Two Bureaucracies

Success and dysfunction in a time of fiscal and political crisis.

The federal government always seems to be in the midst of one crisis or another. These days, the emergency is fiscal in nature, and it has brought government under closer scrutiny than ever. As the country struggles to dig itself out of a deep economic hole, and political debates become more contentious, agencies are trapped in the middle. Some federal officials and operations manage to succeed, even thrive, under such circumstances. Others descend into a state approaching bureaucratic stasis.

In this month's issue, we present in-depth examinations of organizations at both ends of the spectrum. In our cover story, Charlie Clark explores how the Health and Human Services Department is working to implement the massive health care reform law. That involves writing thousands of pages of new regulations, launching programs, setting up evaluation systems and creating a website to showcase data from its Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight.

But that effort, which involves spending billions, is anathema to GOP lawmakers who have continued their fight against passage of the wide-ranging measure into the effort to implement the law. Still, despite pressure from Capitol Hill, HHS officials are continuing to do their jobs, winning the praise of analysts who note that progress in implementing the law is all the more impressive given constraints on staffing.

Meanwhile, in our other feature story in this issue, freelance writer Dawn Lim, a former Government Executive intern, looks at how the administrative law judge operation at the Housing and Urban Development Department has sunk into a dysfunctional morass of legal arguments and counterarguments.

The department's only two ALJs have sued their boss, saying he has improperly interfered with their operations. While those cases are pending, the judges say they have an ethical obligation to offer to disqualify themselves from deciding cases involving the department-which, of course, are virtually the only types of cases that come before them.

HUD has been forced to contract out cases to judges at other agencies, but says it doesn't have unlimited funds to keep doing so. In the meantime, housing developers and other parties involved in administrative proceedings at HUD are caught in the middle of what an attorney for one developer called a "bureaucratic disgrace."

There may be no simple solution to the problems in HUD's administrative law operations, just as there's no easy way for HHS to meet its obligations under a political microscope. But at a moment when public support for government is dipping lower, one hopes that more federal agencies find a way to rise above their circumstances and demonstrate they can work effectively.

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.