Achieving government reform...is it possible?

Tuesday - 10/11/2011, 4:05pm EDT

Tom Shoop, editor-in-chief, Government Executive

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It's possible for your agency to be more effective than it currently is and not spend as much money. That's the argument of New York University professor Paul Light in a column in Government Executive.

Light writes, "...Americans are still convinced that the big problem in Washington is not the wrong priorities - unless Americans are asked whether the tax code should favor the super-wealthy. Rather, most believe the big problem is inefficiency in delivering basic goods and services at the lowest possible cost."

Light outlines three challenges government faces:

  • Accountability

    Agencies have too many layers of management, Light said.

    "The total number of senior federal officers increased from 451 in 1960 to more than 2,600 in 2008," he wrote.

    Having so many leaders makes it more difficult for federal employees to understand "where the buck stops."

  • Effectiveness

    One are of ineffectiveness has been in procurement. Government lacks acquisition officers to keep up with increased contracting.

    "That's just a prescription for mismanaging money," said Tom Shoop, editor-in-chief of Government Executive, in an interview with In Depth with Francis Rose.

  • Productivity

    "Government's own employees don't have a high opinion of how leaders manage workforces," Shoop said.

    Light advocates a pay-based performance system and calls for a 10 percent cap on the number of employees who receive the highest grade in performance ratings.