Agency leaders urge Bush to continue management council

Top agency officials last week urged President-elect Bush to take advantage of the President's Management Council to help push through his government management agenda. Current and former council members joined Margaret L. Yao, president of MLY Consulting and author of the PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment report "The President's Management Council: An Important Management Innovation," to discuss the council's successes on pushing through initiatives such as the online federal information portal FirstGov, and recommend ways the next President can use the council to build support for his government management agenda. "For the first time in the history of American government, a council of deputies, performing new roles as chief operating officers of their departments and agencies, has come together to focus on and lead government-wide management issues.... The PMC is a powerful tool for your administration for better, not just good, government," said Yao in a memo to the President-elect at the beginning of the report. Created in 1993 as part of the Clinton administration's reinventing government effort, the council includes top management officials at major agencies-usually the deputy secretaries-who provide support for important governmentwide management issues, while sharing best practices and problems with each other during informal, confidential meetings. Sally Katzen, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, chairs the group. For the last seven years, the council has focused on and supported a number of critical federal management issues including electronic government, balanced performance measures for senior executives, downsizing and the Government Performance and Results Act. "If the next administration doesn't keep it [the council] going, it better have something like it," said Robert Mallett, deputy secretary at the Commerce Department and a current council member. Current and former council members said the group's confidentiality clause and "principals only" rule fostered an atmosphere of trust and camaraderie that encouraged members to talk openly about management issues and share best practices. The "principals only" rule means that council members cannot send delegates to represent them at meetings. Yao's report advises Bush to reestablish the council and launch it as quickly and as visibly as possible. The report also suggests that Bush recruit deputy secretaries with an interest and experience in management and issue an executive order institutionalizing the council.
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