Obama solicits ideas from federal workers for government reform

When President Obama talks about being open to ideas, he's not just talking about those from Congress. In a video message released by the White House yesterday, the president solicited ideas for government reorganization and reform from federal workers themselves.

"We need to reorganize our government so as to best serve the goal of a more competitive America," he said in the message. "We're starting with the areas that handle exports, trade, and business competitiveness. And we need your help."

Reaching out to federal workers to solicit ideas has been part of the administration's strategy in the sweeping reform Obama called for in his State of the Union address. Earlier this month, Federal Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients, who is overseeing the restructuring of 12 federal agencies responsible for trade and export, e-mailed federal workers with a similar request.

The tactic may have arisen out of a desire to maintain good relations with workers after Obama implemented a two-year pay freeze on civilian military and federal employee salaries to help cut spending. By inviting their ideas, the administration acknowledges the challenges they face and asks them to participate in the solution.

And as Zients discussed at a Brookings Institution conference on government reorganization last week, the plans for the restructuring are still in their infancy.

"Every day, you all strive to do your very best work for the American people," Obama told federal employees in his message. "But I know that sometimes, your best efforts are hindered by outdated technology, systems, or programs that don't always work as they should. Your ideas will be a critical part of this effort."

Employees are invited to visit WhiteHouse.gov/FederalVoices to share their ideas. The video and full text of Obama's remarks are below.

Full remarks:

"Hello everybody. I want to take a moment to speak with all of you - our federal employees - about a new effort we're undertaking and how you can get involved.

"As public servants, you help to protect our environment and educate our children. You safeguard our public health, serve our veterans, and keep our nation secure. And as President, I'm grateful to you for your service you provide to our country.

"Every day, you all strive to do your very best work for the American people. But I know that sometimes, your best efforts are hindered by outdated technology, systems, or programs that don't always work as they should. The fact is, even as the world around us has changed, our government has much of the same basic structure as it did half a century ago.

"We all know that America can't win the future with a government of the past. We need a government that's more efficient and effective; that gets rid of waste and better harnesses the technologies that have already transformed our economy.

"That's why we started by going through the budget, line by line, making some difficult cuts - even to worthy programs we'd otherwise support. And we're spending smarter and reducing red tape. Because just as families have to make sacrifices in hard times to make ends meet, the government needs to do the same.

"But this isn't just about cutting costs. It's also about making government work better for the people we serve. And we know there are areas where we have room for improvement. For example, we've got a dozen different agencies dealing with trade and exports, and more than 50 federal programs to help entrepreneurs. Oftentimes, our businesses don't know where to turn. And those are just a couple examples.

"That's why we need to reorganize our government so as to best serve the goal of a more competitive America. We're starting with the areas that handle exports, trade and business competitiveness. And we need your help.

"You know what works and what doesn't. And you know why this is so important. So I'm asking you to go to WhiteHouse.gov/FederalVoices to share your thoughts about this project.

"Your ideas will be a critical part of this effort, and I look forward to hearing from all of you in the days ahead.

"Thanks so much."

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
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)

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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

  • 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.


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