Getting It Done: A Guide for Government Executives


Getting It Done: A Guide for Government Executives

Tuesday, February 26th, 2013 - 11:33

Four years ago, the IBM Center for The Business of Government released a book to guide new government executives, especially new political appointees. The goal of the book was to quickly acclimate new government executives to the world of public service as practiced in Washington, D.C. The book, entitled Getting It Done: A Guide for Government Executives (this is the first version), contained a series of short strategic discussions about "the dos and don’ts" of Washington and presented useful insights about working with key stakeholders and constituencies.

Over the last four years, Getting It Done has been widely read, ordered, and re-ordered as a must-read roadmap to hit the ground running for agency leaders. With the advent of a second term for the Obama administration, a new set of leaders will arrive across the federal government in coming months. Accordingly, the Center is updating and rereleasing some key publications that have been well-received. Getting It Done is at the forefront of this effort.

Historically, second terms for a presidency have seen significant activity in improving government. The Clinton administration’s National Partnership for Reinventing Government and the Bush administration’s President’s Management Agenda both saw renewed focus in the four years following reelection. The opportunity for new leaders in the Obama administration to make a difference is great. We hope that this update to Getting It Done will prove useful in helping them to achieve success.

Part I of the book offers a straightforward to-do list to guide officials in their new leadership positions. Tips include how to act quickly on what can't wait, develop a vision and a focused agenda, and much more. Part II of the book provides short overviews of the fourteen stakeholders that government officials will most frequently encounter. These stakeholders include policy councils, Congress, unions, and the Government Accountability Office.

Read individual chapters of the book or order your copy here.


Chapter One: Before Confirmation, Be Careful
Chapter Two: Learn How Things Work
Chapter Three: Act Quickly on What Can’t Wait
Chapter Four: Develop a Vision and a Focused Agenda
Chapter Five: Assemble Your Leadership Team
Chapter Six: Manage Your Environment


Chapter Seven: The White House by Thurgood Marshall, Jr.
Chapter Eight: White House Policy Councils by Paul Weinstein, Jr.
Chapter Nine: Office of Management and Budget by Bernard H. Martin
Chapter Ten: Congress by John J. Callahan
Chapter Eleven: Interagency Collaborators by David F. Garrison
Chapter Twelve: Interagency Councils by D. Cameron Findlay
Chapter Thirteen: Office of Personnel Management by Solly Thomas
Chapter Fourteen: Citizens by Carolyn J. Lukensmeyer
Chapter Fifteen: Unions by Robert M. Tobias
Chapter Sixteen: State and Local Governments by Robert J. O’Neill and Elizabeth K. Kellar
Chapter Seventeen: Interest Groups and Associations by Stan Soloway
Chapter Eighteen: Government Accountability Office by Judy England-Joseph
Chapter Nineteen: Inspectors General by Gaston L. Gianni
Chapter Twenty: Media by Lawrence J. Haas


Read more resources from our Governing in the Next Four Years series.