Performance Evaluation

It’s no secret that President Obama wants health care reform to be the signature domestic policy achievement of his presidency. He even has embraced the “Obamacare” label that his political opponents tried to slap on it as a term of derision.

But when it came time to implement the law, things went south in a hurry. The disastrous rollout of HealthCare.gov turned out to be among the lowest points of Obama’s presidency. While an emergency crew managed to right the ship in time to sign up millions of enrollees, substantial additional implementation hurdles lie ahead. 

All presidents want to be known for bold policy achievements, but their defining moments often involve the implementation of policies and the management of core federal operations. Chief executives strive for political glory when they would be better off paying attention to making government work.

That’s among the reasons why we decided to focus this issue of Government Executive around the theme of performance and efficiency. It centers on three pieces:

  • Donald F. Kettl, dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, analyzes how President Obama must leverage the world-class federal performance management system under development to improve critical government operations in the remainder of his term.
  • Senior Correspondent Charlie Clark takes an in-depth look at how the Commerce Department has managed to unite its widely diverse agencies around key performance strategies and goals. 
  • In an excerpt from his new book, Innovative State, former federal Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra tells the story of how small groups of entrepreneurs can transform government services. 

What these pieces all demonstrate is that in an era in which squeezing the most out of every federal dollar has become paramount, a sharp focus on performance improvement and demonstrated results will be critical to agencies’ success.

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