Government Reform: Senator McCain

 

Government Reform: Senator McCain

Tuesday, September 2nd, 2008 - 17:36
The Republican Convention is underway and while there are many caught up in the hoopla and breathing a sigh of relief over how New Orleans received only a glancing blow from Hurricane Gustav, the question of how Senator John McCain would govern...

The Republican Convention is underway and while there are many caught up in the hoopla and breathing a sigh of relief over how New Orleans received only a glancing blow from Hurricane Gustav, the question of how Senator John McCain would govern is being explored.

As of the time of the convention, he has laid out a series of proposals and made a number of statements that provide an outline.  Government Executive magazine has devoted its cover story this month to Senator McCain’s possible priorities in managing the government. His campaign website also has several specific statements, and his interview last month with the Washington Post’s Joe Davidson provides additional insights.

Government Executive’s article observes that “McCain’s penchant for reform likely would influence his management style.” Interviews with several observers conclude that he would likely turn away from the use of checklists and scorecards, which are prevalent under President Bush’s management approach. His top economic policy advisor, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, says that McCain’s promise to conduct a top-to-bottom review of all federal programs would be conducted in 6-8 months and be built off of OMB’s existing Program Assessment Rating Tool.

Ethics and Transparency

Like Senator Obama, Senator McCain offers a series of commitments related to ethics and transparency. These include:

Seal the Pork Barrel. Senator McCain says he “would shine the disinfecting light of public scrutiny on those who abuse the public purse,” and exercise the veto pen.

Stop the Revolving Door and Restore Ethics. Senator McCain will promote “greater transparency regarding the official activities of lobbyists,” and fight the “revolving door” when officials leave their posts and become lobbyists.

Campaign Finance Reform. Senator McCain wants to enforce prohibitions on corporate and union political contributions, set sensible limits, and foster greater disclosure of how campaigns are funded.

Fiscal Discipline

Senator McCain says he would institute “comprehensive spending controls” starting with a “one-year spending pause. Freeze non-defense, non-veterans discretionary spending for a year and use those savings for deficit reduction. A one-year pause in the growth of discretionary spending will be imposed to allow for a comprehensive review of all spending programs. After the completion of a comprehensive review of all programs, projects and activities of the federal government, we will propose a plan to modernize, streamline, consolidate, reprioritize and, where needed, terminate individual programs.”

He also vows to “take back earmark funds. The McCain Administration will reclaim billions of add-on spending from earmarks and add-ons in FY 2007 and 2008.”

Other Management Issues

In the Q-and-A interview with reporter Joe Davidson, of the Washington Post, Senator McCain offered several specifics:

Civil Service. "The civil service has strayed from its reformist roots and has mutated into a no-accountability zone, where employment is treated as an entitlement, good performance as an option, and accountability as someone else's problem. Our current system isn't fair to the many good federal workers who do not receive recognition for commitment and excellence and must pick up the slack of those who aren't doing their jobs. We must identify excellence in civil service, reward and reward it appropriately."

Contracting Reform. Senator McCain said: “I will expand the use of fixed-price contracts to enforce discipline in the procurement process and ensure that clearly defined requirements are fulfilled, realistic schedules are kept, and costs don't exceed the promised price.”

He went on to say: “We must also limit sole-source contracting and make cost discipline a priority using market competition to keep costs down and innovation up."

Political Appointees. According to the Government Executive article, McCain “has expressed his distaste for the growing number of political appointees in government. . . “ so he may be amenable to calls from outsiders, such as Dr. Paul Light, to reduce the number of political appointees. In his Washington Post interview, McCain added that he would “want to recruit some of them for an executive search leadership group to help my administration find the right people for the right executive jobs. . .”

If you are aware of other management reform commitments, please add to this list! Then we can wait and see what the Wall Street Journal comes up with!