Sen. Voinovich's parting thoughts
How can federal leaders empower and learn from the people that you call "the A Team"--the men and women on the front lines doing the work?
I'm very concerned about the infrastructure of good human relations. In Cleveland, for example, there was a backlog of veterans' disability claims. The VA formed a Tiger Team, and basically it was total quality management. They went to their people who were doing the work and said to them, "Customers are not happy, you are not happy; so how we can we make a difference for these veterans?" And the employees came back with a streamlined system that moved the cases along. As a result, the employees were happier than they had ever been, because they had all gotten together and streamlined the system so they had less people calling and complaining about it. They felt good about themselves and the customers felt good. It's that kind of thing that empowers, that should be encouraged in more places in the federal government.
How can government leaders enlist the support of private-sector partners in accomplishing their goals?
I've always said that government is one thread in the fabric of a community and that to be successful we need to galvanize all the assets in a community, state or nation. I've had more help from the private sector than anyone in the U.S. Senate, and I've been around a long time. I love the concept of recognizing a successful partnership each year, because it generates interest and good old-fashioned American competition. When I was the mayor, shooting for those All American City Awards each year was a real motivator. And it never would have happened without the private sector and urban pioneers helping us rebuild a city where Cleveland used to be. I said on many occasions as mayor, "Will we be talking about the good old days and the past, or will we be talking about the good new days and the future?" The answer to that lies in creating a shared vision to motivate the public-private partnership.
How are you going to be involved with public-private partnerships after you leave the Senate?
I'm going to be very involved with public-private partnerships at the Ohio University Voinovich School for Leadership and Public Affairs when I get home. We are still brainstorming on how to create a curriculum program that will encourage public-private partnerships throughout Ohio. My initial thought would be one-week seminars where we would bring in governmental officials and the business community to share case studies on the variety of partnerships, their ingredients and the public value that has resulted from them.
What do you think are the obstacles to attracting a new generation to public service? How can federal leaders help overcome these obstacles and inspire young talent to serve?
Little things make a difference. Mark McClellan, who ran the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told me that if we hadn't given him the flexibility to go out and hire the actuaries and nurses needed to implement Medicare Part B, he could not have done it. The flexibilities that are out there for the private sector are things that we brought to the federal sector through changes and legislation. We created a better environment in the public sector, so great minds say, "You know something? [Government's] not a bad place to go to work."
There are a lot of people out there with skills that we need in the federal government to really improve our operations. We need to zero in on those people right now, with the thought that any of them available now may not be available in five years. If we get them into the federal system, they find out that in addition to making a living, they can also make a real difference in the lives of their fellow citizens. I think that has to be a part of the conversation when working for the government. If you're in the government just because of the money, I don't think you would be in it for long.
December 8, 2010; 10:15 AM ET |
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