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Archive: Change management

Government Reform: Business unusual in Washington

The federal government desperately needs the same kind of overhaul today. But it cannot be done with a heavy dose of angry rhetoric. Just as Americans want an end to business-as-usual in politics, they also want the federal government to do its job at the lowest cost and highest efficiency. Americans have been watching government rust for 60 years now. It is time for Democrats and Republicans to drop the gloves and start drafting big-ticket reform.

By Paul Light | January 21, 2011; 04:42 PM ET | Comments (5)

Time to give GAO a big job

Now that Dodaro is in charge, he ought think hard about what GAO might do to be a more aggressive player in reshaping the federal bureaucracy. With Congress and the president searching for ways to cooperate, GAO could be the swing player in actual progress.

By Paul Light | January 13, 2011; 04:48 PM ET | Comments (0)

What the next round of federal cuts should look like

Under this more nuanced approach, federal employment just might remain at its current 2.1 million mark, and could even go higher. However, headcount is not the key measure of success. Not only would the personnel budget almost certainly fall, the public would receive much better service. Backlogs would fall, regulations would be enforced, inspections would rise and the public would regain a measure of confidence that the federal government is spending its money wisely to honor the promises it makes.

By Paul Light | December 14, 2010; 09:45 AM ET | Comments (40)

Strengthening the inspectors general

If Issa wants the offices to identify poorly performing programs, he should take a hard look at the IGs and their offices first. He also should talk to Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) for sure--she engineered a major bill last year to strengthen IG independence. But the offices will need more staff and a good dose of courage to do the new job, which should include more aggressive reviews of the tepid measures that most agencies use to judge performance. He also might start with a serious winnowing of the current cadre of IGs. Some were appointed solely for the campaign experience, and others for their compliance. He should target them for exit, and empower the rest.

By Paul Light | December 2, 2010; 10:27 AM ET | Comments (12)

Want to actually trim government bloat? Start with the hidden workforce

Poor leadership is no doubt partially to blame, but so is the bureaucratic sloth, the hyper-inflated performance appraisal process, the absence of encouragement to break the mold and innovate, and the failed disciplinary system that keeps poor performers on the job long after they should have been fired. There is nothing quite so demoralizing to high performers than sitting next to clock-watchers who long ago forgot the public purpose that should motivate them to action.

By Paul Light | November 19, 2010; 09:44 AM ET | Comments (25)

Darrell Issa's chance to make his mark on government oversight

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) is now poised to become chairman of the House Government Oversight and Reform Committee. As chairman of the most powerful oversight committee in the new Republican House, Issa will have enormous power to set the agenda for both monitoring government and changing it. ssa is right to mount an aggressive oversight agenda--that's his committee's responsibility, and has been for decades. But just what kind of oversight will he do and will it lead to real government reform?

By Paul Light | November 4, 2010; 03:43 PM ET | Comments (26)

The 'polargeists' are coming--now what?

Washington is set for the arrival of a vast new class of Democratic and Republican "polargeists" who will create even more of the clanking disruption of recent political polarization. They're not so much "baaaack," as the little girl said in Poltergeist II, but they're going to invade Washington en masse. The polargeist cause will be big and bad. The midterm election may yet swing a bit back toward the Democrats, but Republicans are poised to retake the House and will almost certainly occupy a majority of the governorships that will play such a significant role in the congressional redistricting based on the 2010 census. Polarization will reign supreme on issue after issue as the two parties prepare for a electoral cage match in 2012.

By Paul Light | October 28, 2010; 02:03 PM ET | Comments (4)

Senior Executive Service: The key to real reform

The President's Office of Management and Budget is trying hard to engage the federal government 8,000 senior executives in fixing the federal bureaucracy. The deputy director of OMB sent a thirteen-page memo to members of the Senior Executive Service (SES) this week outlining its agenda for reform. The memo was gentle but strong. It called on the SESers to do their part in pushing reform. If they don't buy into the administration's effort, there is virtually no chance that the agenda will succeed.

By Paul Light | September 15, 2010; 11:29 AM ET | Comments (1)

Make it Easier to Say "Yes" to Social Change in Government

The baby boom generation is moving toward retirement with unfinished business. The generation has created more problems than it has solved, and continues to do so. Social security and Medicare are straining under increased pay-outs, global warming seems to be accelerating, the number of poor Americans increases every day, and...

By Paul Light | September 1, 2010; 08:47 AM ET | Comments (11)

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