The Presidential Seal on a podium in front of the South Portico of the White House.

The Presidential Seal on a podium in front of the South Portico of the White House. Joseph Sohm/

How the Next Administration Can Hit the Ground Running

A focus on management is critical.

On Nov. 8, the President-elect will begin the next phase of the transition to power that culminates with Inauguration Day on Jan. 20, 2017. The next administration will have an opportunity to improve mission performance in ways that can positively impact millions of people across a range of areas, including health care, the environment, and how they receive government benefits. To achieve outcomes quickly and effectively, new leaders will need to understand how to manage complex policies and programs across multiple agencies. Embedding management capacity at the highest levels of government should start during the transition and build through the first days of the administration and beyond. 

To help inform new leaders about the link between management and positive outcomes, the IBM Center for The Business of Government and the Partnership for Public Service collaborated over the past year to develop a Management Roadmap. Released Sept. 13, the Roadmap aims to help the next president implement key policy and program priorities while avoiding obstacles and reducing risk. The Roadmap will help to inform the new administration about critical management issues and actions that can strengthen government’s capacity to address national challenges.

Drawing on lessons learned from previous administrations and original thinking from outside experts, the Roadmap identifies four essential actions to help drive success in delivering government services:

Leverage executive talent. Strong leadership can foster strong performance from government employees and their partners in the private and non-profit sectors, but progress depends on aligning the efforts of new political appointees and career government leaders. Creating a cadre of career and political leaders in key program areas can help drive mission accomplishment. Specifically:

  • Designate a team of key management leaders working on the transition for the White House, OMB, and other central management agencies. The team should develop early management capacity and create an initial set of management initiatives.
  • Ensure that top appointees build joint political-career leadership teams, where each leader shares ownership in the success of key goals.

Manage government as an integrated enterprise. Americans experience government in ways that cross agency boundaries, whether they operate small businesses, apply for services, or work with law enforcement or homeland security in responding to threats. Agencies can collaborate to integrate service delivery and reduce bureaucracy.  Specifically:

  • Establish transition teams focused on cross-cutting issues, whose members align with policy, agency, and appointments teams.
  • Designate a senior White House official to drive mission-oriented cross-agency initiatives, working with OMB and the President’s Management Council on mission-support activities.

Build sustained innovation across agencies. Governments around the world have made great strides in leveraging private sector expertise and commercial best practices, such as using agile techniques to streamline acquisition and information technology. The next administration can build on this progress to integrate and embed innovation into agency activities that generate order of magnitude improvements in productivity. Specifically:

  • Include technologists and data scientists on transition teams.
  • Designate a White House champion for integrating innovation across agencies, including a focus on improved customer experience via citizen-centered design and active response to citizen feedback.

Strengthen decision making to achieve results. During the transition and into the first months in office, new leaders must sift through a vast amount of data and options in order to make effective choices. These leaders can leverage analytics, risk management, and other tools to make informed decisions that improve mission outcomes in alignment with near term opportunities.  Specifically:

  • Draft plans for the administration’s budget proposal in March.
  • Develop a shared governance framework for decisionmaking across the president’s leadership team, based on sound data and evidence on the progress of strategic priorities.

The Roadmap was developed following a set of Roundtable discussions with a broad cross-section of current and former government leaders and stakeholders, drawing on a series of reports that described key findings and recommendations that arose from those discussions.

Image via Joseph Sohm/