John Kamensky

Senior Fellow, IBM Center for the Business of Government John M. Kamensky is a Senior Research Fellow for the IBM Center for the Business of Government. He previously served as deputy director of Vice President Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Government, a special assistant at the Office of Management and Budget, and as an assistant director at the Government Accountability Office. He is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and received a Masters in Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin.
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Hard-won Lessons From a Government Reform Pioneer

March 21, 2017 You can’t solve “horizontal” problems with “vertical” solutions, warns University of Maryland professor Don Kettl. That’s something officials in New Zealand learned the hard way. Nearly three decades ago, New Zealand pioneered government reforms to make agencies more accountable and effective. While successful, it exacerbated another challenge facing government agencies—addressing...

Digging Out of the Digital Stone Age

March 9, 2017 About 75 percent of the federal IT budget goes to maintaining outdated legacy computer systems, according to GAO. Some are over 50 years old, yet critical—such as the main IRS tax data base and the nuclear missile launch system. The Government Accountability Office study went on to note: “Agencies reported...

Taking a Targeted Approach to Civil Service Reform

March 2, 2017 For at least three decades, politicians and the public have called for “civil service reform” without a strategic view of what that might look like. Some see it as increasing accountability, others see it as streamlining and empowering employees, while yet others see it as making it easier to fire...

How Trump Could Advance Federal Cybersecurity

February 23, 2017 The data breach at the Office of Personnel Management in the spring of 2015 was breathtaking in scope—nearly 22 million sensitive personnel records stolen. But this wasn’t a new issue. There had been breaches at the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, the IRS, even the National Security Agency. But the...

How Trump Could Advance Federal Cybersecurity

February 22, 2017 The data breach at the Office of Personnel Management in the spring of 2015 was breathtaking in scope—nearly 22 million sensitive personnel records stolen. But this wasn’t a new issue. There had been breaches at the FBI, Department of Homeland Security, the IRS, even the National Security Agency. But the...

When Government Employees Pose a Threat to Security and Safety

February 6, 2017 Who can you trust? The tragic Navy Yard shootings in 2013 crystallized a long-simmering problem for federal leaders—how to proactively manage potential threats from the government’s own employees and contractors. It’s a challenge officials have been grappling with for more than a decade. Legislation adopted in 2004 included requirements to...

How Benchmarking Can Help Agencies Improve Performance and Save Money

December 21, 2016 Publicly comparing similar activities can be a powerful driver for change. That was the premise behind the employee satisfaction surveys across the government in the early 2000s. Initially, these comparisons were only among the 24 major departments and agencies. Today, Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey data are available to line managers...

Growing Government’s ‘Sharing Economy’

December 7, 2016 There has been a lot of breathless excitement about the evolving “sharing economy,” where people can use services provided by others, like Uber and AirBnB . But the sharing movement actually started in the federal government in 1973. That is the year the Agriculture Department launched the National Finance Center,...

Only Long-Term Planning Can Counter Short-Term Thinking

December 2, 2016 In 1996, Congress required the Defense Department to begin conducting quadrennial defense reviews centered on plausible future national security scenarios and to assess the effectiveness of different approaches for addressing those scenarios. These reviews, which project 15 to 20 years into the future, are conducted every four years to inform...

Your Election Day Primer for the Presidential Transition

November 8, 2016 Last March, when President Obama signed the Edward ‘Ted’ Kaufman and Michael Leavitt Presidential Transitions Improvements Act into law, he set in motion a governmentwide effort to transfer power to a new administration long before today’s election. The transition teams empowered by the law are to help both the outgoing...

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