President Clinton last week created an interagency council that will meet each month to discuss ways to improve the day-to-day administration of federal agencies.
Clinton issued an executive order establishing the Interagency Council on Administrative Management on June 11. But the group of senior officials who will make up the council have been meeting informally for a number of years, said John Koskinen, deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget.
Several chiefs of staff and assistant secretaries for management around the government created a lunch group for themselves to discuss basic operational issues confronting senior managers. The members advise each other on administrative issues like hiring and discipline procedures.
When Koskinen learned about the group, he suggested a formal designation for it so that it could make official recommendations to OMB, the Office of Personnel Management and other agencies.
Koskinen heads the President's Management Council (PMC), which handles management policy issues across agencies. He said the administrative management council is important because it handles issues that are "the next layer down below the radar screen of the PMC but that are still important issues with which agencies must deal."
A unique feature of the new council is that its executive order does not say which officials from agencies should be members. That means senior managers who want to participate on the council do not have to hold a specific job title to get involved. However, the deputy director for management at OMB is designated as the council's chairperson and representatives of the Chief Financial Officers Council, the Chief Information Officers Council, the Federal Procurement Council, the Interagency Advisory Group of Federal Personnel Directors and the Small Agency Council are expected to join.
Koskinen said the group will be free to deal with issues its members are interested in. "This will be a group that sets its own agenda," he said, adding it was important to keep the group as flexible as possible.
According to Clinton's executive order, the council will "explore opportunities for more effective use of government resources," support the activities of other interagency management groups, and "identify successful administrative management practices, including quality management practices, and assist in their governmentwide dissemination and implementation."
The Interagency Council on Administrative Management replaces the now defunct President's Council on Management Improvement, established by executive order in 1984, which has not been active for several years. The new council's executive order also revokes two orders that established and revised an executive branch productivity improvement program.
"We got rid of three executive orders for the price of one new one," Koskinen said.