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Governance Challenges and the Future of a New Public Service

Governance Challenges and the Future of a New Public Service


– This is a partnership with the National Academy of
Public Administration. This is our Tanner Day. And what we’re focused on today is the future of citizenship
and public service. We had a wonderful
presentation this morning from the honorable Governor
Christie Todd Whitman, the former governor of New Jersey who shared with us her
thoughts and perspectives on the future of public service and some of the challenges in citizenship confronting our nation today. And she gave some great insight into how we might think about moving forward, especially within our
individual communities. After that session, we
had the great privilege of hearing from four
different individuals. Dave Sulek of Booz Allen, Professor Andrew Cohen from
the history department, Andy Maxwell from the city of Syracuse, and Professor Tina Nabatchi talking about what the
public service workforce of the future looks like. It is now my great pleasure
to welcome you to our noontime panel. And starting on my immediate left, let me introduce Dustin Brown from the Office of Management and Budget. Terri Gerton, the President
of the National Academy of Public Administration. Sean O’Keefe, Professor in the Department of Public Administration
and International Affairs, and Governor Whitman. And we’re gonna begin today by really looking at this issue of thinking about the challenges in the
future of public service, but particularly through
the lens of governance and how some of the things that we heard in the morning sessions, how that might be impacting
us as we move forward. I’ll serve as time keeper and moderator, and I’m David Van Slyke, and it’s my great honor to be the Dean of the Maxwell School. So let me begin with a question for each of you. We hear oftentimes the word
government and governance used interchangeably. Sometimes we hear this idea of governance talked about as a, a system of government where institutions function according to democratic processes and norms both internally and in their interaction with other institutions. Those terms can get us
really hung up, though. We, you know, we hear
people throw them around quite casually and then when we talk to the average
person in the public, they say, “Well, what’s the difference? “What does this mean?” So maybe we can start, Dustin, with you in very practical terms, why are we, why have we moved to this of talking about everything
that government does through a lens of governance? – Right, well, first of all, it’s great to be here,
thanks for having me back. It’s always great to get back to Syracuse and the Maxwell School. I remember my time here very fondly and so it’s great to be able
to reconnect with everyone. So, you know, in my role at OMB, I
view a big part of my job as trying to influence
leadership behaviors and activities across
the most senior levels in government. Whether that’s our 3,000
political appointees, or 7,000 career SES. A lot of our focus is on
that role of leadership and I really think those things are intertwined in terms of
governance and leadership. And a lot of it comes back from our perspective on what are the problems that
leaders are focused on in trying to solve? Because that really does orient the organization’s behaviors. And I just think in
Washington, in particular, we see a lot of senior leaders focus most of their time and attention on kind of the urgent. That’s primarily around
communications, budget, legislation, policy. And I think if you look at you know, high performing organizations as a general rule and the
private sector or elsewhere, they are focused a lot
more on bottomline results and implementation. And I think one of the
gaps that I’ve certainly been dedicated to trying to close is how do we get more senior leadership time and attention focused on really on improving those outcomes that citizens expect of their government? And moving kind of more and more of leadership focus on those types of issues, not just kind of the firefighting or the day to day kind of urgent items that
take up most of our time. So, we’ve been focused on building out kind of a performance framework and a management framework that tries to incentivize kind of proven leadership techniques. And I think if we do that well, we have a chance at improving kind of the governance and systems
that our institutions rely on to make decisions, to solve problems that ultimately lined up yielding better performance
for taxpayer dollars. – [Dave] Great, thanks so much. Terri? – Well the question of
government and governance I think actually runs
through the academy’s history and fellows have been
on one side or the other about whether the National Academy of Public Administration
should be working on government or governance. And I think of them sort of as two sides of the same coin. Government is the institutions and governance is the rules by which those institutions work. And I think where we struggle is that the rules of the game are
getting more and more complex. The situations that our
government has to deal with are more and more complex. To the point where there’s
not a single problem that the government faces that could be solved by a single agency. All of our solutions
have to be co-produced. So we need leaders, and we need rules that facilitate that co-production across agencies. We also need all of the
different levels of government. The federal government
can’t solve any problem all by itself, it can sort of set common conditions, but it relies on its partners
at the state and local level to be able to actually
deliver the solution down to the citizen. So we not only have to span sort of horizontal agency boundaries, but we have to span vertical
layers of government. And then the government itself, at all of those levels, really doesn’t have the total capacity to deliver the solution. So we have state partners and
we have non state partners. We have the private sector and nonprofits, as we just talked about before. So the governance process that now has to span
horizontally, vertically, and maybe diagonally so we get all of our dimensions in there is just much more complex. So to be able to be effective, we have to have a government system, a governance system that addresses all of those
and sets the capacity, creates the capacity
for us to be successful in service delivery. – [Dave] Great, thanks so much. Sean? – Not very much of exactly
the same definition. I think that Terri just offered that there is a huge distinction, and it often gets confused
if you’re not careful, that governance really is very much about the oversight of the process, as well as
how the policy is organized for the purpose of consideration in that oversight process, and however it’s approved. And government is the institution by which it is delivered. And the constant challenge,
it always occurs on, I think most dominantly, on the governance end of the equation. Just to build on what Terri’s, I think very astute observation’s yielded that when there’s a confusion between who’s responsible for actually serving up the policy proposal, the very proposition of where you’re going was the CEO of a company, or the secretary of a department, or you know, the
administrator of an agency, or any other function that may be required from a leadership standpoint to frame what is the policy
objective you’re after. And then those who are in the position of trying to oversee that, to determine its efficacy not only as a policy, but in terms of also how well it’s implemented, how effectively it’s implemented, of looking at that overall government and institutional frame
of how that’s delivered. I think that’s, that’s typically where
the greatest challenges come to bear is a confusion over whose role is what. And sometimes there’s a
propensity on one side or the other to try to
subsume the responsibilities of the other. And that’s, that’s where
the greatest tensions I think occur. The function, the issue
of how government then as an institution delivers
on those policy choices is also an oversight function, but it is one that says nothing about exactly how, what other institutional
frameworks you would employ to actually deliver on those. Be it a public institution, a private organization, a nonprofit, any other NGO relationship that you may define. Those are all methods and means by which that can be carried out. And its efficiency, effectiveness, and utility is what that
governance structure is there to evaluate. So I think that’s a very crisp determination and difference between those two fields. – [Dave] Great. Thanks so much. Governor? – Well I would agree with that assessment. Governance is leadership, to me. Governance is leadership, government is the structure
that allows you to deliver. And I would also start… – If you could turn your mic please. – He turned it on. (laughs) – Oh it is. – It’s green. (laughs) – There ya go. – That’s on. I didn’t change anything, it was green. (laughs) – [Sean] I saw, she’s right. – Governance is leadership. And government is the structure
that allows you to deliver that leadership. When you’re talking about it from the perspective that we’re using today. I would also say that as you look at the problems which, you know, it’s great to think that we live in the most complicated time, I would venture to say that probably back in the 1700s, they thought
it was pretty complicated then too, and certainly during the Civil War we were facing bigger problems. At least we haven’t had any senator bash another over the head yet on the floor of the senate, but that’s a possibility these days. Hasn’t just hasn’t happened yet. But I would also look at it, as we try to analyze it, not from the top down as much as Terri, you were sort of
saying, but implying, but from the bottom up. Because frankly, it is
at the most local level that you’ve gotta deliver. Mayors and city councils
have gotta deliver. And I’ve always maintained, you always only have 24 hours in a day. I don’t care who you are. And for a mayor or for
a local council person, everybody knows your telephone number, and they expect you to answer
that phone when they call, and their garbage wasn’t
collected at 10:30 and it’s supposed to have been, it wasn’t collected til 11, it was supposed to been
collected at 10:30, they expect you to do something about it. And the higher you go up in terms of the number
of people you represent, the less they reach out directly, but they still reach out directly, and your responsibility is if you’re in the executive branch, is actually to deliver. And you expect the government that’s serving under you, the structure that’s under you to be able to help you to deliver that. Your responsibility to my mind is to set the overall goals. To set what needs to be accomplished. To ensure that the government structure has the resources that it needs to be able to deliver those goals, to those goals. Whether it is fiscal, and we’ll argue with
OMB over what really is the priority for an agency, or whether it’s the manpower, or whether it’s the knowledge. And we’re in a very, in a state of flux right now as to the type of knowledge that we need ’cause
there’s so much out there. And not all of it is relevant, but there’s a lot that’s clouding up people’s ability to sort through that. And that’s where the
leadership and the governance really comes in. That has to be there. ‘Cause the government structure, the government cannot function on its own without the governance. – So the President of NAPA teased me that I created
a series of questions that felt like defending
ones Masters thesis. So here comes the second thesis question. (laughs) So some commentators suggest that governance challenges relate to efforts to
improve credible commitments to shared responsibility to address difficult problems. And sometimes that can involve increasing the amount and
diversity of public participation, it can be efforts to promote transparency, or it can take the form of developing new
processes and mechanisms for how organizations work together to solve complex problems. Sometimes that can happen
through technology, as we heard from Mr.
Sulek in our last session about machine intelligence, artificial and automated learning. So I’d love to hear your thoughts on what do you see as the
governance challenges facing the United States that should be our highest priorities? And what do you think the implications are for how the public service might respond given that we talked about public service in the morning sessions quite broadly. – So, sure. I’d pick up on some of the comments, in particular, Terri’s around the
horizontal and the vertical. I think that’s a really helpful framing and I think we do have a horizontal challenge in that we have horizontal problems and vertical organizations and we have very few people whose job it is to actually
rationalize that system. We have, you know, 84 homeless programs, we’ve got, you know, dozens
of job training programs, and nobody really is accountable everyday for waking up, kind of thinking about how these
programs could better work together to solve a problem. So I’ve, I think that’s a, a classic one that has gotten actually worked over time as you have, kind of increasing numbers of programs kind of trying to do similar things. And then the second is vertical. I mean, the fact that we have I think at one point, somebody counted 17 management layers between the Secretary of VA and a nurse in a VA hospital. That is a major vertical challenge in the kind of size and complexity that is the federal government. So, when I look at the
things I’ve seen work really well in government, I associate myself with the
comments in the earlier panel about we need to do a better job telling our story about
where we are successful. One of my favorites is
around veterans homelessness and some of the work
that has been done there. Early on in the last administration, the Secretary of VA set a goal to end veterans homelessness. Now that’s a great thing to say but how are you gonna get it done, right? What are you gonna get
done in the next two years? What are you gonna get
done every three months? And do you have a framework
that actually brings all the right people to
the table to do that? And do you even have a definition and a measurement system? VA was measuring homeless
veterans one way, HUD was measuring it a different way. So they actually had to first reach agreement
on what the baseline is that we’re gonna use, right? Then the leaders from both organizations, to pick up on the leadership point again, really made a commitment. You know, on a very regular monthly basis, we’re gonna meet with our teams to understand who’s doing
this well, who’s not, and how we spread the
adoption of practices and evidence-based interventions like Housing First that
actually have shown to make a difference on this problem. And one of the great anecdotes
that came out of this work that the HUD and VA
teams really were doing, and they were engaged at
the local level as well who were all kind of integrated into these kind of stacked sessions using data, is they found certain
cities were falling behind. Houston, in particular was. And the reaction from
kind of the career ranks was well, we give out the grants. You know, we don’t really
have a way of influencing how Houston spends the funds. And the leadership, they were
sitting around the table. Secretary Donovan and
Deputy Secretary Gould said, “Why don’t we jointly
write a letter to the mayor “showing and telling him
that he’s falling behind “and here’s why and we’d love to help.” And they did that, the mayor set a goal to house a hundred homeless veterans within a hundred days and put in place
strategies that were based on some of the latest evidence. And Houston, a few years ago reported they functionally have ended veteran’s homelessness
in the city of Houston as a result of all of these things finally
like coming together and building on a lot
of extraordinary work. So I do think it’s possible, and I have lots of other kind of great examples of
where government has worked along these lines to
really make a difference. But it does take process, and it takes focus on implementation, leadership, data, all kind of coming together to really see the kinda gains I think we all would expect. – [Dave] Governor? – Well I would almost argue
the leadership part of that is absolutely true. You gotta break down the silos. That’s been one of the biggest obstacles to problem solving in
the government structure. And that takes the governance,
the leadership to say we’ve gotta understand that what one part of the government does affects the other part. I mean, we had it at EPA certainly, between water and air, and I like to mix those up. I wanted someone who
was an expert in water to head the air division and vice versa because I wanted them to understand what’s in the air comes up down here and it ends up in our water. And for the water people to understand they’ve gotta care about
what our emissions are like. And that takes, it takes followup. It takes more than just a sitting down at the very beginning. We did this in New Jersey, there is an organization that has a governor’s leadership puts on a program for government,
new governors coming in, and it’s about, you have to bring the
whole cabinet together and sit down together to talk about how you wanna relate with one another. But if you don’t have the
follow-through on that, it all breaks down. Because it takes it in order to, it’s gonna be a partnership
at the end of the day. And partnership with the different levels of government. But if you haven’t set up the structure that has blown away a lot of the, those lines that prevent people from talking to one another, or learning the same language, and starting to appreciate
what the other side does, you’re just not going to succeed. And we’ve seen examples of it after 9/11, when we were doing air quality monitoring and putting it, trying to put it out to the public we realized that the city
was doing monitoring, there was a hospital doing monitoring, there was a university, and everybody was monitoring for slightly different things. Well to pull that all
out to the public was, didn’t give them anything. I mean, that didn’t mean anything, it was all gobbledygook to them. So it took us ten days, but we finally got to a point where we had real time data that was harmonized. And that took working with
all the different sections to say, “Okay, what’s our terminology? “What are you really measuring for?” And getting it all in the same place so people had apples to apples to compare so they’d have, it
meant something to them. But too often we get caught up with our acronyms and our way of doing things and we forget that the average person hasn’t a clue. It’s not the most important
thing in their life, it’s not what they
spend their lives doing. So really, we’ve gotta
concentrate on that, start with, I believe, the leadership. It’s going to break down the silos. And follow up. Not just a one time, let’s get together, hold hands, and we’ll
make everything better. But understand that we gotta drive that home everyday
and have accountability that goes along with it, because accountability does become the final arbitral of whether or not you’ve been successful. – [Dave] Terri? – Well, I wanna go back
to the co-production of solutions here. The Academy’s released
two reports this year. One is No Time to Wait:
Building a Public Service for the 21st Century, and the other is an anthology of essays on building a senior executive service for the 21st century, and this co-production theme runs through the whole, the whole suite of the analysis, that these problems are
getting harder and harder and that the difficulty, the complexity is magnified by our 24-7 media cycle. So it’s almost always a crisis and we need leaders who can
solve the problems across the spectrum. But I’m also struck by Tina’s comments when she kicked off her panel. And she ran through a long list of characteristics that the modern public servant leader needs to have and I think we have to acknowledge that people aren’t just
born that way, right? That sort of, it’s a
happy accident these days when we have a leader in public service who actually has the
facility and the capacity to work across all of these domains. And even the best training programs for Masters graduates don’t graduate somebody who has the full sweep. And so what we’re missing, I think, is a commitment to lifelong
learning and training of our public service leaders. I mean, I’m a product of the military officer training system, it’s not perfect, but
I went to supply school before I became a supply officer. I went to the company commanders course before I became a company commander. You know, there’s a
sequential anticipation of training requirements and we don’t have anything like
that in the public service, where either an individual could opt onto a leadership tract, or could be nominated for a leadership tract. And at every level, they get training on project management, on IT management, on financial management, on the current leadership theories so that as they assume more and more senior positions, they’re prepared and trained, and we’re not surprised
that they’re successful. Because I think that’s
sort of where we are now, where it’s just good luck that you find a good leader. As opposed to intentionally
training people. And I think if we had that, it would also help us with
recruitment and retention where people could see that there’s a leadership track. Not everybody has to want to be on it, but for those who do, that there’s an intentional investment in success and leadership
across the lifetime so that we build leaders who
can co-produce solutions, not just across the federal level, but even rotationally back and forth between federal, state, and local. – Thanks so much, Sean? – One of the challenges
of being a cleanup on this is being to describe this as yes, I can curry everything
that’s been said, but just not everybody’s said it. I don’t wanna go there. Instead, let me take a
slight different bent to this that’s embedded into your question was part of the phraseology of shared responsibility. This was an interesting, you know, we just gonna talk about that and moved right through it, but it is a big piece of this equation. Because in so many ways, culturally, we spent the last generation or so debating the question of citizen rights. And there’s another
part that goes with that dealing with citizen responsibilities. And part of that is who is engaged to be part of that governance structure? And within the government entities to carry that out that in turn, really reminds, you know, nobody, everybody was in that cohort, but also broader citizen engagement, that yes, there are rights, these are the ones that
oughta be protected, these are the aspects we really need to work our way through, but also there are certain
responsibilities we have to engage. And I think Governor Whitman’s comments earlier this morning really were just, this is a stark picture of a level of real engagement that as citizens, we have in this process. Relative to many other
democracies around the world. We’ve got a long way to go, we’ve still got more to come. And maybe the upside of what we’re seeing in the present environment is one in which there is now an uptick in the overall citizen engagement. These folks are hearing, “That’s not right. “I don’t like that view. “Or I do like that view “and I wanna see it further perpetuated.” But, the other part of the question I think was posed here most succinctly, Dave, was a question of exactly what are those governance
challenges going forward? And I think if, in addition to the systemic issues, I think has been discussed here
by colleagues on the panel, I think the two areas that will dominate any level of service delivery, policy development, and whatever, regardless of whether it is local in its orientation, or national its focus, or international it’s context are two areas that really do have the most amount of coverage in every area is going to be just the emerging issues
we see in globalization, as well as the continuing security and redefining of security challenges. First one, I think is, has been talked about endlessly in lots of different settings, but there are enormous implications to economic structures, to tax based, to trade, to all manner of things, as a consequence of the workforce issues, displacements in economic, you know, displacements as well as every other workforce displacement, the globalization challenge is posed. And the second area of security, we’re seeing that evolving
in a dramatic way, certainly in the last 20 years in terms of how that’s definable today, rather than as state actors looking at
the wide range of threats that can be more defined, not just as national security, but homeland security, law enforcement, the whole range of issues
that we’re reminded of daily of exactly what this requires. And that’s where the responsibility part comes back in again. And I think it’s one that really does focus on, we’ve gotta look at what those, how we can help connect those, those various elements that are just seemingly disparate and connect them to those
broader governance challenges to drive home that larger message. – That’s a great segue to
my next question for you. One of the things that many say confronting both the United States and the broader world are the challenges in human security. And yet, as a term it’s a broad and expansive term, but it can mean a lot of
things to a lot of people. It often can mean economic security, health security, it can mean environmental security, water and food security, political security, community security, then there’s the whole issue that you just addressed. National and homeland security, and increasingly, cyber security. The challenge with security, however we define it, but let’s just use kind
of a broad, expansive term like human security, is that it absolutely
requires co-production as Terri was saying
about other policy areas. And yet, there are strong incentives against engagement by some of the actors who
have the best technology, the greatest expertise, and the logistics on coordination. If Equifax had not had the size of the breach that it did, we would not have heard
about the Equifax breach. Every single day there’s
a cyber intrusion. Every day someone is affected. But they’re not hundreds of
millions of people affected. And yet, for us to solve some
of these governance challenges requires working with others. So my hard question to you is we can talk about this in terms of, using terms like it’s
important to collaborate. But how do you actually
operationalize that? How do you actually bring
parties to the table? Especially parties that maybe don’t have strong incentives to collaborate, or at least, not with government. And even civil society, where there are nonprofit organizations that say, “I’m very concerned about water security, “but air and the quality of air “has very little bearing
on my day to day life. “I’m really about clean streams.” How do we do that? Governor, I know that you need to leave very soon for your plane so why don’t you go first on this? – Well again, it comes back to leadership. It comes back to how
you frame those issues and make it, make it mean something
to the average person. To make it relevant to them as to why they should care. And relevant to the people in your organization. I mean, the best definition of leadership was Dwight Eisenhower’s which is it’s getting people to do
what you want them to do because they want to do it. Because of all that it implies behind it. It means you’ve gotta
understand why it’s important to do what you’re doing and why, therefore, it
should be important to them. And if you can’t articulate that, if you don’t understand yourself why this thing is important to accomplish, or this goal is important to accomplish, it’s very hard to bring
anyone else to the table to do that with you. And you’ve got to be able to do that. You’ve gotta be able to get other people to understand it’s in their best interest. And that they want to participate in this because that gives ’em a voice in the outcome. And how it is gonna be handled. Because everybody has a very different perception of how much
they’re willing to give up for instance, in their privacy in order to you know, be part of today’s economy. And what do we allow, we like to be able to
interact with everybody, but I don’t really like the idea of being followed everywhere. And I know perfectly well with my iPhone, I’m being followed. I mean, I could be followed anywhere. You mentioned Equifax but, look at Yahoo. And the thing about the
Yahoo breach is they, and the same with Equifax, they’d known for a period of time. And I love the fact that
Yahoo now gets out there and says, “Well change your password.” You wanna say, “This has been going on for six months, “I haven’t changed my password “because you didn’t tell me
I had to change my password.” I mean, not that I could
remember a password if i had to change it
every five minutes anyway. But that’s another problem. I mean, that really is
a problem for people. They won’t change their
password every five minutes, ’cause what do you… Do you write it down on a piece of paper where someone might find it? Do you put it under some
kind of sneaky title in your address book? In order to get people to to participate and be
willing to take the time, first of all, we have to figure out how do we make it as easy
for them as possible? But we make it as clear to them as to why it’s in their best interest to support this kind of an effort. And if you can’t convince them of that, then you’ve lost at the very beginning. – [Dave] Dustin? – Well, the thing I think we found that has worked well is absolutely the leadership point, but you gotta also make it somebody’s job to be responsible for the overall problem and coordination. I don’t know how many different
inter-agency meetings, and task forces, I think HSS once developed
a list of every single inter-agency task force or working group that they were on and it went for page after page after page. And these are groups that, you know, traditionally meet every quarter or you know, every six months, or you know, something
of that sort of cadence, and there’s always a lot of great discussion and dialogue about
all these great opportunities that we could do more with less and make more progress if we only work together, and they all go back to their day jobs, right? And you know, that
conversation just happens at such a level of infrequency you never really never see as much gains from it as you would want. So, one of the things
that I’ve really focused on over the last four or
five years, in particular is getting people and resources that can be dedicated to funding and cross cutting solutions. So I worked with Congress
about three years ago to establish a new 15 million dollar cross-agency goal fund that the OMB director can control to actually give resources to agencies explicitly for cross cutting opportunities that can’t be funded in any one individual agency’s budgets and that’s not new appropriations, we have to pass the hat around
to all the different agencies to contribute into it, but still, that’s a resource
that actually kind of puts our money where our mouth is, so to speak. And one example of something
we’re funding out of that, is work that was started
in the last administration that is actually continuing on, we’re using the same framework
in this administration to overhaul the infrastructure
permitting process. This is something that has received pretty bipartisan support in terms of 30 different federal agencies have responsibilities, the timelines can vary dramatically for dams, bridges, roads. And nobody really has
ever been responsible for the end to end process before. And so it’s been very frustrating
to project proponents, frustrating to agencies as well. And state and local governments to not have better visibility. So we now have a statutory framework that
we worked with Congress, Senator Portman, in particular on, that got bipartisan praise, not just from the Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, but Natural Resources
Defense Council came out in support of it as well because we did work kind of across all different stakeholders, and CEQ, and NEC internally
within the administration to put in place more transparency into place. And we now have a 10 person team and Congress funds it. That’ll be ramping up even more whose full-time job is to basically unlock barriers that
exist between agencies, not just in Washington, but actually going out into the field and having an escalation path to resolve inter-agency
disputes and issues and look for increased
coordination up front that we’re already seeing some signs, is producing major savings. That small, you know, few hundred thousand dollar investment in standing up that central team already had produced a gain of a 300 million dollar financing and a benefit to one individual project by accelerating the
timeline through greater up front coordination. So, these stories are, are there. It’s possible to do it with the right vision, with the right focus. We like, do a really good job at keeping these success
stories quiet, I found in the federal government, and make sure that the failures are publicized on the front page. But, I do think there is a lot of momentum building around some of these. There’s still seeds that are starting to kind
of shoot through the ground and are gonna take some
kind of care and feeding to continue to see them grow. But I think there is a
model that’s in place at the hill, and agencies, and outside stakeholders are starting to kind of understand is possible. But it does take really persistent, consistent kind of focus to really make sure you
see it all the way through. – [Dave] Governor? – I just wanted to second that how important it is to
have one person as the vernacular goes, who has the buffalo chip for ensuring something happens. But I would also say, the other part of that
that’s very important is you gotta have a very
clear understanding of where you’re starting. In order to know why you
wanna go where you’re going. When I got to the Environmental
Protection Agency, in which something we’d done
in the state of New Jersey is what was the state of the environment? How much do we still have to clean up? What had actually gone on before? There was no such report card, there never had been. No one had ever looked at
the status of our waters, at the status of our air, of the brownfield sites, or superfund cleanup, and you’ve got to establish that base. And then you have somebody
who is responsible for breaking down, because certainly, within
the federal government, and to a lesser, but still
there in state government, are those barriers that
actually prevent agencies from talking to one another, and sharing data, and collaborating in a way
that they would like to do to get a job done because most civil servants are there to, there to get their job done and they would do it any which
way you want them to do it as long as they think
that’s what you wanna do and they understand it. But it’s really important
to have that person who is gonna follow up and say, “Okay, this is the goal we set, “have we done it? “Have we measured it? “Did we know where we started from?” ‘Cause you can’t know if you’ve gotten there or not if you don’t know where you start from. And so many times, we just pick
a great idea out of the air and try to run with it without really knowing is
this the right one to do? Is this based on facts
that we have determined on previous analysis
of a particular issue? And is this the way to approach it? We’ve gotta form that base, start with that base, and then have the person
whose in charge of seeing it through to the end. – [Dave] Governor, thanks
so much for those comments. And thanks for the
extra benefit of staying through our morning, and not only joining us last night, but staying through for the panel today. Thanks very much. – Well the panel was fascinating. And thank you very much
for having me invited. Having invited me. (audience applause) – It was good to see ya, nice to see ya. – Thank you, Governor. Sean, your perspective? – I think your elegant term human security is really a neat, all encompassing descriptor of what we’re
talking about here. I mean, some of the challenges
of trying to work through that full range of what is, when you think about it, whether it’s national security, or it’s you know, homeland security, whether it’s law enforcement, whether it’s you know, cyber security, whatever it is, it is the classic
definition of a public good. It’s the only aspect that does in deed provide at some level security for the citizenry and it doesn’t preclude anyone from benefiting by that
particular advantage. And so, as a consequence, how you actually deliver on that almost calls from an imperative that there be a collaborative model. Because you’re looking for
the greatest expertise, the best focus, you know, whatever. You know, however you
wanna define the elements of, as Governor Whitman said, how do you define success? What does it, you know when you’re trying to achieve and what is the state of
where you are right now? That’s what you have to begin with and ultimately, come to closure on what
is the best and most efficacious way to accomplish that task? And that opens up a wide
range of opportunities when viewed that way. The issue of whether or not it is a inherently governmental function, you know, it almost becomes irrelevant. The citizenry is sitting back saying I wanna be sure that that coverage is as good as I can hope for. And as a result, that’s the responsibility that the public service has to figure out exactly how do you deliver on
that particular objective? And do it in a way that pulls together the very most effective ways across the board. Those are two very
different kinds of functions and two very different kind
of challenges to look at that call for the level I think of just public management expertise and we’ve been debating here
the course of the morning. – So, Terri, before we go to the
audience for questions, how can the National Academy help? I mean, there are 850
fellows of the Academy. They come from all across the U.S., in some cases, across the world. They are individuals who have spent their entire careers in the public sector, individuals who have never spent any time in the public sector, as a, you know, quote unquote, the debate we had this morning, a government paid worker. But they, perhaps, as Dave Sulek has worked entirely with federal agencies. Where does the National
Academy come in here? And how can it help to move forward, not just talk about governance challenges but action? – Well I think one of the things we try to do is model this culture
of inclusivity, right? If you’re going to get
a co-produced solution, you’ve gotta get all, or at least as many players as you can to the table. And that means you have to have leaders who understand who should be at the table. Right? So that when you’re talking about, as an example, a veterans issue, you don’t just start with DOD and VA, but you understand that
if you’re talking about veterans homelessness or employment, you need Labor, you need the SBA, you need the Department of Education, you need HUD, you probably need HHS, you need everybody. And so, one of the things we try to do is we’re tackling these studies is to make sure that the panels are inclusive. That we have academic… Folks from academia, that
we have practitioners at the federal level, that we include state
and local practitioners that as we do this study, we’re reaching out to the private sector to understand what they see from, perhaps the outside, or maybe the side by side. That we talk to constituents
and stakeholders to understand how the problem feels from their perspective, and then we try to look at the total inter-governmental system to make sure that we can
identify where the glitches are and what the solution sets look like because the glitch may appear at the local level but can
be fixed at the federal level or vice versa, so you really have to take a systems thinking approach to this, you have to take an
inclusive, big tent approach to these challenges and make sure that you’re really always asking what else can we learn? What else can we learn? Who else needs to be here? Who else do we need to talk to? – Can I just build on that real quick? One of the things I’ve observed about a lot of kind of these government wide efforts, which I am guilty of several
times in my career as well, is that you have solutions
in search of problems. You know, we have an idea that boy, if only we could get this adopted life will be better, right? I did this focus on reducing the amount
of time it takes to hire. Seems like a great goal, right? Everyone can get around kind of reducing it from whatever, 150 days what it was at point. We have been able to reduce it some but, to be honest, people’s satisfaction
with the hiring process is as low today as ever. It sits right now of 22 different mission support services like IT and procurement, we’ve looked as rated the most important and the least satisfaction, right? That is not the quadrant you wanna be in. And despite, kind of all this efforts to try to re-engineer
it and streamline it, it actually hasn’t helped managers get the quality of
people they want, right? And so we need to kind of I think be a little bit introspective here too about how we set up the framework, the goals, the incentives, and whether or not that really is driving the right kind of behaviors across you know, your rank and file and you know, are they really accountable for the outcome or for complying with mandates that may or may not actually get you to the goal. So, I think as we’ve been trying to craft a President’s management agenda, which will be released in February, we’ve been really thoughtful
about how we set those goals in a way that drive the right incentives. – Great, Sean? – Yeah, very commonly, I think in any level of government, one of the curses that
each public organization inevitably deals with is what I would otherwise call, you know, the tyranny of stool
pipes of excellence, okay? Here you got everybody, this is my field, this is what I do, and that’s it, I’m the
only one that does it. Or, if there’s any need for that, you have to come talk to me. What? That’s more just territorial. And it’s more human nature to do that. But in a larger sense, what the real challenge
that public service demands and public engagement demands is that there are folks who are constantly looking past that, and that’s clearly what you’re
spending a lot of your time doing, Dustin, and that’s, that’s outstanding, and that’s exactly what I think the National Academy is
trying to help facilitate. So you get, you got exactly the right combination of expertise to do that. – We have about 30 minutes for questions. There are two microphones on
the left and the right sides, so if you would just raise your
hand and identify yourself. I think we have two right over here to begin with. – I’m Harry Lambright. I work for the Maxwell School. Since we have OMB here, and NASA, and the National Academy, I’d like to ask this question. I think I heard recently the Secretary of Defense or someone else like that who is in a high level national security position, he was asked what kept him up at night. And instead of talking about North Korea, he said what kept him up at night, would worry him the most, and it was in terms of good governance was the inability of
the federal government to get budgets on time. Life with continuing resolutions, life where you don’t know
if you’re going to have a budget in a given fiscal year kept him up at night. From a standpoint of public administration and running government decently, how, and if this is the world we’re gonna be living in for at least the rest of the Trump years, what do we do about this? – So I used to say that boy, if only we could have a set of management routines and process that work as well as the budget process, we would be in good shape. (laughs) I’m not sure that’s the
right metric anymore. Or measure of success. Because I think as you know, the history of management kind of reforms changes every four to eight years, and I think has been a real kind of challenge as well. I think we finally have overcome that and that this is the first time an administration has used
the previous administration’s management framework, which is rooted in statue with the GRPA Modernization Act of 2010. So we now have some continuity
on the management side. I know that’s not answering your question. On the budget front, you know, I think it’s gonna require a lot more collaboration between the executive and legislative branch. I would argue that’s you know, a question for
the legislative branch much more so than the executive branch. Not to say that, you know, there isn’t obviously a role for both, but, you know, our responsibility is to produce a budget, and then Congress’s
responsibility is to enact it by September 30th, and I think most people in the room know how often we’ve gotten a budget on September 30th in the last 30 years. So, hopefully, we can move past that. Things like bi-annual budgeting, and other things I think are intriguing. I do some kind of work internationally with OECD countries and things like that. Though I’m not speaking for like, the administration’s position on that, I will say that most other countries have multi-year budgeting. I know that does help provide them a little more predictability and continuity. That is, we are pretty unique in having annual budgeting. – I can’t, I can’t give you any more
detail on the budget process than obviously someone from OMB, but I think the aspect of the budget that worries me is the demographics. And the fact that we as a government are not building our budgets based on demographic reality is actually frightening to me. As we have a declining population, a lower tax base, in the future at every level and yet, at a greater demand for our entitlement program, we do not have the political will to execute budgets that reflect that coming reality. So, as problematic as
it is on an annual basis not to start the year
with an appropriation, I’m worried much more about the long-term and the sustainability
of our fiscal system. – I guess there are two primary factors that have been enduring challenges in dealing with this very question going forward. The first one is I think it is fundamentally a whole range of process that were organized at varying intervals in, doesn’t matter, you know, federal, state, local, histories of how budgets are
developed and formulated, and so forth, that over the course of time, have become the purpose rather than the budget yield of what you
were intending to do. You were trying to make it a reflection of the mechanism to actually
fulfill and finance, resource the policy you
just got done articulating. No. Instead, it’s become the process is all important. And you can recognize that
when you’ve got an organization and everybody kinda forgets the idea of what you were after, but everybody knows what the
mechanics and the process are. And by the time you get done with it, no longer serves the decision making. It becomes a means unto itself. I mean, the Department of Defense is the paragon of this, okay? It’s all about the programming phase, the budgeting phase, et cetera, and everything else is
just a big collection of desirements. That every element
within that organization wanted to pile on. And it then becomes
incumbent upon the leadership to pick and choose among
very limited choices over how you wanna go do that. And how do you wanna
organize something that is you know, fiscally responsible, and all the other objectives
you’re trying to match. It doesn’t serve the purpose anymore and it’s a huge hindrance
on the leadership by the time it gets to that phase because it’s been built up from everybody’s individual desirements. And that’s a big challenge. The flip side of this is, and the second challenge, is in Congress itself. Legislatures. When you, in any oversight
legislative body, in which they have the
authority to actually enact the means to go finance something, if they lose the view, and the absolute imperative that this is an expression
of responsibility on our part to do this, and there will be a consequence
if we don’t enact it in some span of time, then you’ve lost the march. And that’s clearly what’s happened in the national agenda level, is folks don’t, you know, members don’t see
this as of any consequence. What’s the difference
between September 30th and October first? You know, the lights still go on, and you know, everything’s happening, and what’s the big deal? That creates an enormous amount of churn, inertia, ineffectiveness, constant, you know, withholding on any, any forward thinking idea because you just wanna get
through the next period. That might be a day, a week, a month, whatever it is. And that is the least
efficient possible way you could do it. It says, “You might be dying tomorrow, “therefore, don’t plan
anything big beyond today.” And that’s not something
that’s appreciated in terms of how that process, it’s so disconnecting that it becomes an abstraction. And the very idea you know, 20 years ago, with most members in Congress that you would enact something late was an admission of defeat. It was failure. We didn’t make it on time. Now? They gotta look at the calendar to remind themselves how
far in front or behind or whatever it is, and that’s just kind of a historic note, and that’s about all. So, once you lose those imperatives, and I think a part of
that starts with our own insistence on efficiency that as citizens, that that’s where a lot of this has gotta begin as well. And I think you know, some of the rays of hope that Dustin talks about, of looking at continuity between and among administrations, maybe there’s something that we’ll find there in terms of agenda a focus to this, the process second, and
makes decision making first. – I think we had. Do we have one more there? And we have two questions
here in the center. – Good afternoon. First of all, my name is Eric Rogers and I would like to
express my appreciation to the Maxwell for permitting
people from the community, such as myself to participate in important events like this. My question is in the discussion of departments, agencies, et cetera, working together to become more efficient, where does the stakeholder, the people who are, who will
be affected by these decisions, where do they come into this process? – In the voting booth. (laughs) This is the very point, I think, that Governor Whitman raised earlier today in my mind. She was spot on with this. This is, if there is any singular thing that you could point to to say, you know, my vote doesn’t count. Sure it does. It’s your right of expression of what you think is the responsiveness on the part of those who are there to serve the citizenry. And that is absolutely essential. Once we adopt that view, it changes the dimension of this. And folks absolutely want to engage on it. There are a whole array of other approaches to it as well, but I mean, that one’s
the most definitive, it’s personal that each of us have. And it’s a right as
well as a responsibility to exercise. – I think one of the new
trends that’s catching on, at least in the federal government, and certainly, as we’ve traveled around more at the state and local level, is customer focused design, right? So as you’re, if you’re in a government organization at whatever level and you have the obligation to provide a particular service, understanding your customer, a citizen who’s receiving
that and what it looks like so that you design your services to meet that need, not the need that you wanna meet, or designing the system
so that it’s easiest for you to manage. And so that concept is starting to take root, and as it does, and as
agencies come together and realize that there are several of us that are serving that same constituent, or that same customer, the opportunities to identify
overlap and duplication become clearer and the opportunities to streamline customer service delivery
and make it more effective are increasing. So I think as we see the reform plans that, for example, at
the federal agency level that they’ve submitted to OMB, and as OMB is trying to
reconcile and referee the different proposals, having customer centered design at the middle of that will help give it some rationality as to what stays, what goes, what crosses, what doesn’t. – Yep, no, and that is a theme that we are definitely seeing in terms of really making
sure you’ve got the customer kind of as the true north star in terms of thinking about what the
boxes need to look like and where people need to be aligned. One great example that we have is a team called the U.S.
Digital Services Group, which really has brought some of the leading talent from Silicon
Valley and elsewhere into government. We got about 200 people
in that organization, 100 within OMB, 100 within Agencies. And they are working on
exactly these types of problems in terms of where can we leverage, kind of proven private sector technologies and get them more rapidly deployed into government service in a way that better kind of
respond to the customer view, and gets rid of things like paper, which we still use way too much of in our government processes. It has both internal benefits in terms of our productivity, but also, maybe more importantly, has you know, tries to reduce the gap between what a citizen experiences when they interact with
a private sector company, Amazon, or whatever, and what they experience when they go to renew their passport, or some of the other kind of functions that they get from the government. I think that is one of
the issues around trust is, with our institutions, is people do see this gap kind of widening between what they
experience with government versus what they are seeing in private sector kind of capabilities. So, that is something that this group is focused on and has produced really remarkable gains in a relatively short period of time. Led by a tremendous guy, Matt Cutts, who was one of the first
hundred people at Google and has come in and really continues to recruit amazing people into government that are
taking very large paycuts I would also say because the work they’re doing is more inspiring and transformative than anything they’ve done
in their private sector, almost to a person, they come back and say that. Have a lot of work over
at VA, in particular, that’s really groundbreaking stuff. So, I know that’s not exactly an answer, but I do think there is some real hope to
get people in government that do think, first and foremost about engaging the customer, the citizen, and reorient kind of the bureaucracy to focus on that. – We have time for these two questions. I think we have Suzanne here and then the gentleman behind her. – Great, thank you. Suzanne Pertrawski from
Rutgers University. And I’m a faculty member and my research focus is on transparency and open governance, open government. So on the idea, the topic
governance challenges. So my question to you is do you think there is… So I should say, in my research, I found a rollback in open
government and transparency in this country, in multiple countries, and do you agree with that? Do you think there’s a
rollback in transparency right now in the federal government? Do you think that’s even a problem? If there is one, or is that just sort
of a normal correction after a management
reform that really hasn’t produced what it, it was the hope that it
was going to produce. – I have a hard time commenting on like, the last, in this
administration in particular, whether there’s been a rollback, I haven’t seen that, I know that a lot of the gains that have been made in terms of you know, our open data, national plan, and you know, data.gov, and making kind of increasing
number of data sets more available continues to be a resource. But, you know, I’m happy to kind of follow up some more. We are kind of in the
process of trying to, I think put forward a
more proactive strategy around spending and performance, transparency, in particular. I think that’s something that Congress has continually expecting more. There’s a number of pieces of legislation that have mandated kind of certain levels of transparency. And we’re trying to work through how you rationalize some of those kind of competing bills even at times and really implement ’em in a way that’s cost beneficial, but also really responsive
to the type of information that people are interested in. So, everything that I’ve seen is there continues to be a
commitment to those principles and an energy around making that work. So, but I’m happy to you know, follow up more later if there’s a particular thing you’d like to talk about. – And I would just add to that, I was very encouraged by the recent report on the Commission for
Evidence-Based Decision Making and how practical their proposals were in terms of integrating
administrative data across a variety of programs so that, while we have lots, and
lots, and lots of data, it’s not always particularly useful, and you can’t connect the dots. And so, it’s complicated
when you have to balance data security and privacy against this desire for transparency. But I thought they had some
really practical solutions about how to do that
administrative data merge, then kind of protect
that administrative data while allowing researchers, and government program managers, and a whole group of people access to the outcome data so that it could be aggregated and used to evaluate, really evaluate the outcomes
of government programs. So I think there’s hope. But it’s complicated. You know, people don’t want
their federal data released. You don’t want your IRS data connected to your Social Security data, to you health records and public, and so the government
has a huge responsibility to make sure that they protect what they have, the very sensitive individual
data that they have while trying to balance
that need with transparency. – I think we have a question there. – My name is David Adams with the New York State
Division of the Budget. My question’s a little more remediant and the question on the
say, federal government’s over reliance on CRs got
me thinking about another point of concern in the near future, which is the Budget Control Act. So my question is primarily for Dustin, if you could give us any insight on how you think this may play out considering both Houses have advanced approps legislation that
would bust the defense cap and the Senate intends to
bust the non-defense cap. If you think it might look like the recent bipartisan Budget Acts? Or if there might be
a larger deal at play? – You’re trying to get
me in trouble, aren’t ya? Answering question like that in terms of having a
crystal ball on what the 18 approps might look like. I really don’t have a whole lot to add in on that front, to be honest. But, we’ll wait and see and obviously, December’s gonna be a pretty interesting month
for a number of reasons. – You’ll take a pounder
on that one, I take it. (laughs) – I never know if my bosses
are watching back home on the livestream so. – Well having been there, okay, previously. I feel liberated to say
what I think on that. There is no question that the idea behind the Budget Act, when you go back and trace the history, was driven by two propositions. Number one, what are the
impoundment features, they wanted to stop you know, behavior on the part
of the executive branch to simply not spending money and trying to make it sound legitimate that had you know, a turn off of programs that were important to citizens, public, broader, you know, objectives. The second part though, was the Congress actually stepping up to the proposition that we oughta discipline ourselves to do something real fundamental. Which is, understand
the sources of revenue and understand where we’re spending it on the way out and make sure that there’s
some equation between the two. And that was the notion that’s been just about abandoned here in the last you know, seven or eight years now. And the very proposition that you could, you know this was going to go south, when folks adopted as a
feature to implement decisions. Something that was described
as being part of the 86 amendments, 85
amendments to the Budget Act to create this thing called sequester. Everybody had to run for a dictionary to figure out what the hell the word meant at the time it was enacted because it never really heard
how this was supposed to work. But this is a mindless process that is driven by a formula that in turn, then substitutes
for making choices. Policy choices. Program choices. Which is what the Congress
is in power to do. And the executive branch is responsible for serving up as options. And that’s what’s been
abandoned at this state. So, the bigger question of whether or not everybody’s
gonna adhere to the, the budget caps and so forth at this stage in the game is simply symptomatic of this
larger cultural breakdown that says we don’t wanna have a relationship between
the two functions anymore and secondly, we wanna
have something else enforce decisions that are hard. Boy, that’s a real governance challenge that is worthy of a
referendum all by itself. – I know that from a personal standpoint, the sequester that was referenced meant nine furlough days
for every OMB employee, just to give you a sense of you know, how real that really was for especially a small agency like ours and the impact that that
wound up having on morale and things like that obviously, is pretty well documented. So I would just kind of add in almost from a personal standpoint, the real impact that those
types of decisions can have on the ability for an
organization to continue to deliver on mission. – Well please join me
in thanking this panel for their time. (audience applause)

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