Reinvention, Bush Style

In a speech in Philadelphia in early June, George W. Bush answered many of the questions about how he would change the management of the executive branch. For starters, Bush said, he would eliminate 40,000 middle management jobs over the next five years. He also pledged to open up for competition at least half of all federal jobs not defined as "inherently governmental."

In the speech, Bush called for "a departure from old ways of government." He said that while Vice President Al Gore's reinventing government effort had reduced low- and mid-level jobs in government, the middle and senior management levels of government have grown in the past eight years.

"We now have Washington offices crowded with people bearing titles like 'associate principal deputy assistant secretary' or 'principal deputy to the deputy assistant secretary,''' Bush said.

To address that issue, Bush said he would not replace 40,000 of the 80,000 senior and middle managers who are projected to retire over the next five years, and would eliminate layers of management in agencies.

Bush also proposed to:

  • Appoint a governmentwide chief information officer to accelerate e-government efforts.
  • Require agencies to pass their annual financial audits.
  • Enforce the Government Performance and Results Act by recommending higher levels of funding for programs that work. Agency inspector generals, Bush said, will certify the accuracy of GPRA reports, and Office of Management and Budget will factor the results into budget decisions.
  • Establish a federal "Sunset Review Board" to recommend eliminating programs deemed unnecessary or duplicative.
  • Convert at least half of all federal service contracts to performance-based contracts.
  • Create performance incentives in the federal civil service system to reward achievement and attract job candidates from the private sector.
  • Move all significant government procurement to the Internet within three years.
  • Open to competition from the private sector at least half of the 900,000 federal jobs not identified as inherently governmental under the Federal Activities Inventory Reform (FAIR) Act. (For a complete roundup of agencies' FAIR Act jobs lists, see GovExec.com's FAIR Act Report at www.govexec.com/fairact.)

Bush said the reforms would save $88 billion over five years.

"For all the [Clinton] administration's rhetoric about reinvention," Bush said, "they never ask fundamental questions about the purpose of government-what it is doing, or whether it should be doing it at all. At a time when private businesses are turning to leaner management teams, Washington keeps adding new managers. They haven't reinvented government bureaucracy-they've just reshuffled it."

In an earlier speech in Knoxville, Tenn., Bush outlined reforms in the political management of government. These included:

  • Shifting to a two-year budgeting process.
  • Asking Congress to act on the next President's proposed political appointees within 60 days.
  • Creating a commission to identify pork-barrel spending projects.
  • Enacting legislation that would guarantee the government would not shut down during end-of-fiscal-year budget squabbles.
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