Bush reform plan rests on e-government, management cuts

While President Bush did not mention government reform in his inaugural speech, he articulated a broad series of initiatives to change the way government does business on the campaign trail. As the new President settles into the Oval Office, here's a look at some of the federal management reforms he promised during the campaign.

Bush eschewed the anti-government rhetoric used by some conservatives early in Campaign 2000, pledging to create "a limited government, respected for doing a few things and doing them well." The former Texas governor removed anti-government planks from the GOP platform at the Republican convention.

Bush spelled out his core proposals for government reform in a few speeches delivered early last summer. He called for a fundamental redesign of the way government delivers services, eliminating layers of middle management and using public-private partnerships to create a results-focused government. Bush also promised to make e-government a priority in his administration, proposing to establish a federal CIO with responsibility for coordinating information technology issues throughout government. Specific government reform initiatives proposed by Bush include:
  • Eliminate 40,000 middle management jobs over the next five years.
  • Open at least 90,000 jobs not identified as inherently governmental under the Federal Activities Inventory Reform Act to competition from the private sector.
  • Establish a federal "Sunset Review Board" to recommend eliminating programs deemed unnecessary or duplicative.
  • Move all significant government procurement to the Internet within three years.
  • Convert at least half of all federal service contracts to performance-based contracts.
  • Enforce the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) by recommending higher levels of funding for programs that work. Agency inspector generals will enforce the accuracy of GPRA reports and the Office of Management and Budget will factor the results into budget decisions.
  • Create a biennial federal budgeting process.
  • Conduct a complete review of military needs.

Designed under the guidance of former Indianapolis mayor and campaign advisor Stephen Goldsmith, Bush's proposals received high marks from good government experts for their attention to the issue of government structure. "If you don't talk about structure, you're going nowhere," said Brookings Institution scholar Paul Light in June.

But federal unions expressed concern over Bush's intention to eliminate 40,000 managerial positions. "I think it's very premature to set a number of managers that he's going to eliminate," said American Federation of Government Employees Bobby Harnage in December. "If [Bush] intends to make government smaller, I hope he'll rightsize it rather than downsize it."

Bush assembled a Cabinet team with considerable management experience in the private sector. New Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill ran Alcoa and International Paper, while OMB Director-designate Mitch Daniels has a background as a pharmaceutical executive. Bush also named Texas budget expert Albert Hawkins as his liaison to the Cabinet to assist on management issues. Widely rumored to be the head of a proposed White House office of "faith-based programs," Goldsmith has yet to receive a position in the Bush administration.

Shortly after his inauguration on Saturday, Bush issued an order requiring that all agencies' hiring decisions be reviewed by Bush administration officials before employees are hired.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
Close [ x ] More from GovExec

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Going Agile:Revolutionizing Federal Digital Services Delivery

    Here’s one indication that times have changed: Harriet Tubman is going to be the next face of the twenty dollar bill. Another sign of change? The way in which the federal government arrived at that decision.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • GBC Issue Brief: The Future of 9-1-1

    A Look Into the Next Generation of Emergency Services

  • GBC Survey Report: Securing the Perimeters

    A candid survey on cybersecurity in state and local governments

  • The New IP: Moving Government Agencies Toward the Network of The Future

    Federal IT managers are looking to modernize legacy network infrastructures that are taxed by growing demands from mobile devices, video, vast amounts of data, and more. This issue brief discusses the federal government network landscape, as well as market, financial force drivers for network modernization.

  • eBook: State & Local Cybersecurity

    CenturyLink is committed to helping state and local governments meet their cybersecurity challenges. Towards that end, CenturyLink commissioned a study from the Government Business Council that looked at the perceptions, attitudes and experiences of state and local leaders around the cybersecurity issue. The results were surprising in a number of ways. Learn more about their findings and the ways in which state and local governments can combat cybersecurity threats with this eBook.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.