The Vision Thing

Barack Obama thinks big, and wants to leave the management details to others.

Back in January, when Barack Obama was locked in a battle for the Democratic presidential nomination with Hillary Clinton, he took on a question that would dog him not only throughout the primaries, but in the general election campaign as well: Which is more important, a clear vision for change or experienced leadership?

In an interview with Nevada's Reno Gazette-Journal, Obama stated his case, declaring that he wasn't running for the position of "operating officer" of the government. "Some in this debate around experience seem to think the job of the president is to go in and run some bureaucracy," he said. "Well, that's not my job. My job is to set a vision of 'here's where the bureaucracy needs to go.' "

In a subsequent debate, Clinton challenged Obama's assumptions, saying a president must "be able to manage and run the bureaucracy."

Obama backed down-a little. "There's no doubt that you've got to be a good manager," he said. "And that's not what I was arguing. The point, in terms of bringing together a team, is that you get the best people and you're able to execute and hold them accountable." Still, he added, "what has been missing is the ability to bring people together, to mobilize the country, to move us in a better direction, and to be straight with the American people."

Given Obama's stance, it's not surprising that, as Robert Brodsky reports in our cover story this month, he has been somewhat circumspect about exactly what he would do in the federal management arena if he's elected.

But as the campaign entered its final stages, Obama dropped some hints. He said he wanted to re-invigorate public service, even "make government cool again." And he indicated that an Obama administration might pick up where the Clinton administration left off with its reinventing government agenda, slipping the old REGO catchphrase about a government that "works better and costs less" into his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Denver.

To help bring Obama's vision for the future of the federal bureaucracy into focus, Brodsky has dug deep into his policy proposals and interviewed a wide range of his advisers, along with outside observers and former Clinton officials. What emerges is an ambitious plan for a transparent, high-tech, efficient government. Now all that remains is to see whether Obama will get a chance to put his vision to the test in the real world.

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:

  • 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.