With the federal government on a path to financial incapacity — economists warn entitlement programs will consume all federal revenues between 2020 and 2030 — Washington cannot waste a minute in bringing reform to the business of government.
Deep savings, operational efficiencies and improved performance are critical.
The Obama administration is taking a promising approach in identifying problem areas — including energy use, facilities management, contracting and information technology — and then adopting targeted goals aimed at savings and better results.
last week, President Obama outlined a goal of cutting indirect greenhouse gas emissions 13 percent by 2020. That is to be achieved mostly by increased telecommuting and reduced business travel. he also directed agencies to develop specific goals for reducing on-the-job injuries and workplace-related illnesses as measures toward increasing productivity.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has embraced the demand for savings by aggressively and publicly pushing for big cuts in overhead, bloat and redundancy. The Defense Department is considering bold options such as shutting down entire military commands and directorates, making huge cuts in both federal and contractor staffing, and halting major weapon acquisitions.
But other quarters of government are not showing the same decisive leadership.
All agencies should be thinking about how they can radically overhaul their current operations to be leaner and more effective.
Obama should require all agencies to review carefully their standard operating procedures and find ways to operate more efficiently. Tens of thousands of federal employees are leaving every year, a fact that provides opportunities to reorganize how business is conducted and to reduce payroll through better management and workplace efficiencies.
And in many cases, better management may mean fewer managers: Most experts agree agencies have far too many management layers. Now is the time for agencies to envision leaner organizations and strive for more optimal supervisor-to-employee ratios.
The Obama administration must aim its sights squarely on eliminating redundant and unnecessary government operations. And it must demand that all agencies stop doing business as usual because the nation simply can no longer afford inefficiencies, redundancies and waste.