Federal Leaders: Government Needs to Do a Better Job of Self-Promotion

Providing assistance to farmers whose lands were destroyed by floods or tornadoes is “what government service is all about,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. Providing assistance to farmers whose lands were destroyed by floods or tornadoes is “what government service is all about,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said. Kristoffer Tripplaar

One of federal government’s biggest flaws is a failure to market what it does well, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said Monday.

Government’s inability to promote itself and the work it does takes away from its ability to accomplish its mission, Vilsack said at Government Executive’s Excellence in Government conference in Washington, D.C. When the story gets altered, a new narrative is written that paints government as inefficient and federal employees as bad at their jobs, he said.

Providing assistance to farmers whose lands were destroyed by floods or tornadoes is “what government service is all about,” Vilsack said.

“That’s the story,” he told the federal managers in attendance. He added if the managers failed to do their jobs -- to put their staffers in a position to succeed -- “they can’t tell that story, either because they don’t have the tools to do the work, or because another story is being written.”

Beth Cobert, the Office of Management and Budget’s deputy director for management, who also addressed the conference, similarly spoke of the need to engage the public to improve government service. Cobert communicated the cornerstones of President Obama’s recently unveiled management agenda, emphasizing the need to build a “world-class customer service experience” for those who interact with federal employees.

The career private-sector manager said federal agencies will soon turn over more and more of their data and research to the public so non-government entities can create new tools with the information.  The Smithsonian Institution, for example, will release its entire digital art collection so developers can make educational tools, while the Food and Drug Administration will make public its drug safety reports in the hopes dangerous drugs can get pulled off the shelves more quickly.

The ability of government to continue to achieve its mission depends on its people, Cobert said. Success in the future will require an “engaged, well-prepared and well-trained workforce.”

“Despite the challenges of the last few years and the critiques one reads in the press, federal employees continue to persevere and serve the American people with passion, professionalism and skill,” Cobert said.

Vilsack also credited his employees for accomplishing more than ever during a time of crunched budgets, saying the efficiency of his workforce allowed the agency to avoid reductions in force and furloughs during sequestration. The secretary also mentioned negative press, saying he was “a little tired of the constant criticism heaped on government.”

“When there’s a disaster… when there’s a problem who is it we turn to?” Vilsack asked the audience. “The federal government.”

He added, however, success is not “just about getting the job done.”

“It isn’t about avoiding that bad headline,” he said. “It’s about clearing the field so the real story of government service can be told, because it has been far too long since it has been told.”  

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.