Posts Tagged ‘OPM’

Performance Pay: Here to Stay?

August 27, 2009

Not unlike the recent public healthcare debates, the mention of performance-based pay generates much passion.  The continued rollout of the Defense Department’s version of performance pay was put on hold at the beginning of the Obama Administration, pending a study.  That study is now out.  It is short and clear:  continue the pause, rethink some of the initial premises put in place in 2004, engage employees in re-designing the system, and be sure to invest in training managers. While the report concludes” “Successful performance management systems have the potential to enhance organizations performance and drive effective results,” it pointed to several implementation actions taken in recent years that led to frustration by both managers and employees.

Media played up the unions’ disappointment that the system was not rejected outright.   But separately there were strong signals from John Berry, director of the Office of Personnel Management, that President Obama is committed to linking pay to performance as a condition of any broader governmentwide pay reform efforts.

What should be the focus of the “rethink?”  A coalition of good government groups, the Government Performance Coalition, outlined several “key drivers for enhancing the prospects of success:”

Focus first on instituting a proven performance management system.  Performance management must initially be separated from pay.  The system has to be tied to proven improvements in performance, and “an effective performance system must be recognized as benefiting employee motivation and engagement, as well as recruitment and retention, regardless of pay.”

Second, provide for the proper level of transparency.  Without the ability to understand one’s rating or the way in which the process functions, a major reason for the enhanced system is lost.”

And third, reinforce the value of constructive ongoing communications.  Employee-manager feedback and dialogue are important, but oftentimes difficult to achieve.  Training helps, but it is important for leaders to “sustain a workplace culture that values constructive communication.”

Interestingly, these elements were reflected several years ago in an assessment of the performance pay system implemented at the Government Accountability Office.   This isn’t a new topic.  This blog has highlighted several other related IBM Center reports on this topic, if you want to dig into some of the background.


Efforts to Engage the Public

August 12, 2009

The healthcare reform debates raging across the country in townhalls and on-line, all show that Americans do want to actively engage in their government.  Obama’s Open Government Directive, which is still under development, intends to expand public involvement.  But various agencies are already jumping in.

The Environmental Protection Agency has long been a leader in engaging citizens.  They’ve developed extensive resources and networks that can be of help to others.  They are currently helping revamp the main website for public participation in e-rulemaking,  Here, they are encouraging citizen involvement in redesigning the website.

The Office of Personnel Management has posted a draft version of its 2010 strategic plan on line and is asking for both employee and public comment.

The Department of Homeland Security has invited the public to participate in a statutorily required Quadrennial Review of its policies and priorities. Federal Computer Week’s Ben Bain notes that the review covers six areas, such as border security and disaster response.  The first on-line dialogue sponsored by this effort ended several days ago, with 10,000 participants.  The next dialogue will launch at the end of the month, followed by a third several weeks later.

Federal agencies aren’t the only ones getting excited about increasing citizen participation.  A conference held earlier this month brought together over 90 participants committed to “strengthening our nation’s democracy” via a range of efforts, including voting reforms, institutional changes to that way government engages citizens, as well as grassroots organizing.  Participants developed a draft set of action items for Obama’s White House as well as the broader democracy movement, which participant Sandy Heierbacher summarized in her blog:

1. Draft Statement of Principles (The preamble which will likely carry the definitions, values and ethics talked about during the conference)
2. Democracy Skill-Building Agenda (How to transfer knowledge and ability to do this work)
3. Health of Democracy Report (The state of this imperfect union)
4. National Demonstration Projects (To show the real world value of what was proposed)
5. Recognize and Support Engagement by Disenfranchised Communities (To ensure full inclusion)
6. Institutionalize Participatory and Collaborative Governance (Embed it in federal, state and local institutions)
7. Ensure Adequate Resources for Public Engagement (Paying for it)
8. Adopt and Electoral Reform Agenda (Self explanatory — more later)
9. Feedback on Consultation Efforts (Evaluation)
10. Mechanism for Sustaining Leadership (Ensuring that this doesn’t disappear in four years)
11. International Exchange (Learning from our global colleagues)

Details and the final report will be posted here where available.

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.”

Obama Workforce Agenda

May 20, 2009

PeopleA lot of people have been asking me – what is Obama’s human capital agenda?  I think it’s still evolving.  But in conversations over the past few weeks with friends and colleagues who are at the Office of Personnel Management, the Office of Management and Budget, and who are agency chief human capital officers – and reading the new budget proposals – I’m beginning to see an outline. 

This notional outline, though, was reinforced this morning when the Partnership for Public Service released its biennial “Best Places to Work” survey.  It got a good nod via a front page Washington Post article, as well: “Money’s Nice, But a Good Boss is Better,” by Steve Vogel.

The Partnership’s breakfast event featured OMB director Peter Orzag, who offered some brief, but significant, remarks.  First, he said that OMB will be expecting improvement plans from agencies that ranked low on the Partnership’s survey results.  And second, he said there are four things he thought would help achieve President Obama’s goal of “making government cool again.”  Those four include efforts to: revamp the hiring process; increase training and mentoring programs; emphasize that performance matters; and promote public service.

So what am I seeing as the outline of the Obama workforce agenda?  There seem to be four areas of emphasis.  They are not quite as direct as the Bush President’s Management Agenda’s “strategic management of human capital” emphasis, but they do build on the Obama commitment to make government “cool” again:

Succession planning.  In the Bush Agenda, this was called strategic human capital planning. Being strategic is important in defining an organization’s capabilities.  But the reality is that this will occur in the context of a huge demographic shift in the workforce over the course of the next four years.  The Partnership and others estimate that one-third of the workforce – about 600,000 — will turn over before the end of the first Obama administration.  This offers a chance to change the skill mix, but it also means there has to be a hand-off of institutional knowledge on a very large scale.

Streamlined hiring.  The federal hiring system is seen as largely deficient because it almost screens out top talent by being so slow.  Efforts, such as the Partnership’s “Extreme Hiring Makeovers” haven’t changed agency behaviors on a large scale.  Congressional frustration has led to legislative proposals to dictate what should be done administratively.  President Obama’s first budget proposes reform.  The new director of the Office of Personnel Management, John Berry, promises quick action.  Given all this high level focus, maybe something positive will happen.  The hiring of 600,000 new employees should be a good “burning platform” to prod action!  Best practices in places like the Border Patrol are worth examining.

Engaged employees.  Engaged federal employees, according to the Partnership, are 20 percent more productive than the average employee.  Engaged employees derive a sense of personal accomplishment from their work, believes their talent is well used and is given a chance to develop professionally.  The source of this is good agency leadership and good line managers, so there will need to be a concerted effort to undertake a number of specific actions related to their training and mentoring to reach this goal.  The budget proposes investment in training and management rotations to better develop leaders.

Collaborative workplaces.  The Millennial Generation expects to work collaboratively, and to leverage their social networks to get work done, often via Web 2.0 technologies.  To them, work is not a place but an attitude.  The Obama Administration says it wants to be increasingly collaborative.  It’s a different way of working.  A directive for how to do this is still under development.  But there are some interesting efforts already underway to develop the foundation for this, such as the

Obviously, there is potentially any number of other issues that could be on the agenda – performance pay is being reconsidered, the human resources management line-of-business seems to be quiet, and developing greater capacity among the HR workforce itself. But if new agency leaders and the chief human capital officers across the government focus on these four areas, they’d likely be well on the way toward making government cool!

High Performance Government

May 11, 2009

People have been asking me when I was going to blog on the President’s new budget.  I wasn’t interested in jumping in on the program cuts, etc. because everyone else covered that with more depth.  But I was interested in seeing the outline for the management elements in the budget.  That was released today as a short chapter in the Analytical Perspectives segment of the budget, entitled:  “Building a High-Performance Government.” 

 The chapter is at a fairly high level, but outlines six themes:

 Putting Performance First.  The new Administration wants to replace the OMB Program Assessment Rating Tool (PART) with a new “Performance Improvement and Analysis Framework.”  The PART helped establish performance measures across federal programs, the budget notes, but “it has been less successful in encouraging the actual use of performance measurement as a performance improvement tool.”  The new approach will “switch the focus from grading programs as successful or unsuccessful to requiring agency leaders to set priority goals, demonstrate progress in achieving goals, and explain performance trends.”  Cross-program and cross-agency goals would receive as much or more focus as program-specific ones.  These themes are consistent with a recent IBM Center report by Shelley Metzenbaum!

Ensuring Responsible Spending of Recovery Act Funds.  The emphasis on transparency and accountability that has been consistently hammered on in recent weeks is repeated here.  It reinforces the management focus being placed on the Act’s implementation.

Transforming the Federal Workforce.  The budget notes that almost half the existing workforce will retire the coming decade (with almost one-third retiring in the first term of the Obama Administration).  It notes “In filling these positions, it is essential to restore the prestige of public service and reform the recruitment process. . . “  It continues: “The federal hiring process also needs to be reformed” and this will be led by the Office of Personnel Management.  The budget say greater investments need to be made in the existing workforce and agencies “should make greater use of management rotations both within and between agencies” to better develop leaders.

Managing Across Sectors.  This section is vague but promising . . . . “In the new management agenda, the focus will be on determining and then implementing government services in a manner that provides the best value for taxpayers” by “acquiring needed resources from the private and nonprofit sectors, and collaborating across levels of government.”

Reforming Federal Contracting and Acquisition.  This section reiterates President Obama’s March 4th memo on reforming government contracting, which instructs OMB issue new guidance on: (`) reviewing all existing contracts to determine if they are appropriate, (2) maximize the use of competition in the contracting process, (3) use different types of contracts appropriately, (4) improve the capacity of the acquisition workforce, and (5) clarify when outsourcing is and is not appropriate.

Transparency, Technology, and Participatory Democracy.  This section reiterates the elements of the January 21st presidential memo, committing “to innovate in providing better levels of transparency and openness, and in devising new tools to let citizens have their voices heard by those who serve them.”

As noted, most of these elements have already been described in earlier White House announcements.  However, putting these six elements in one place, together, finally give an outline of the potential priorities for the Obama Administration’s management initiatives.

Fast Action on Stimulus Implementation

March 12, 2009

recovery1The Obama Administration recognizes the importance of the Recovery Act and doing a credible job in its implementation.  The initial emphasis was on accountability to ensure the monies were not ill-spent. 

President Obama emphasized this in his meetings with both governors and mayors. In speaking to state governors on February 23, President Obama said:


“. . . I’m announcing today that I’m asking my Vice President, Joe Biden, to oversee our administration’s implementation efforts.  Beginning this week, Joe will meet regularly with key members of my Cabinet to make sure our efforts are not just swift, but also efficient and effective.  Joe is also going to work closely with you, our nation’s governors, as well as our mayors and everyone else involved in this effort, to keep things on track.  And the fact that I’m asking my Vice President to personally lead this effort shows how important it is for our country and our future to get this right, and I thank him for his willingness to take on this critical task. In the coming weeks, we’re also going to appoint some of the nation’s best managers and public officials to work with the Vice President on this effort.”


He’s been known to call Vice President Biden the “sheriff,” in overseeing the Recovery Act.  There’s been a lot of emphasis on accountability, with the creation of and the creation of the Recovery Act Transparency Board, headed by Earl Devaney.


But it’s increasingly clear that accountability can’t be the primary emphasis.  Obama needs a “trail boss,” not a sheriff!  The Washington Post’s Alec MacGillis says this will be a chance for public servants to show government can work.


The lack of some key appointees has been part of the challenge.  The “normal” government would have seen the deputy director for management at OMB and the deputy secretaries taking the lead in implementing an initiative of this scale.  But these positions are still being filled.  So another approach is being used.


Today, Vice President Biden hosted a conference of state budet officials to describe progress so far on the Recovery Act’s implementation.  He said the President will announce new implementation rules tomorrow.


Here are some of the key pieces of the evolving governance structure that have been developed so far:


Vice President’s Office.  Vice President Biden convened his first meeting on February 24th with an emphasis on transparency and accountability.  But the meeting quickly shifted to implementation, with a high concern over whether the contracting workforce can handle the anticipated increase in their workload (for example, the General Services Administration’s budget is increasing by 1,130 percent, without much of an increase in contract staffing).


Office of Management and Budget.  OMB has taken an early lead by publishing initial guidance, mainly for the reporting requirements in the Act.  Government Executive published a helpful “Economic Stimulus Checklist” to keep the various reporting requirements in line.  Agencies’ first weekly reports on the Recovery Act were due March 3rd.


OMB is also flagging potential problems, such as yesterday’s announcement that the governmentwide portal for grants applications,, could be overwhelmed if steps are not taken to ensure it has the capacity to process the number of expected grants applications.  Agencies have until March 13th to assess their grants management systems.


Office of Personnel Management.  OPM knows that getting the right people in place is going to be a key element of success. It has been pressed to delegate certain authorities to agencies, and in response convened a governmentwide meeting to work out the details.


Agency Recovery Act Coordinators.  The White House asked agencies to designate a point of contact for their agencies.  Lacking political appointees in many agencies, this started slow, but agencies are now making progress. For example, Interior Secretary Salazar named his choice recently.  Agency finance officers are seeing major challenges, as well, according to Government Executive’s Katherine Peters, who says agency chief financial officers are facing staff shortages already, and have a growing workload from other programs, as well.


State Recovery Act Coordinators.  States are designating Recovery Act coordinators as well, to serve not only as a counterpart to their federal coordinators but also to work across their own state governments.  States are creating their own Recovery Act websites as well that are being linked to the federal site.  These sites are in response to the reporting requirements in the Recovery Act.


External Efforts to Monitor Progress. External groups are also evolving to monitor the implementation of the Recovery Act.  For example, StimulusWatch is sponsored by the Sunlight Foundation.

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!

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!



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.