Posts Tagged ‘National Archives’

Where Is Waldo?

August 28, 2009

Everyone is familiar with the anonymous military aide who follows the President everywhere carrying the codes to launch nuclear missile attacks. Less known is the anonymous archivist from the National Archives who tracks the President’s minute-by-minute meetings and phone calls.

These records are typically available to historians years later.  Well, President Obama’s “greater transparency” initiative has resulting in some of this information being available on an almost real-time basis.  With this information, the Washington Post has launched “POTUS Tracker” (POTUS is the insider acronym for “President of the United States”).

The most valuable commodity of any President is how he uses his time.  This new website gives insight into how President Obama is spending his. It is a veritable “where is Waldo!”  It graphically depicts what kinds of issues he’s addressing, who he is meeting with, where he is having events around the country, and the kinds of meetings (press conference, rally, etc.).

For those who like to track statistics and are despairing of those of their favorite baseball team, this might be the antidote!


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

GSA Role in Transition

April 22, 2008

“Who’s in charge of a transition?  Nobody.  There’s no government-wide standard on how to do it,” says David Bibb, deputy administrator of the General Services Administration (GSA), and the career senior executive designated to help organize the administrative support for the upcoming presidential transition effort.


Bibb, who spoke at a forum held at the National Academy for Public Administration last week, said GSA already has a transition support team identified and it has been meeting quarterly since mid-2004.  They’ve developed a detailed timeline and have identified temporary office space for a transition team of up to 600 people – along with parking, furniture, and support services.  He says their goal is to focus on logistics of the transition and the inauguration so the president-elect’s team can focus on the substance of the transition itself.  He says that up to 40 GSA staff will likely be involved.


In addition to supporting the incoming team, GSA will also help support the outgoing team of President George Bush.  In fact, agencies are already designating officials who will be the point persons during the transition for their agencies.  Bibb says GSA has not yet reached out to the presidential candidates to let them know what GSA can and will be able to provide in terms of support.  He thinks that will likely occur after the political conventions are held later this summer.


He outlined two items that GSA will be responsible for — in addition to the logistics –that were added by law in 2000:


Appointee Directory.  GSA will work with the National Archives, the Office of Personnel Management, and the White House office of presidential personnel to develop a high-level overview of federal departments and agencies for incoming political appointees.  In 2000, that document was both a 50-page guide as well as a website.  GSA is exploring different options for 2008.


Orientation of incoming political appointees.  GSA is developing a document that would be shared with the pre-election transition teams presidential candidates will form after the conventions.  This document will outline the requirements of the statutory provision on orientation of incoming political appointees, along with organizations that may have the potential capacity to support the orientations.  GSA will not define the content of the orientation or the approach to the orientation – whether it is training-style or discussion group-style.  That will be up to the president-elect’s transition team.


In addition, GSA will consult with both candidates’ teams in advance of the election to coordinate things such as software for the collection of resumes.


Why is the GSA role so important to get right?  Political scientists have said that a smooth transition is important to getting the new president’s agenda off on the right foot.  But Bibb says it is now more urgent than that:   after 9/11, “we’ve absolutely got to have the ability to back up” the security-related agencies.  He noted that terrorists attacked at the time of leadership transition ins Spain and the United Kingdom in recent years and we need to be able to respond on Day One.

Think Tanks and Other Players: 2008 (Part I)

April 1, 2008

The ThinkerThis is a start of an inventory of who is doing what in terms of developing management advice and support to the incoming President. Since a mix of efforts undertaken by various think tanks and other groups in 2000 helped create a useful bridge in that transition, hopefully similar efforts are underway in 2008. This initial inventory should give you some sense of who is doing what, where the holes are, and where there are opportunities for collaboration.

We’ve divided the various players into four groups: think tanks, government, academics, and other groups. We’re open to other ways of organizing this and, of course, any updates, corrections, or additions. The intended focus of this inventory is on groups supporting government management and the transition – not those groups focusing exclusively on policy issues (that list would be far too long!). There’s at some point a gray area, but this is the general rule of thumb imposed went creating this list. Also, there are oftentimes ongoing collaborative efforts among these different groups and we may not have gotten all these efforts properly described.

October 20, 2008 Update:  NOTE:  This blog entry has been the most popular of all the entries in 2008.  As a result, in conjunctions with Federal Computer Week, these entries are now posted on a wiki site and are regularly updated.  Visit that site and bookmark it!

Think Tank Players

Government Performance Coalition. The Coalition is comprised of a range of good government groups. It has been sponsoring a website on transition issues since March 2007. It is also coordinating a series of seminars on key management issues, such as the February 2008 Government Performance Summit, sponsored by the Performance Institute, and the March 2008 Human Capital Forum, hosted by the Partnership for Public Service. It aspires to develop a set of recommended actions for the next Administration based on these efforts.

IBM Center for The Business of Government. The Center sponsors this blog and recently posted a set of issue briefs on selected issues. It plans to develop a set of management resources and a guide for new appointees. It is also sponsoring a series of collaborative seminars that could result in recommendations to the next Administration on selected topics, such as improving contracting.

Council for Excellence in Government. CEG plans to continue its famous “Prune Book” but make it an on-line version this time. It is also providing pre-transition assistance to the Department of Homeland Security since, as a new department, it has never experienced a presidential transition before. It is also partnering with other groups on related projects.

National Academy for Public Administration. NAPA is also assisting Homeland Security by inventorying the Department’s executive staff positions. A group of Academy Fellows is drafting a series of papers on key management capacity challenges facing the next Administration as well. The Academy is also collaborating with other groups on related projects.

Partnership for Public Service. The Partnership has already co-sponsored a forum on human capital issues facing the next Administration, with CNA Corporation, the Coalition for Effective Change, and others, and plans to summarize insights that came out of that forum. It also plans to gather lessons learned from previous government reform efforts and offer recommendations to the new Administration.

American Society for Public Administration. The Society does not have a specific project but its professional journal, Public Administration Review, plans to publish a series of articles related to presidential transition over the coming year. It is also running a column with questions and answers on government reform with the presidential candidates. It is also coordinating a coalition of good government groups to develop a letter to candidates to encourage access to government by young people interested in public service.

Association of Government Accountants. AGA plans to co-sponsor a forum with NAPA on the role of chief financial officers in the next Administration and the human capital challenges in the federal financial community. Together they may offer recommendations or insights to the incoming Administration.

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.

Heritage Foundation. Heritage has just published a new book, “Keys to a Successful Presidency,” which offers insights to a new President.

Brookings Institution. Brookings is sponsoring an update to Brad Patterson’s book, “The White House Staff.” It may also sponsor and work collaboratively with others on related transition issues. It’s emphasis at this point is more policy-oriented via its Opportunity ’08 initiative.

American Enterprise Institute. AEI plans to gather lessons learned from past government reform efforts and reenergize its effort to streamline the presidential nomination and Senate confirmation process, in conjunction with the Brookings Institution.

Reason Public Policy Institute. Reason plans to host a forum this summer of top experts to craft a set of recommendations on how the next President can use competitive sourcing approaches. It also plans to focus research on transportation funding issues the next Administration will be facing when the transportation bill comes up for reauthorization.

Government Players

General Services Administration. GSA serves as the administrative arm for the President-Elect’s Transition Team by providing office space and equipment. It also is required by a 2000 law to develop a transition directory, which was a website in 2000. The same law makes GSA responsible for delivering orientation training for new political appointees.

National Archives and Records Administration. NARA is responsible for the out-going President’s records and it is responsible, by law, for assisting GSA in developing a transition directory.

Office of Personnel Management. OPM is responsible for cataloging all the political appointee positions, which are published as the “Plum Book” by congressional committees. In 2000, it also published a guide for executives on personnel rules associated with the transition.

Government Accountability Office. Since 1988, GAO has developed both a list of High Risk Areas and transition reports that assess key cross-cutting management issues and agency-specific issues. For 2008, GAO will likely continue its High Risk list and reprise its “21st Century Challenges” report, but may not publish a separate series of transition reports. It will likely provide a series of short issue briefs to the incoming transition team, Congress, and appointees based on what it has found in its reviews over the years and its advice on improvements the new Administration may want to undertaken.

House and Senate government oversight committees. These committees publish the Plum Book and historically the House committee develops a report on the state of management in the federal government based on reviews of GAO and inspector general reports.

* * * *

Since this is getting to be a bit long, I’ll continue the inventory in my next blog entry with the academic and other groups. Meanwhile, your additions and revisions are welcome!