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Report calls for 'enterprise' government

Aug. 8, 2013 - 05:01PM   |  
By SEAN REILLY   |   Comments

Federal agencies need to redouble efforts to share information technology, topple bureaucratic stovepipes and train executives to focus on accomplishment of governmentwide goals, a new report says.

The govenrment must act more like an enterprise to achieve tasks that individual agencies “cannot effectively tackle on their own,” the Partnership for Public Service said in the report released Thursday.

“Today’s challenges rarely fit into nice, neat bureaucratic boxes,” the report says.

Specifically, the report recommends:

■ Creating a performance plan that sets governmentwide goals and timetables for achieving them, with oversight responsibility resting with the President’s Management Council, which is an interagency group of deputy secretaries and chief operating officers.

■ Developing “career enterprise executives” to lead missions that cross agency lines. While the Senior Executive Service was created 35 years ago with that aim in mind, SES members have become “as organizationally stove-piped as the government they serve,” the report says.

■ Stepping up IT-sharing efforts by “bundling” email, cloud and other services into governmentwide portfolios.

■ Customizing the federal pay system to let agencies better recruit and retain employees in “mission-critical occupations.”

The report, produced with consultant Booz Allen Hamilton, acknowledges that the Obama administration has taken some steps toward these objectives.

The Chief Information Officers Council launched a shared IT services strategy more than a year ago, for example. And the White House has set 14 cross-agency priority goals — such as reducing improper payments and better managing the government’s vast real estate holdings — in response to the Government Performance and Results Modernization Act signed in early 2011.

The report also applauds agencies’ unified response to Hurricane Sandy last fall and the partnership between the Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development departments to end veterans’ homelessness by 2015.

But it also urges the administration to more forcefully tackle duplication and overlap throughout government and seek a strengthened oversight role for the President’s Management Council, which currently functions only as an advisory body.

Noting Obama’s call last month for “a smarter, more innovative and more accountable government,” the report concludes that all that and more is within reach “by taking a coordinated enterprise-wide approach to managing government missions and internal operations rather than relying on the narrow program-and agency-centric framework now in place.”

“These are not small changes,” the report concludes. “No single agency can accomplish any one of them alone, especially in this age of austerity.”

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