the transition.  One, which is more strategy-oriented, is “Agenda 2008:  A Nation at Risk,” which defines organizational challenges facing the next President.  The more specific effort is its sponsorship of the Project on National Security Reform, which is devoted to rethinking the National Security Act of 1947 which created the Defense Department.



“The President’s Executive Academy.” This new initiative is being developed by a consortium of groups:  the University of Maryland, the Council for Excellence in Government, the University of Pennsylvania, and NAPA.  Under the guidance of Ed DeSeve, a former OMB official, the consortium is developing a curriculum for new presidential appointees, with plans to help support the orientation of new appointees.  It is also planning the development of a web-based orientation and network.


Updates on Government Players


Office of Personnel Management.  OPM has published an updated transition guide for political appointees.    


Office of Government Ethics.  OGE will have an important role in the transition.  It is responsible for reviewing and certifying financial disclosure reports of presidential nominees.  It reviews each nominee’s written ethics agreements and transmits opinion/clearance letters to the appropriate Senate committees responsible for confirming appointees.  It also provides ethics briefings to senior White House officials. 


Congressional Research Service.  CRS produces reports on various topics for members of Congress.  It has produced an updated report on Presidential Transitions.  It will also likely produce a series of other reports on transition-related issues, such as national and homeland security.  


Updates on Academic Players


The White House Transition Project  is conducting a series of interviews of 11 key White House officials about the lessons they learned in their roles and advice they have for their successors.  They are planning on a book later this year with essays on selected transition topics such as:  the first 100 days in the White House (which should be useful to CNN, which has announced a series it plans on the first 100 days); the presidential decision-making system, and the president’s military and foreign policy roles. 


Midge Smith Center for Evaluation Effectiveness (a part of the Trachtenberg School for Public Policy and Public Administration at George Washington University).  The Center is collaborating with a NAPA advisory group to develop a white paper identifying options for strengthening performance management initiatives in the next Administration.  The effort is based on a series of focus groups with OMB and agency officials and will be ready in the Fall.


Updates on Other Players


Deloitte Public Sector Research.  Deloitte Research sponsored a conference in June on the potential role of Web 2.0 in the next Administration.  It also plans a forum in September to develop a “redesign framework” to facilitate the review of the roles and functions of government.   


Cisco.  Cisco has undertaken several transition initiatives to help the next Administration develop a management agenda. Most recently, it launched a website to engage visitors in identifying new ideas for government that could be offered to the new Administration.  In addition, Cisco’s Alan Balutis supported a special forum on management issues in the Spring 2008 issue of The Public Manager. 


Management Concepts, Inc.  Management Concepts is publishing a series entitled In the Public Interest.  The first book was out in May 2008:  Transforming Public and Nonprofit Organizations: Stewardship for Leading Change by James Edwin Kee and Kathryn E. Newcomer, both with George Washington University.  In addition, Management Concepts is sponsoring (and working on) improvements to program management with CEG, based on a survey of program managers.


OMB Watch. OMB Watch plans to prepare a briefing paper on the regulatory process and options for improving it to be more transparent.


MITRE Corporation.  MITRE is developing a set of white papers on 5-8 topics, based in part on a series of roundtables held in conjunction with CEG in late 2007.


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Again, if you’ve got additions or revisions, the blog lines are open!