Posts Tagged ‘Terry Sullivan’

Obama Appointees: Not Yet Halfway There

August 24, 2009

“Seven months into his presidency, fewer than half of his top appointees are in place advancing his agenda,” notes Peter Baker in a New York Times story, “Obama’s Team Is Lacking Most of Its Top Players.”

He goes on to say: “Of more than 500 senior policymaking positions requiring Senate confirmation, just 43 percent have been filled. . . . ”  He notes that Obama is trying to fix the financial markets but has no assistant secretary for financial markets.  He is fighting two wars but has no secretary of the Army, and is holding a summit on nuclear nonproliferation but has no assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation.

Dr. Terry Sullivan, executive director of the White House Transition Project, told Baker “If you are running G.M. without half your senior executives in place, are you worried? I’d say your stockholders would be going nuts.”

Baker also describes how there is more progress in putting officials in place than in other recent administrations and how the finger-pointing for the slow pace is “being freely passed around” between the executive and legislative branches.  The White House personnel office offers a higher count of appointees; other sources (such as the Washington Post’s Head Count website) offer lower counts, depending on what positions are included or excluded from the counting.

In a separate story, Chris Dorobek describes how the confirmation of Martha Johnson as administrator of the General Services Administration is being held up in the Senate.  He offers several reasons that are bipartisan in nature:  Senator Harry Reid (D-NV) is mad at GSA for discouraging government conferences in resort locations, like his home state city of Las Vegas, and Senator Kit Bond (R-MO) is blocking action because he wants a federal office building built in Kansas City. . . . meanwhile GSA has no top leader while the agency is facing an historic challenge to effectively manage  a 1,100 percent increase in its spending for the coming year under the Recovery Act.


First 100 Days: Terry Sullivan

February 13, 2009

Dr. Terry Sullivan, in his study, “Presidential Work During the First One Hundred Days,” analyzes the work schedules of Presidents Dwight Eisenhower through George H. W. Bush during their first 100 days in office. With 50,000 observations of 20,000 events over nearly four decades, the report takes on two tasks: describing the president’s workday and drawing conclusions about commitment, engagement, isolation, organizational choices, and effectiveness.


In an interview with Government Executive’s Michelle Williams, he says “it’s an easy standard to hold every president against, to compare every president to.”  In this vein, several media outlets are monitoring “the first 100 days.”  These include:  BBC’s Obama Diary, CNN’s First 100 Days, and Huffington Post’s Obama’s First 100 Days. 


Dr. Sullivan’s data, which took a number of years to compile from a variety of official records, shows that presidents experienced a 30 percent increase in their workdays since Eisenhower.    His look at details, such as the amount of time on the phone, in one-on-one meetings, in groups, events, or on travel, showed interesting patterns between presidents during their first 100 days and, in some cases, dispelled some historical myths.  For example, Reagan, not Nixon, was the most isolated.  Sullivan also found that president’s with greater hierarchy in their operations had not only more productive work days but also had increased ranges of engagement with outsiders.


It will be interesting to see how future scholars rate the more recent presidents.  They’ll have to add a new time-tracking category for President Obama – time spent on email and his Blackberry!

Transition Triple-Header

October 3, 2008

On Wednesday, October 15th, there will be three different events focused on the upcoming presidential transition:

The 1105 Government Information Group:  “Today’s Strategy for Tomorrow’s Administration”
Four Points Sheraton, Washington, DC.
8:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (open registration; fees:  $295 government; $595 industry)

This conference is co-sponsored with the IBM Center for The Business of Government, INPUT, the American Society of Public Administration, Partnership for Public Service, FedSource, and ITAA.

The 1105 Government Information Group will bring together senior-level government officials, leading figures in academia and public policy, and CXOs from industry, to discuss the technology business and organizational challenges brought about by a change in administration, and effective strategies and tactics for dealing with that change.
Feature speakers schooled in the art of successful transitions will address these issues:  
• How government agencies transition key leadership positions and define roles and responsibilities
• How to sustain program momentum during a transition
• What budget, program and policy planning companies should be doing now to prepare for transition
• How industry can reap the benefits of transition – from personnel to programs
• How government agencies can help prepare industry for changes in a new administration.

Speakers will include: Paul Light, New York University; Allan Lichtman, American University; and Gail Lovelace, transition director, General Services Administration.

A detailed agenda and registration details:  are available.

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An American University Conference:  “Presidential Transitions: From Campaigning to Governing”
Location: 1333 H St., NW; Washington, DC.   9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (no registration fee but space is limited; Please RSVP to by Monday, October 13)

This conference is co-hosted by the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, the Kennedy Political Union, and the Center for American Progress.   This conference will bring together academics and practitioners to discuss successes and failures in past presidential transitions. There will be a special focus on the promise made by both 2008 presidential candidates to “change the way Washington works.” Can it be changed? Should it be changed? What advice can be given to improve the way the next president will work with Congress?

– DRAFT Agenda –

8:30-9:00a.m.              Registration and light breakfast

9:00-9:15a.m.              Welcome:  Dr. James A. Thurber:  Distinguished Professor and Director, Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University and editor of Rivals for Power: Presidential-Congressional Relations

9:15-10:30a.m.            Panel:  Structuring a White House Legislative Affairs Office
** Chair: Dr. James A. Thurber
** Patrick Griffin:  Former Assistant to President Clinton for Legislative Affairs and Academic Director of the Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute at American University
** Gary Andres:  Former Assistant for Legislative Affairs to President George H. W. Bush and Vice Chairman of Public Policy and Research at Dutko Worldwide
** Maggie Williams (invited):  Former  Campaign Manager to Hillary Rodham Clinton and Chief of Staff in the First Lady’s Office

10:30 – 10:45a.m.       Break

10:45a.m.-12:00p.m.  Panel: Policy Making in a Polarized Congress
** Chair: Scott Lilly:  Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and former Staff Director of the House Appropriations Committee
(Other panelists to be announced)

 12:00pm-12:30pm      Buffet lunch

12:30p.m.-2:00p.m.    Clay Johnson III:  Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management Budget and former Executive Director of the Bush-Cheney Presidential Transition

1:45-3:00p.m.   Panel:  Working with Congress: Lessons from Past Presidential Transitions
** Martha Kumar:  Professor of Political Science at Townson University and co-founder of the White House Transition Project
** Jim Pfiffner:  Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University and author of The Strategic Presidency: Hitting the Ground Running
** Terry Sullivan:  Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Executive Director of the White House Transition Project
** Stephen Wayne:  Professor of Government at Georgetown University and author of The Road to the White House and The Legislative Presidency

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OMB Watch:  “Workshop on Strengthening Government Performance Systems in the Next Administration”
8:00 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., at the offices of the National Academy for Public Administration (invited participants only; results will be published). Co-hosted by the National Academy for Public Administration, Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute, and Accenture.

This workshop will help make recommendations for the next administration for strengthening government performance systems.  NAPA Academy Fellows Harry Hatry, Shelley Metzenbaum, Beryl Radin, and Robert Shea are playing integral roles as members of the advisory group for this project. 

OMB Watch has partnered with Georgetown University’s Public Policy Institute (GPPI) and Accenture’s Institute for Public Service in this project to develop consensus recommendations for how to improve government performance measurement systems. As a part of this project, they are holding a day-long workshop to bring together a diverse group of policy experts, academics, government representatives, and outside stakeholders with the goal of finding areas of consensus, identifying areas of disagreement, and defining top priorities for the next administration.

Participants will review three short papers prior to the event that will help frame the issues and guide discussions. The focus of the day will be on providing feedback, comments, and perspectives about improving performance measurement at the federal level. The information and recommendations gathered during this workshop will serve as one of the main components in the final report of the project. For additional background documents and information, members of the informal Advisory Group for the project, and other details, visit the project website.

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Oh yes, . . . . and don’t forget that Wednesday, October 15th is the last of the presidential debates!