Good-government groups urge Bush to focus on management

A group of good-government organizations has suggested to President-elect Bush ways to make federal agencies more accountable under his administration. In a Dec. 20 memorandum to Bush, The Government Performance Coalition, which consists of some of the nation's leading advocates for more effective government, suggested that Bush use the 1993 Government Performance and Results Act and e-government as management tools to hold agencies accountable and to improve customer service. The group also highlighted federal workforce problems, suggesting that Bush invest in career employees. "The career service will give you the loyalty and commitment to your policies to which you are entitled. There are, however, significant workforce problems to be addressed," the memo said. Chief among the workforce problems is a sometimes negative perception of federal workers, a failure to attract the best candidates to federal jobs and insufficient investment in training and development, the memo said. The group also urged the new administration to continue designating deputy secretaries in Cabinet departments as chief operating officers focusing on management issues, much like the current President's Management Council. The Government Performance Coalition includes groups from both sides of the political spectrum, including the liberal Brookings Institution and the conservative Heritage Foundation. But the issue of government management lends itself to political cooperation, the memo said. According to Barry White, director of Government Performance Projects at the Council for Excellence in Government, the group does not advocate specific policy programs or positions, but rather, presents lawmakers and the administration with the tools they can use to formulate an effective government management agenda. "Doing government well is a central issue regardless of the party in power and the majority in Congress. We tried to suggest in the memorandum that there are a few specifics that people can look to that can move them along [in government management], and if nothing else, stimulate the discussion with difference approaches," said White. White said while there has been no response yet from the Bush transition team, he expects to hear back from whomever becomes the point person in the next administration for government performance management. That person will most likely be the next deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget, said White. White said the coalition hopes to submit longer and more comprehensive memos on specific issues, such as civil service reform and e-government, to President-elect Bush and then publish a compilation of those briefs. The group would also like to hold forums to discuss pertinent government management issues. "We want to bring folks together who have an interest in this [government performance management]. In coming together we might get past the impasse of trying to separate program policy from the tools of government implementation," said White.
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