Shelley H. Metzenbaum

Shelley H. Metzenbaum is a senior fellow at the Volcker Alliance. She is former associate director for performance and personnel management at the Office of Management and Budget, where she was responsible for setting and implementing the Obama administration’s approach to improving the performance of federal programs. Follow her on Twitter: @Smetzenbaum
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Memo to the President: Performance Accountability, Evidence and Improvement

January 11, 2017 How will Donald Trump lead the federal government and drive progress on the priorities he set during his campaign, such as good jobs, clean drinking water and well-served veterans? Here’s an idea. As he would with the businesses he oversees, Trump should direct every major department, agency and bureau head...

It’s Time to Cut the Long Lines for Government Services

June 30, 2016 We hate to wait, especially for something we don't want to do, such as get a license at the Department of Motor Vehicles, navigate airport bag-and-body checks, or call the cable company for service. Any form of waiting is irritating, but we seem to reserve a special level of ire...

OPM Could Significantly Improve Hiring, But Will It?

March 28, 2016 Passage of a new law does not guarantee realization of its intent. As Thomas Edison once cautioned, “Vision without execution is hallucination.” Earlier this month, Congress passed the 2015 Competitive Service Act, allowing agencies to hire each others’ eligible job candidates. It is a short law that aims to fix...

Obama’s Final Budget Holds Some Surprising Hidden Pearls

March 3, 2016 Last month, President Obama released his budget request for 2017. Not surprisingly, most media attention went to Congress’s unprecedented decision not to invite the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to testify on the President’s budget, announced even before the White House released the budget. Other stories primarily...

Rethinking Federal Grants Management: From Oversight to Insight

February 3, 2016 Grants are among the most important tools the federal government uses to accomplish its objectives. At $600 billion, they comprise over 15 percent of annual outlays, forty percent higher than federal contract spending. Sadly, the way federal grants are managed gets woefully little attention. To achieve higher returns on the...

New Year’s Resolution: Use Goals and Measurement, But Wisely

January 11, 2016 ’Tis the season for New Year’s Resolutions, when we set goals for ourselves as individuals – what we want to achieve in the coming year. The broad appeal of goal-setting is not surprising. Goals focus and energize us, as I have previously written, especially when they are specific and challenging...

Goal Power: Use It, or It’s Useless

October 29, 2015 Goal power. John F. Kennedy understood the power of a goal when he announced in 1961 the goal of landing a man on the moon in a decade and returning him safely back home, a goal reached eight years later. The world health community understood it when it set the...

Measuring Success: Will It Play in Peoria?

October 1, 2015 Well-designed small-scale testing can help government achieve greater impact not only at a lower cost but also in more fair, understandable ways. Government should embrace “test marketing” as a business-as-usual management practice, not an exceptional event. When I was a kid, for reasons that now escape me, you often heard...

​Without Users, Performance Measurement Is Useless

September 15, 2014 Let’s be honest. A whole lot of people in and around government think performance measurement is an annoyance that needs to get done because it is legally required. Consequently, they measure as minimally as possible to comply. Others think of measurement as a means to motivate by promising reward or...

Why Agencies Need More Flexibility to Retain Retiree Expertise

July 11, 2014 Given the polarization of our nation’s politics, it is sadly rare to find a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers uniting around anything more consequential than renaming a post office. That is why it was great to learn that a group of lawmakers from both parties recently joined together to urge the...

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