Fedblog FedblogFedblog
Government Executive Editor in Chief Tom Shoop, along with other editors and staff correspondents, look at the federal bureaucracy from the outside in.

Improving Government the 'Moneyball' Way

ARCHIVES

Last week the movie version of the Michael Lewis book Moneyball opened, starring Brad Pitt in the role of Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane.

Beane is portrayed in the book and the film as a heroic challenger to baseball's conventional wisdom who developed a new method of evaluating players and assessing overall team strengths that enabled his small-market club to compete against much better capitalized behemoths like the New York Yankees. So it's not surprising that the Office of Management and Budget now wants federal agencies to follow the Billy Beane model.

moneyball-poster.jpg

Today on OMB's blog, Shelley Metzenbaum, the agency's associate director of performance and personnel management, writes that the Obama administration "has been taking its own Moneyball approach to management, driving performance and, ultimately, saving money":

Like Beane, who understood that his goal was to win games - not hit the most home runs, government agencies must learn to be clear about what they want to accomplish and not get stuck in the rut of doing what they have always done. That means setting real, achievable goals that align with agency mission, and sticking to them. For some agencies or programs, that means staying focused on preventing bad things, like accidents and pollution, from happening and reducing their costs when they do - rather than focusing on process goals like completing plan reviews. Processes can be important in achieving the goal, but we should never confuse them with the ultimate goal. To achieve more, government agencies need a clear understanding of the goals each wants to accomplish, focusing on the ultimate goals rather than intermediate process steps.

That seems like pretty good advice. But the folks at OMB might want to be a little careful about how far they take the Moneyball analogy. In the years between the publication of the book in 2003 and the debut of the movie, it's become clear that the Billy Beane story is a little complicated. For example, there's the inconvenient fact that the A's haven't won the World Series in the Beane years, while other small-market teams less single-mindedly focused on analytics have. (And the A's haven't even made the playoffs lately). Meanwhile, the free-spending teams like the Yankees and Boston Red Sox have married a more data-driven approach with massive spending on key free agent players to great success.

That could lead one to conclude that the appropriate use of analytics, when combined with big increases in budgets, is the real path to performance improvement. But it's doubtful that's an approach OMB wants to endorse.

Tom Shoop is vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees both print and online editorial operations. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.

FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

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

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

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