OMB centralizes control of management issues

The No. 2 official at the Office of Management and Budget is personally involved in nearly every management initiative of the Bush administration, invigorating the President's management agenda but raising questions as to whether OMB has the staff to carry out reforms, according to several public administration experts. Although his position carries numerous budget duties, OMB Deputy Director Sean O'Keefe has become the administration's point man on management, chairing the just-revived President's Management Council and representing the administration on a General Accounting Office panel that is studying federal outsourcing issues. "What's really interesting here is the way that Sean O'Keefe is centralizing management authority around himself," said Paul Light, a scholar at the Brookings Institution. "There's no deputy director for management in sight, and O'Keefe has become the chief hit man for rejecting everything from [a recent] e-government bill to civil service reform, and is clearly the engine behind the outsourcing initiative." O'Keefe and OMB Director Mitch Daniels have taken a greater interest in management issues than their counterparts in previous administrations, according to a veteran of Vice President Al Gore's reinventing government campaign. "What I'm seeing happening at OMB that I think is neat is that the profile of management is increasing and there is a lot more attention being paid to it in this administration in terms of the director and deputy director taking personal leadership on this," said John Kamensky, former deputy director of Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Government and current director of the managing for results practice at the PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment for the Business of Government. O'Keefe and Daniels have assumed more management duties in part because the administration has not chosen a deputy OMB director for management. The absence of a top management official made O'Keefe a natural choice to chair the President's Management Council, according to OMB spokesman Chris Ullman. "We think Sean is the best person [to chair the council] in terms of knowledge and position in the OMB structure in the absence of a deputy director for management," he said. Ullman said the administration has not yet decided whether O'Keefe will remain as chair when a deputy director for management has been chosen. Ullman added the administration is "actively searching" for a top management official. Robert O'Neill, president of the National Academy of Public Administration, is serving as a temporary management counselor to Daniels until Sept. 7. While Light believes a deputy director for management is still necessary, he questioned what duties the position should have in a period of budget surpluses. The top management position was created in a time of large federal deficits to ensure that someone at OMB paid attention to management, Light said. The Bush administration has announced that the management deputy will act as a federal chief information officer. Besides this role, the deputy will provide political leadership on management issues, much like O'Keefe is now doing, said Carl DeMaio, director of government redesign at the Reason Public Policy Institute. "Their job is to provide continuous ongoing leadership for management reform to reflect the management priorities of the administration," said DeMaio. But the lack of a large staff of civil servants focusing on management at OMB will hinder the efforts of O'Keefe and the eventual management czar, Light said. "O'Keefe has almost no staff on which to depend--neither, for that matter, does the deputy director for management," he said. Still, the active presence of O'Keefe and Daniels in management affairs is winning over career officials at OMB, according to Kamensky. "The culture in OMB is you just take direction from the director. I'm hearing a great deal of enthusiasm from OMB career staff about the role they are taking," he said.
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 G Suite

    Cross-Agency Teamwork, Anytime and Anywhere

    Dan McCrae, director of IT service delivery division, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

    Download
  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

    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 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

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.