national security

 

national security

Susan Grant interview

Friday, September 9th, 2005 - 20:00
Phrase: 
"Financial information is the consequence of business transactions, and you’ve got to have accountability for the transactions that drive the financial results. We have to take financial data from the CFO’s and link it back to the programs."
Radio show date: 
Sat, 09/10/2005
Guest: 
Intro text: 
Financial Management; Managing for Performance and Results...
Financial Management; Managing for Performance and Results
Complete transcript: 

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Arlington, Virginia

Mr. Morales: Good morning, and welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, managing partner of The IBM Center for the Business of Government. We created the center in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. You can find out more about the center by visiting us on the web at www.businessofgovernment.org. The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our special guest this morning is Susan Grant, chief financial officer of the Department of Energy. Good morning, Susan.

Ms. Grant: Good morning.

Mr. Morales: And joining us in our conversation, also from IBM, is Angela Carrington. Good morning, Angela.

Ms. Carrington: Good morning, Al. Good morning, Susan.

Mr. Morales: Susan, can you tell us about the mission and history of the Department of Energy?

Ms. Grant: Oh, I'd be delighted to. DOE actually has a very rich history, tracing its roots back to a 1939 letter by Albert Einstein, when he wrote to President Roosevelt about nuclear chain reactions. From there, the Manhattan Project was born, and the Atomic Energy Commission was created. Some 30 years later, Department of Energy actually became a Cabinet-level department in 1977, when President Carter merged the Energy Research and Development Administration, which was then the Atomic Energy Commission, and the Federal Energy Administration, to become DOE as we know it today.

We actually today have a three-fold mission. One is advancing the national economic and energy security of the U.S., and secondly is promoting scientific and technological innovation and support of that security, and third is ensuring the environmental cleanup of the national nuclear weapons complex.

Mr. Morales: Interesting. Can you tell us about the mission of the Office of Management, Budget and Evaluation within the Department of Energy?

Ms. Grant: Yes. And that being my organization, I'm extremely familiar with that. But I want to talk about that from two standpoints. One is a single unit and then another to talk about a recent change we've had on an organizational alignment. OMBE, as we call it -- Office of Management, Budget and Evaluation -- is the central support service arm of the department. It's our shared service provider for DOE. It's everything from people to facilities to acquisition to administrative support to dollars, services that are common to all DOE organizations and elements, so they go across the board.

A recent change just announced by the deputy secretary in early August, in order to increase the accountability and focus the alignment of specialized services, we realigned this organization into three discrete elements. Secretary Bodman and Deputy Secretary Sell wanted the increased accountability of direct executives with distinct and dedicated mission responsibilities. So today, we now have three separate organizations. One, we have a standalone human capital organization, and that's dedicated and shows our commitment to the President's Management Agenda in strengthening our human capital side, so we have a human capital organization. Secondly, we have an Office of Management that's looking at our acquisition and procurement of programs and assets, and then thirdly, we have my office, which is the Office of the Chief Financial Officer, and we have dedicated responsibility for all of the financial management -- the fiscal health of the organization, if you will.

Mr. Morales: That's certainly a broad mission. Can you tell us a little bit about the size, budget, and employee skill set at DOE and then specifically at the Office of Management, Budget and Evaluation?

Ms. Grant: Yes. DOE actually -- in the big DOE -- $24 billion is our overall budget for DOE, so reasonably large from government standards, I think, especially when I compare it to what I used to do, which is a little under $2 billion, so a little bit of a jump there in numbers. So $24 billion total at DOE. Our workforce population at DOE is about 15,000 federal folks and about 100,000 contractors. And the immediate office of Office of Management and Budget and Chief Financial Officer, our annual budget is about $110 million, and we have about 600 people. So about 70 million of our budget dollars are on salaries, which says that we're a very labor-intensive organization, I think is what you would expect when you're into what I call bucks, bodies, and buildings. We have a highly skilled workforce in OMBE. Our average grade is midlevel, about a GS-13, which shows that technically, we're extremely proficient. At the same time, when you compare us to the rest of DOE, we have an average age of about 49 -- so I can say I'm above average in that standpoint, not something I'm extremely proud of, but I am above average there -- and we have an average years-in-service of 22 years. So the good news is that we have a lot of service, lot of knowledgeable workers, but the bad news is that we're nearing that retirement age, so you can see our succession planning is very critical.

Ms. Carrington: Susan, can you talk about your role and responsibilities as chief financial officer at DOE?

Ms. Grant: I think the best way I could describe the way I view myself is as a strategic partner to the senior leadership team, and advisor to our program managers and to the Secretary. I like to look at my job this way: accountants view life a year behind, budgeteers look at life a year ahead, program managers live life day to day. My job as a CFO is to deliver meaningful financial information that makes this time warp transparent. So I want to move beyond accountants to budgeteers to our program managers, who have to live with this information, and give them decision-making information. So when you look at our $24-billion budget, and if you were looking at our balance sheet, we have about 120 billion in assets and about 240 billion in liabilities. Our largest single liability is 182 billion in environmental liabilities, which is a huge thing when you look at from the standpoint of the single largest liability, but it also reflects a great mission area of ours, which is our nuclear material cleanup efforts. We have cleanup areas ongoing at over two million acres in over 31 states, so my job as the CFO is to make sure that we're on track spending those resources wisely and doing what we need for the taxpayers.

Ms. Carrington: Interesting. You were appointed as CFO at DOE in December of 2004. Can you sort of talk about life before DOE as CFO?

Ms. Grant: Yes. The immediate life -- I was actually nominated by the President in October 2003, so a little over a year later was confirmed. So I learned a lot about the political process during that, for one thing, and especially coming from a career fed side of the house. My immediate time before coming to DOE was with Defense Department, and I was the chief financial officer and the director of corporate resources at the Defense Finance and Accounting Service. And over there, I did basically the same job I have now at a much smaller scale. I had the Human Resources, I had the EEO, I had the Administration, I had Procurement, I had Budget, Finance, and Accounting. So those same kind of things, just on a different scale. And prior to that, with 30 years in government service, it's all defense-related, so I sort of made this jump from federal career standpoint to joining the administration on the political side and moving from a small agency to a very large agency from my viewpoint.

Mr. Morales: Susan, I don't want to dwell on your overachievement on the average age at DOE, but you certainly have had 30 years of experience as a career civil servant. How do you apply the past experiences to your current role?

Ms. Grant: I think first, it's communications. If you look at what you do, most of it is how you communicate with people. And if I've learned anything in the 30 years, it's that it all has to start with a clear message. And most of the times when you look around what we're doing, it's all about the business of government, and if you go into it thinking and believing that we all have a common goal in mind and we're all focused on the same thing -- and strong public service has always been something that I have had a passion for, and I'm very proud of that standpoint -- the communications associated with that and trying to keep things simple, focused, and meaningful. I grew up on a farm in Georgia, and my test is if I can explain it to my 85-year-old father, who still lives on that farm in Georgia. So I try to keep everything back to that. So my 30 years has been focused on, we're a public servant and can we explain it to those people who are the basic breadwinners and the foundation of this country.

Mr. Morales: Does your father still provide you advice in these areas?

Ms. Grant: Absolutely. All the time. For some reason, he keeps thinking that I'm a lot more important than I am, and that I have a lot more influence than I am, because he'll call me up and say, now, why is the President doing this, like I'm supposed to know.

Mr. Morales: Well, I'm sure he probably knows a lot more about government than he ever thought he'd know. That's great.

You described a little bit about the experiences you had in the past, and certainly communications is a key learning. You were also CFO of the Defense Finance and Accounting Services, also known as DFAS, before coming to Energy. Can you give us a comparison of holding the CFO position in two different government agencies?

Ms. Grant: Yes. I -- probably typical, I'd say. As much as it's the same, it's different, or as much as it's different, it's the same. I had a billion-and-a-half-dollar budget at DFAS, $24 billion here, so when you look at that, yes, the numbers are larger here. When you look at the technical side, the technical programs were different. We paid 5.2 million people at DFAS, you know, all the retirees, all of the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, all the civilians, so paid a lot of people, we did a lot of transactions, we disbursed over a billion dollars a day at DFAS, so high-volume, high-transaction oriented. So from that standpoint, a move to DOE, the technical programs are different, obviously. We talk wind and solar, which I knew nothing about, we talk neutron physics, which, again -- you know, after 30 years in Defense, I knew about tanks and airplanes and carriers, didn't know a lot about neutrons. So learning the technical side of that has been a challenge for me. But then when you strip all that away, the basic fundamentals of -- it's the same financial management business. The numbers may be larger, but it's the same: do we know what it costs us to do our business, and are we managing the taxpayer resources responsibly. Whether you're spending $100, a billion dollars, or $24 billion, do we know what it costs us to do our business, are we spending it wisely, and are we getting the results we're looking for. So that's where I say it's about communications; it's about moving beyond the numbers and going back to the basic business principles.

Mr. Morales: How is DOE faring with the President's Management Agenda? We will ask Energy CFO Susan Grant to share this with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Susan Grant, chief financial officer of the Department of Energy. Also joining us in our conversation is Angela Carrington.

Susan, let's begin by learning about DOE's four strategic goals. Can you give us a brief overview of these goals?

Ms. Grant: Yes, I'd be delighted to. First, our defense goal. Our defense goal is centered around protecting our national security by applying advanced science and nuclear technology to the nation's defense. We're responsible for the national nuclear stockpile stewardship; that's valued, if you look at our balance sheet -- being the CFO, I like to look at numbers -- it's valued at somewhere around $22 billion worth of nuclear assets. One of the key things in the Department of Energy is that we have all the nuclear weapons on our books; they're not on Defense Department books, they're on DOE books. I like to say that the Defense Department are taxi drivers for our nuclear weapons. That's a different thing, so -- first one's our defense goal.

Secondly, our energy goal, promoting diverse supply and delivery of a reliable and affordable environmentally sound energy program. The U.S. consumes 20 million barrels of oil a day, and we're working hard to reduce our dependence on foreign oil sources. Further -- this was interesting to me when I came to DOE -- 53 percent of our electricity still comes from coal. I sort of thought that coal was an old, antiquated source of electricity, but we still have 53 percent of our electricity coming from coal. So we're working hard, and we need to make coal usage safer, more environmentally friendly. So that's our energy goal.

Third, our science goal, providing world-class scientific research in physical science and scientific knowledge. We're the premier physical science promoter in the country. We operate world-renowned National Laboratory Complex -- interesting, we've had over 80 Nobel Prize winners in Department of Energy since our existing.

Our fourth goal is our environmental goal, providing a responsible resolution to the environmental legacy of the Cold War, and providing for the permanent disposal of the nation's high-level radioactive waste. I mentioned earlier our cleanup activities that are ongoing in the 31 states. We take that business extremely seriously, and we want to leave our children and our grandchildren with a cleaner landscape, so we have a lot of legacy cleanup to do.

So those are our four strategic goals.

Mr. Morales: Great. Susan, you alluded to a couple of other government organizations, such as the Department of Defense. How is DOE partnering with security and science agencies to meet DOE's mission to advance critical aspects of our nation's security?

Ms. Grant: Very closely. We work hand-in-glove with Defense Department on the defense goal, with Environmental Protection Agency on our environmental goal, with National Science Foundation on our science goal, so it's a very close partnership with other executive departments. On other agencies as well, we're hand-in-glove with them. Also with private sector, with university systems, because of all the need on trying to ensure that we have the right knowledge base and the right fertilization and cross-fertilization of that. So very much partners and strategic partners with them for the nation's security.

Ms. Carrington: Susan, you mentioned earlier the President's Management Agenda in relation to human capital. Can you talk a little bit about what DOE is doing in the five areas of the President's Management Agenda?

Ms. Grant: Yes. We have a very aggressive and committed leadership team who sees PMA -- President's Management Agenda -- as part of our everyday business. One of the things we're trying to move away from is achieving a color score for the sake of achieving a color score because we need to make the initiatives real. So we're taking actions at the grass-roots level to make our PMA real and trying to change the culture and the way we respond to the initiatives. Secretary Bodman and Deputy Secretary Clay, I like to say, walk the talk when it comes to that. They're doing things for the right reasons, and they're challenging us to make sure that we're doing things for the right reasons, which goes hand-in-glove with my background, and my daddy would be very proud of that.

So one of the things that they're doing -- and they've reinforced this -- is holding executives accountable for the results. Things like in human capital right now, we are working on solid succession planning actions at all levels. In competitive sourcing we're looking at efficiencies and streamlining opportunities in all of our business areas. In financial performance and budget and performance integration -- those that I'm the executive sponsor for -- we're committed to making more meaningful information available in timely and more credible ways. I equate this to managing through the front windshield versus the rear view mirror, like driving a car. I say, we've got to get away from giving accounting reports to somebody that shows where you were 45 days ago and start looking at front windshield information.

And in the e-government area, we're adopting new technologies to modernize our business infrastructure, such as our modern commercial accounting system. As you well know, Angela, those are the kind of initiatives and the progress and the forward motion we're making in the PMA.

Ms. Carrington: DOE has made great progress in terms of what many agencies have often neglected -- management issues -- and DOE, really, while maybe the focus wasn't on the color, has done a wonderful job of achieving green in four areas: financial performance, budget-to-performance integration, human capital, and e-government. I just wanted to get a feel from you on how you think DOE was able to achieve those greens in those areas.

Ms. Grant: I think commitment, focus and accountability. And we got serious about what we were doing, we figured out what needed to be done, and we did it for the right reasons, and we went after it, and we did it. The accountability is really, really key to this. We had to have a network of everybody coming together to show the joint accountability in the area of financial management. As you know, we sort of did a little backsliding, though, in our progress; we went from green to yellow for financial management for progress on that one, and that was because we took our eye off that ball and didn't look at results. We made green, and we sort of said, whew, we're there, as opposed to saying, let's stretch now in where we want to keep going. So we're reinvigorating that one now, so that's where I was saying that the focus and making sure we're doing it for the right reasons.

Ms. Carrington: Can you talk a little more about the plans for maintaining the greens in those four areas?

Ms. Grant: We have business plans in place in those areas with definable actions, targets, and measures to know if we're on track to get there. One of the things that I think you'll see in any entity, whether it's in private sector or public sector, you need indicators to know if you're on course and on track and not wait until you're already there to say, whoops, I missed that milestone. One of the things we found in financial management is that we didn't have enough forward-looking indicators to know if we were going to make it. So that's where we're focusing now, on what are the leading indicators versus the lagging indicators.

Mr. Morales: I think that's an absolutely critical point. It's very easy to measure things that have occurred in the past, and oftentimes you should be less concerned about what happened in the past and more concerned about what happens in the future.

Susan, you talked earlier about commitment, focus, and accountability, which are certainly the foundations for success in any program. What advice would you give to other government executives on keeping up with their financial management and achieving a green in financial management on the Executive Branch Management Scorecard?

Ms. Grant: First, I would say shared accountability. I think that as CFOs, we have to remember the numbers are not our numbers. We're custodians of the numbers. The numbers belong to the program offices. One of the hardest things that I think that I am faced with at DOE is getting my own staff and my own senior leadership peer group to understand that I'm just the deliverer of the financial information. Financial information are consequences of business transactions, and you've got to have accountability for the business transactions that drive the financial results. So it's that shared accountability. So if we're trying to look at financial management as a CFO or a financial manager's responsibility, we'll never get there. So we've got to find the hooks and the ways to say that the financials are results of business, therefore, who owns the business. They're our program managers, so how do we have that shared accountability? So we have to take the financial management out of just the CFO side of the house and make sure we've got the linkage back to the programs.

Mr. Morales: So it's providing that capability throughout the business as opposed to having it housed within a stovepipe apposite the CFO.

Ms. Grant: Yes.

Mr. Morales: Great. According to DOE's report on energizing America for a new century -- and I'm going to quote from the report -- "The PMA is not the end, it is a means to an end. If the Department's only legacy from implementing the PMA is a manual of meaningless new procedures, superfluous meetings, added paperwork, we will have failed the American people." How do you plan on further delivering results through the PMA, and can you give us some examples of how you've accomplished this in the past few years?

Ms. Grant: Yes. I think that goes to some of the fundamental things on why we're doing what we're doing. You know that when this President came in and wanted to start the whole initiative under the President's Management Agenda -- and Clay Johnson, I think, was the real spearheader for this -- as we said, he put the management back in the Office of Management and Budget -- trying to say, what are the results that we're after. One of the things that we're taking on in DOE is to make sure we have the right measures. As you know, measurement drives behavior, and if you're measuring the wrong thing, you're going to drive behavior in the wrong way. And one of the things that we're looking hard at is to make sure that we are measuring the right thing, so often we're measuring the things that are easy and not necessarily measuring where we want to go. And if you look at what we have achieved, we've achieved some wonderful things, some cost savings; we've done cleanup -- you know, our cost to clean up sites, we understand, we know how to estimate those cleanup activities better, so we're controlling those costs, we're implementing earned value management systems and capabilities, we're training our project managers, so we've got some demonstrated results in a number of our areas, our stockpile stewardships, our megaports, so we've delivered results in those, but now the question is where do we want to go, and let's make sure that we're going to measure those forecasted results versus where we have been.

Mr. Morales: Well, Susan, certainly measuring is easy; measuring the right thing is the art and science of achieving results. What is I-Manage, and how is it supporting financial data? We will ask Energy CFO Susan Grant to explain this to us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Susan Grant, chief financial officer of the Department of Energy. Also joining us in our conversation is Angela Carrington.

Susan, how is DOE linking its budget and performance to meet the goals outlined in the strategic plan?

Ms. Grant: We're actually doing this in two parts. First, for fiscal year '05, we have our budget and performance integration initiatives and activities in real property management, environmental project cost accounting, earned value management, and in our IT world, and we have specific measures and targets that are linked to those and how they tie back to science and defense and environment and the energy side on that. But secondly, since we just have wrapped up our '07 internal budget deliberations in order to submit our budget to OMB in September, we're using this as our jumping-off platform to reinvigorate our strategic planning initiative. At the same time that we did our '07 budget we looked at '06, because, you know, we just passed the Energy Bill, which we are absolutely delighted about because it's the first time after four-plus years that we finally have a comprehensive energy bill that we can rally around and focus the efforts on. So we looked at '06 -- and this budget being '07 to 2011, that gives us where we're forecasted to go. And this time -- it was our first time, you know, under Secretary Bodman, so it's his first time to really look at where we're going as a department.

So now what we're undertaking is a revitalized strategic planning initiative using the '07 to 2011 budget decisions as a baseline, the Energy Bill commitments as a platform, and the vision of this Secretary to where he wants DOE to go to chart our new course for the future. So we're looking at having a new strategic plan drafted in the spring of 2006 and then looking to say, okay, how do we tweak where we're going now with all those new things in play.

Mr. Morales: Susan, in our last segment, we talked about the criticality of getting the right performance measures. What are some of the performance metrics DOE uses to measure the progress of its programs?

Ms. Grant: First, I'll tell you we have too many. We absolutely have too many. We have over 250 measures right now. I don't know if you're advocates of Balanced Scorecard or some of the other approaches, but they would tell you if you have that many measures, you probably aren't measuring necessarily the right things. So we have over 250 measures, which is far too many, and we've initiated an effort to go program by program to make sure that we're measuring the right thing, which goes back to our other comment and our other discussion point, making sure we're measuring the right thing, because I think in those 250 measures, we measured what was easy in a lot of cases in information we have, not necessarily where we want to go.

But of those 250 measures that we have, we do measure the normal things: cost, schedule, performance of our programs and our projects. We measure our facility, operational metrics, like looking at availability, how long we're running a machine or how long we're going to run this experiment. We measure things like cubic meters disposed, the number of canisters poured for vitrified waste, the number of megaports that we've made safe -- you know, we have a big megaport initiative where we do international megaports to put in equipment so that we can do screening before it comes into the U.S. So those are the various measures that we measure today.

Mr. Morales: That must certainly be an administrative challenge, measuring that many metrics.

Ms. Grant: It is huge. It is huge. But unfortunately with that many measures I think it's become more of an administrative burden more than a management tool right now, which is why I want to pare it down to make it more meaningful.

Ms. Carrington: Susan, you talked earlier about the average employee age being 49, so things like recruiting and training are so important. Can you talk a little bit about what DOE is doing in the way of recruiting, retraining, and retaining its employees?

Ms. Grant: Yes. One of the things, if you look around and try to find a 20- or a 30-year-old around there, we're probably like other federal agencies; it's hard to find right now. So we've really mounted a big aggressive campaign trying to look through our internships and our fellowship programs, trying to bring on -- do recruiting out with some of the schools, trying to look at that succession planning. But if you look at our blended workforce of 15,000 federal folks and 100,000 contractors, we partner a lot with our large major facility management contractors to ensure that we have the right comprehensive training programs and recruitment programs. You know, we recruit a lot, we have a lot of scientists, a lot of physicists, so a lot of highly skilled technical folks from that standpoint. So trying to get the right balance between what we need in the federal workforce versus what we need in the contractor workforce is a challenge and requires a lot of partnership that we need with our contractor community. But at the same time, we have an aggressive developmental program, an aggressive intern program, fellowship program, as well as professional certifications for our current employees to ensure that we maintain the skill sets that we need today.

Ms. Carrington: You mentioned earlier how important using financial data for decision making is. How is DOE using financial data routinely to make major decisions about major programs and projects?

Ms. Grant: Well, we're getting better. And with our new accounting system we're going to get even better than that because, you know, we're close now to real-time financial data. So that is wonderful, so the more that we can give folks the data, and that they can push a button and go in and look at their data, the better off they're going to use the data. So we need to make it more timely, we need to make it more meaningful, and back to the business basics.

The other side of that is that Secretary Bodman and Deputy Secretary Sell are just advocates for running it like a business, so with Secretary Bodman, his strong background in private sector, and then his public sector background, he's adamant about looking at the business basics. So he's asking those questions. So when you've got top leadership asking the financial questions, all of a sudden you've got managers wanting the financial information. So we're getting better about using our financial data, and our challenge is making sure that we deliver it to our customers in a more timely manner and making it more credible for them.

Ms. Carrington: I know that DOE just recently implemented a new financial system by the name of the I-Manage program, specifically STARS being the financial system. Can you tell us about the program and how you feel it will improve financial management and performance within the Department?

Ms. Grant: Absolutely, and I think that is a tremendous feat where we partnered, as you well know, with IBM and Oracle and our own federal workforce to deliver this system and put it in place. It's state-of-the-art, commercial, off the shelf, and very little, if any, real customization, which is a feat for us, I think, in government to do. We want to change our business practices versus changing the system to meet our own way of doing business. So I think that's the first thing. You know, systems drive practices and practices drive systems, and if you know where you want to go, both of those means will get you there. So we made a conscious decision to let this off-the-shelf system drive our business practices. So this is a great feat for us. We're going through learning curve without a doubt. Any system implementation I've ever been in never comes without a lot of challenges, and I recognize that. But it's going quite well, we are delighted with the progress we've made, we've got the accounting, the general ledger module in, we're focused on year-end close, getting ready for year-end close and our audit, and we're going to get there. We have a data warehouse trying to deliver standardized reports to our customers, so we are very pleased with where we're going.

Mr. Morales: Customization is certainly one of those very seductive but deadly trappings, so it's good to hear that you're resisting the temptation.

Ms. Grant: And it has been a temptation many, many times.

Mr. Morales: Susan, in a previous segment, we talked a little bit about how DOE is working with other agencies in some of their mission-related programs. Along those lines, how is DOE working with other federal agencies to take advantage of the economies of scale and tremendous purchasing power of the federal government by consolidating similar systems used by different agencies and avoiding some of the duplication that we hear about in government?

Ms. Grant: Ooh, good question. I'd say there's two ways. There's a formal way and an informal way. There are many vehicles formally that we have. The CFO Council. Linda Combs at OMB and her push. Linda Springer, I think, really kick-started the CFO Council and then Linda Combs has picked that up, the comptroller at OMB. That CFO Council is the way that -- of all the 24 cabinet-level agencies, bring the CFOs together, and we vet all of these things, and especially now that they're looking at system requirements and where we're going to have common practices and common systems. So that's one of the formal venues. Another formal venue is through the e-government initiatives and what we're doing, and then the lines of business. So there are a lot of forums and vehicles and formal structures in place that give us those vetting opportunities, if you will.

Informally, we have a lot of not only networking and personal relationships, but we have a lot of business opportunities to partner. I know Sam Mok and I work closely because he's coming right behind right now wanting to implement his commercial system, and he's learning from us so that he doesn't go down the same paths so that we can capitalize on some of the things that we've learned. And the same thing, we worked with Transportation, with Education, who have Oracle financials in place, which is what we've put in. So there's a lot of informal ways as well.

Mr. Morales: Great. It sounds like collaboration and networking are certainly best practices and key to success in this area.

What does the future hold for Energy? We will ask Energy CFO Susan Grant to explain this to us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Susan Grant, chief financial officer of the Department of Energy. Also joining us in our conversation is Angela Carrington.

Susan, how will DOE continue to streamline and consolidate its complex financial and information technology systems, bringing 21st century efficiencies?

Ms. Grant: I think first it's going to be awareness, and that's awareness of our own business needs and awareness of what the technology holds. You know, technology can be your friend or your worst enemy, I guess, and one of the things, I think, that we found, in some cases we've got to resist paving the cow path, as I say. You've got to know your business and you've got to be able to look forward and use technology to drive better business practices. So one of the things that I want us to do is look at where we want to go in the financial business management side of the house, and use technology to drive us there versus using technology to just redo where we are today. So that's where I say awareness of what our business needs are and then where our technology is taking us.

Ms. Carrington: On the mission side of DOE, Susan, what do you consider some of the energy challenges you foresee in the future for DOE, and how do you plan on overcoming some of those?

Ms. Grant: Well, as I mentioned earlier about passage of the energy legislation -- and we are absolutely thrilled and delighted that the Congress passed that and the President has signed that bill -- that that comprehensive legislation has finally given the nation something to rally around, marshalling resources for the right energy future, for the nation and then the Department in shaping our future around that, I think is our critical mission for DOE. What are we doing, where are we delivering, diversifying energy supply, and where are we investing those resources in energy supply -- wind, solar, biomass, wherever our diversification is, sequestration, coal sequestration, wherever we're trying to go on that. Energy conservation and awareness, Nstar Equipment, you know, which is the energy efficient equipment. So energy conservation is huge. Promoting tax credits -- I think all of those kinds of things are huge energy challenges for us, and those of us in the financial community, if we don't understand where the future of energy is going, then we can't support the business strategies to get us there. So one of our key bridges, or gaps to bridge, I think, is trying to understand the energy future.

Ms. Carrington: Right, understanding the mission of the agency is just so important. What other new initiatives is DOE planning for in the future?

Ms. Grant: Many of them are associated around the Energy Bill. We're just now going through, looking at what's in the authorization -- it is an authorization -- looking at what's in the authorization bill right now, trying to understand it and then move forward to see what will be in the appropriations for the Energy Bill. One of the biggest things will be the Alaskan Pipeline. So that's a huge area. The other will be in the nuclear power side of the house; nuclear power right now only delivers about 20 percent of our energy needs, so we want to try to increase that. So that will be a huge area in our whole nuclear energy. So those are specific in terms of technologies, if you will, in where we're going.

In terms of the basics, I would say doing our business smarter and better, as basic as that sounds. Little things, like do we need every dollar that we have, are we using it the right way, just remembering that it's taxpayers' money. I like to say we're self-employed. How many people get the opportunity to say you're self-employed? When you're a public servant, you're actually self-employed, and we've got to remember that we're spending our own money, so doing business smarter and better is our mantra.

Mr. Morales: That's a fascinating philosophy, and I think that it should be more pervasive across government. Where do you envision DOE going in the next five to ten years?

Ms. Grant: Infrastructure-wise, I would say leaner and more streamlined. We need to look at what our structure is, where we need to be; we still have a lot of Cold War legacy in our facilities. Look at all of our Cold War facility, all the cleanup we're doing. So just like Defense went through their Cold War infrastructure, we have to do the same thing in DOE. So that's where I say leaner and more streamlined from that standpoint.

I think also from the science standpoint you're going to see a huge surge in DOE on the science front that we are the premier physical science provider for this country. That's what we got to do. If you look at the number of kids today who are going into the sciences in the educational system, you don't find it. And we've got to keep our edge in science and technology. So one of the big venues for us is going to be what can we do to increase the stability in the future of the nation by stabilizing that science future. That's one of the things we need to leave behind. So I think the science side of it is going to be huge for us. So that's where I think I would go on that.

Mr. Morales: Susan, previously we talked about some of the issues around the aging workforce, certainly within the Department of Energy, which I think is also, again, pervasive across government. What advice could you give a person who's interested in a career in public service, certainly to attract those individuals to the kind of work that you do?

Ms. Grant: After 9/11 we had a real resurgence in public service. A lot of people joined public service after 9/11, which shows you that the nation is still very much committed to public service. So it's very sad, obviously, that it took something that catastrophic to do that, but it also shows you that the nation understands the value of public service. One of the things that used to always bug the dickens out of me was -- you've heard the term "good enough for government work"? And I don't know if you know where that comes from, but it actually comes from during the war, that saying used to be when, if it was good enough for government work, it was the best that there was because if it was good enough for government work, then that's what we were going to turn over to our troops over in the war. So it used to have a very positive meaning when we'd say it's good enough for government work, because it was the best the nation could do. And today, that saying has almost become, well, it's not very good. So it actually comes from a totally different background.

So I think that public service is probably the best career that anybody could have. I think it's a privilege to serve, so I would say that if somebody is interested in a career in public service, that they need to know that it's what you're willing to give is what you're going to get back from it, and that you've got to take ownership for the nation. It's no longer somebody else's responsibility for running the nation; it is ours, and we've got to get our young people involved in public service. That's where it's got to come from, is our young people involved with public service, starting as quickly and as easily as voting. I mean, how many people vote today? So we've just got to have that resurgence in public service. So I would say if people want to get involved, you've got to have your skill sets, you've got to have your platform, your skills, you've got to be committed to doing what's right for the greater of the good, maybe -- as Pollyanna as that sounds, I still believe in that -- and you've got to know that it's a privilege to serve.

Mr. Morales: Susan, that's great advice and a wonderful call to service for our young folks. Susan, that'll have to be our last question. Angela and I want to thank you for fitting us in your busy schedule and joining us this morning, and we especially want to thank you for your service to our country, both in your roles at the Departments of Navy, Air Force, DFAS, and now as CFO for the Department of Energy.

Ms. Grant: Well, thank you very much, Al and Angela. I really appreciate the opportunity to come and join you all today. I'd like to ask everybody to check out our Energy website; there's a lot of information out there on a number of great things. So it's just a click away, www.energy.gov, so check us out and again, thank you all very much.

Mr. Morales: Thank you very much.

This has been The Business of Government Hour featuring a conversation with Susan Grant, chief financial officer for the Department of Energy. Be sure to visit us on the web at www.businessofgovernment.org. There you can learn more about our programs and get a transcript of today's fascinating conversation. Once again, that's www.businessofgovernment.org.

For The Business of Government Hour, I'm Albert Morales. Thank you for listening.

Applying 21st-Century Government to the Challenge of Homeland Security

Monday, January 1st, 2001 - 14:00
Author(s): 
This paper describes the emerging implementation strategies of government in the twenty-first century. The first section describes three models of government available to policy makers who believe that the bureaucratic model cannot solve the problems at hand: Reinvented Government, Government by Network and Government by Market. Reinvented Government is government shorn of many public sector trappings and geared towards performance.

Understanding Electronic Signatures: The Key to E-Government

Monday, January 1st, 2001 - 14:00
Author(s): 
The project explores the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) use of electronic signatures for its electronic filing program for individual tax returns. The case study describes how IRS approached the need for electronic authentication solutions. Since its launch, the number of returns signed electronically each year has increased. Technology and E-Government

SeaPort: Charting a New Course for Professional Services Acquisition for America's Navy

Monday, January 1st, 2001 - 14:00
Author(s): 
The project presents a case study of the SeaPort operation, established by the Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) as a faster, better, and cheaper way of procuring over half a billion dollars worth of professional support services necessary to support the Navy’s mission around the world.

Advancing High End Computing: Linking to National Goals

Monday, January 1st, 2001 - 14:00
Author(s): 
The report discusses the critical importance of high end computing (HEC) to science, engineering and the overall research and development system of the nation, as well as the role of policy-makers in ensuring HEC’s continued advancement. Professors Rogers and Bozeman address the importance of high end computing as a tool for achieving national goals and the application needs of the scientific, research and business community. Innovation

The Defense Leadership Management Program: Taking Career Development Seriously

Monday, January 1st, 2001 - 14:00
This project examines the implementation of the innovative Defense Leadership Management Program (DLAMP) and draws conclusions about its strengths and weaknesses. DLAMP is an innovation in the public sector's management of human resources and an attempt by the federal government to provide a program of systematic career development for it's civilian employees. Programs such as DLAMP are an important component of the public sector’s efforts to shore up its workforce for the challenges of the new century and make government service an attractive career option for generations to come.

The Influence of Organzational Commitment on Officer Retention: A 12-Year Study of U.S. Army Officers

Monday, January 1st, 2001 - 14:00
Author(s): 
The goal of this report is to improve employee retention rates within the public sector by examining the longitudinal influence of organizational commitment on turnover intentions and actual turnover behavior. By determining the length of time it takes for organizational commitment to develop and the point at which it stabilizes within the employees' tenure in the organization, managers will have a better understanding of when and how organizational commitment develops. Human Capital Management

Corporate Strategic Planning in Government: Lessons from the United States Air Force

Monday, January 1st, 2001 - 14:00
Author(s): 
This report analyzees and evaluates corporate strategic planning employed by the United States Air Force. The study covers the legacy left by the inception of corporate strategic planning in the Air Force in 1994 and identifies how the current leaders are adapting to the dynamic world. Strategic Thinking

Transforming Government: Creating the New Defense Procurement System

Monday, January 1st, 2001 - 14:00
Author(s): 
This report focuses on the government leaders within the Pentagon and the White House who transformed the weapons procurement process from a rule-bound, inflexible, and inefficient system to a more subjective, cost-effective, and innovative public acquisition process. The study seeks to discover how these public sector leaders injected private sector business methodologies into the traditional federal bureaucracy and offers an illustration of how this government team exemplified leading widespread change and instilling innovation. Organizational Transformation