David Osborne, co-author of the popular Reinventing Government book in the early 1990s and one of my intellectual mentors in government reform, published a column in the current issue of Government Executive magazine offering his advice to the next president, titled “Weeding the Federal Garden.”
In it he offers several recommendations:
- Move beyond assessing programs to choosing among them. First, define outcomes important to Americans — like healthier people or a cleaner environment — and then organize a team around each outcome to identify those existing programs that contribute to those outcomes. Rank those programs from most to least effective. When the money runs out, draw a line. This ranking process has been used effectively in Iowa. It has the added benefit of encouraging agencies to work across boundaries. Second, create performance agreements between cabinet secretaries and the president and measure progress toward goals via a “Fed-Stat” modeled after Baltimore’s successful Citi-Stat.
- Focus on customers. Renew the Clinton Administration focus on customer service standards and surveys. Pass the Customer Service Enhancement Act which passed the House last year but is languishing in the Senate.
- Give managers authority to actually serve citizens: encourage innovation like the Clinton Reinvention Labs, waivers to internal rules that stood in their way, and awards to those that succeed. Create performance-based organizations, remove management layers, and finish civil service reform by abolishing the General Schedule job classification system and moving to pay-banding.