Editor's Notebook

tclark@govexec.com

Timothy B. Clark

Buried beneath the news of trillion-dollar surpluses last month were two items of not-so-good news for those who care about our public sector.

First, the National Academy of Public Administration released a report decrying the cynicism and distrust that characterizes many citizens' view of their government. "Americans love their country and its Constitution, but many do not like and do not trust their government," said the report, adding that the "very high levels and deep resilience of civic distrust in recent decades do not appear . . . to be routine or benign."

To reduce distrust of elected officials and strengthen the civil service, NAPA called for "rationalization of our ethics laws and their enforcement mechanisms, improved salaries and benefits for key public employees carrying exceptional responsibilities and leadership burdens, a reduction in hostility in the Senate confirmation process, and improved nurturing and cultivation of the senior civil service." And it urged agencies to focus on customer service in order to combat citizens' belief that government often fails to produce results.

Separately, the Pricewaterhouse- Coopers Endowment for the Business of Government released a survey of Senior Executive Service members identifying compensation as a major problem in recruiting and retaining capable people for top civil service jobs.

"The current federal executive compensation system clearly is a 'worst practice'-a system in which executive compensation is severely compressed and capped, and one that provides few incentives for performance," said Ian Littman, co-chairman of the endowment.

With trust so low, and keeping the right people in place to run important enterprises so difficult, one answer might be just to close up shop. That's the drift at NASA. The once-proud premier research-and-development agency is selling itself off to the private sector, as we report this month. Its leaders are probing a new frontier in privatization, where almost anything is up for sale.

But there is good news as well. Last month's Excellence in Government '99 conference was full of it-inspiring tales of many agencies' efforts to improve service to the public. More than 1,000 of your colleagues came together at the conference, which was the product of more than a year's planning and work.

As lead organizers, we at Government Executive owe a debt of gratitude to the 11 organizations that joined us as hosts: Vice President Al Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Government, the Office of Personnel Management, the American Federation of Government Employees, the National Treasury Employees Union, the Council for Excellence in Government, the National Academy of Public Administration, the American Society for Public Administration, The Brookings Institution, The George Washington University, the Innovations in American Government Program-co-sponsored by Harvard and the Ford Foundation-and the Association for Quality and Participation.

And the conference could not have fulfilled its educational promise without support from corporations that got behind the effort: American Management Systems, Anser, Arthur D. Little, Bank of America, BMC Software, CDWG, Keane, Logicon, Microsoft, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Visa. Thanks go to them as well.

Tim sig2 5/3/96
Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
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:

  • Sponsored by Brocade

    Best of 2016 Federal Forum eBook

    Earlier this summer, Federal and tech industry leaders convened to talk security, machine learning, network modernization, DevOps, and much more at the 2016 Federal Forum. This eBook includes a useful summary highlighting the best content shared at the 2016 Federal Forum to help agencies modernize their network infrastructure.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    GBC Flash Poll Series: Merger & Acquisitions

    Download this GBC Flash Poll to learn more about federal perspectives on the impact of industry consolidation.

    Download
  • Sponsored by One Identity

    One Nation Under Guard: Securing User Identities Across State and Local Government

    In 2016, the government can expect even more sophisticated threats on the horizon, making it all the more imperative that agencies enforce proper identity and access management (IAM) practices. In order to better measure the current state of IAM at the state and local level, Government Business Council (GBC) conducted an in-depth research study of state and local employees.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    The Next Federal Evolution of Cloud

    This GBC report explains the evolution of cloud computing in federal government, and provides an outlook for the future of the cloud in government IT.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    A DevOps Roadmap for the Federal Government

    This GBC Report discusses how DevOps is steadily gaining traction among some of government's leading IT developers and agencies.

    Download
  • Sponsored by LTC Partners, administrators of the Federal Long Term Care Insurance Program

    Approaching the Brink of Federal Retirement

    Approximately 10,000 baby boomers are reaching retirement age per day, and a growing number of federal employees are preparing themselves for the next chapter of their lives. Learn how to tackle the challenges that today's workforce faces in laying the groundwork for a smooth and secure retirement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Hewlett Packard Enterprise

    Cyber Defense 101: Arming the Next Generation of Government Employees

    Read this issue brief to learn about the sector's most potent challenges in the new cyber landscape and how government organizations are building a robust, threat-aware infrastructure

    Download
  • Sponsored by Aquilent

    GBC Issue Brief: Cultivating Digital Services in the Federal Landscape

    Read this GBC issue brief to learn more about the current state of digital services in the government, and how key players are pushing enhancements towards a user-centric approach.

    Download
  • Sponsored by CDW-G

    Joint Enterprise Licensing Agreements

    Read this eBook to learn how defense agencies can achieve savings and efficiencies with an Enterprise Software Agreement.

    Download
  • Sponsored by Cloudera

    Government Forum Content Library

    Get all the essential resources needed for effective technology strategies in the federal landscape.

    Download

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