The Business of Government Hour


About the show

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. The executives discuss their careers and the management challenges facing their organizations. Past government executives include Administrators, Chief Financial Officers, Chief Information Officers, Chief Operating Officers, Commissioners, Controllers, Directors, and Undersecretaries.

The interviews

Join the IBM Center for a weekly conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business.

Jacquelyn L. Williams-Bridgers interview

Monday, November 29th, 1999 - 20:00
Jacquelyn L. Williams-Bridgers
Radio show date: 
Thu, 09/14/2000
Intro text: 
Missions and Program...

Missions and Program

Magazine profile: 
Complete transcript: 

Arlington, Virginia

September 14, 2000

Mr. Lawrence: Good evening and welcome to the Business of Government Hour, Conversations with Government Leaders.

I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and the co-chair of The PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment for The Business for Government. We created The Endowment in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. Find out more about The Endowment by visiting us on the Web at

The Business of Government Hour focuses on outstanding government executives who are changing the way government does business. Our special guest tonight is Jacquelyn Williams-Bridgers, Inspector General of the U.S. Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Welcome, Jackie.

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: Thank you very much for having me here, Paul.

Mr. Lawrence: Joining us tonight in our conversation is another PwC partner, Patti Fisher. Hi, Patti.

Ms. Fisher: Hi, Paul.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, Jackie, in this first segment, let's start by finding out more about the role of the Inspector General. Can you tell us about the function of the Office of the Inspector General?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: The Office of Inspector General for the Department of State and Broadcasting Board of Governors was created by Congress to prevent and detect fraud, waste, and mismanagement at those agencies. Like all other offices of Inspector General in the Federal government, we were mandated to conduct audits, inspections, and criminal investigations of the programs and activities of our agencies. We are also all required to report directly to the Secretary, or the head of our agency, and to the Congress, therefore, reinforcing the independent nature of our operations.

But what makes the Department of State OIG fairly unique is that we have three additional mandates imposed on no other OIG. We are required by law to assess the implementation of foreign policy. How well are embassies achieving U.S. foreign policy interests abroad? We're also asked to evaluate the security posture of our embassies overseas. Are our people well protected, where they live and in the chanceries where they work? Is their housing safe? Is the information securely transmitted between and to posts abroad? We also are expected to evaluate intelligence activity where the U.S. may have a presence in a country to insure that it is conducted in compliance with the law and is consistent with U.S. foreign policy interests.

Ms. Fisher: Jackie, you started your career in public service over 20 years ago at the General Accounting Office. Can you tell us about the various positions you've held during your career?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: Actually, I like to think of my career having begun before I reached GAO. I'm a native Washingtonian, so I lived and breathed government -- from the day I was born, I guess. So my summer breaks from school, from college, were spent in the office of Mayor Walter Washington, learning how city government works, actually having the exciting opportunity of working through home rule issues in the District of Columbia. But professionally, my career did begin, as you mentioned Patti, at the General Accounting Office where I was a program evaluator and policy analyst for a variety of domestic issues -- housing and community development, small business administration, and surface transportation infrastructure. So I learned how to conduct audits and program evaluations there. I also took a very brief stint away from GAO in the early 80s and joined the Office of Inspector General community at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. There I worked on fraud prevention and awareness issues.

Mr. Lawrence: How were you recruited to come to the State Department?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: Actually, a colleague of mine from GAO, who had actually left GAO and went to work for the Vice President's National Performance Review initiative called and said that he heard that there was a vacancy at State Department -- Inspector General position. I was a very reluctant engagement because I was enjoying tremendously what I was doing at GAO. And so, after a few follow-up phone calls and a little bit more encouragement, I submitted my application to the White House. There began my journey to the Department.

Mr. Lawrence: What was attractive about making the change?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: The opportunity, certainly, to run an organization that was committed to the same sorts of objectives that I had learned to come to value so much at GAO. To have a platform to realize a vision of my own about how we can improve government operations.

Ms. Fisher: Jackie, you have had experience in both the legislative and executive branches. How did those experiences differ?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: Actually, the differences between the GAO and the Office of Inspector General aren't that great. We both have the same mission and that is to improve operations of government. We both have similar constituencies. GAO largely, of course, reports to the Congress, but we also report to the Congress, as well as to the agencies that we work with. We also have the same operating principles -- it's independence of thinking, independence of thought, the mandate to produce objective and unbiased analysis. What probably I find are fundamental differences between working in the legislative branch and working in the executive branch is that the legislative branch is much about building coalitions, whereas in the executive branch, the agenda is more or less set. The goals are made quite clear out of the White House. So the real challenge there is working with people to insure that everyone is working on the same strategies to achieve the goals that are well articulated from the beginning.

Mr. Lawrence: As you look back on your career, what positions provided you the best opportunity to develop as a leader?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: Actually, I think GAO and OIG have provided different, but equal, and invaluable experiences in developing me as a leader of an organization. GAO provided me the fundamentals. Their emphasis on training and evaluation techniques, on communication and delivery, on the legislative process were essential to the work that I do now. But at OIG, I had the opportunity to test whether or not I could actually motivate people around a vision that I had for working inside an agency. I also had the ability to work in a global environment and that certainly is a challenge -- not only in communicating in timely ways and conducting your work in timely ways, but being very mindful of cultural context and organizational structure -- they are quite different and often make the goals and the programs and activities that you think you know so well not work very well at all.

Ms. Fisher: You mentioned communication and the ability to motive people as qualities that are characteristic of a good leader. Are there other characteristics that you deem to be important to become a good leader?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: Oh, absolutely. I think that while it is important to know how to communicate well, listening is so critical. You've got to hear what people are saying and react. I think probably as important is to go out and seek feedback from the bottom of your organization to the very top, from inside and from outside, and to continuously re-evaluate whether or not what you are doing makes sense to the people inside. Because if they don't understand what you're doing, if they're not on board, then you'll never really achieve your goal. The same goes for the people on the outside. Especially with OIG, which has been traditionally characterized as being a very closed kind of shop -- to make our operations transparent, I think. So being open -- and being inquisitive. Asking questions, I think is so very important.

Mr. Lawrence: Do you think those qualities have changed over time as you reflect back on your 20-some years of experience with government?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: Oh, yes. When I began in government, I think I idealized leaders who told us what to do. I think a leader now must ask what should we do. How do I best meet the customer's needs? I think also it's very important for leaders now to move away from small group think and to move toward community thinking -- engagement with others.

Mr. Lawrence: How so? Does that mean within an organization, or even across the organization?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: Across organizations. Organizations no longer work in isolation. I think probably we learned this most starkly during our Y2K experience. We had no idea how connected and how dependent we were on other agencies -- in the United States Government as a whole, how dependent we were on small and micro-enterprises. So I think we are foolish to think that we work in isolation. Countries now realize that they are so dependent on the smallest countries and the largest countries to advance global markets.

Mr. Lawrence: Okay. Well, great. Well, it's time for break and we will be right back with more of the Business of Government Hour. (Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to the Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and tonight's conversation is with Jacquelyn Williams-Bridgers, Inspector General of the U.S. Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Joining me in the conversation is another PwC partner, Patti Fisher.

Ms. Fisher: Jackie, let's talk more about the role of the IG. I understand that the vision of the IG is to be an independent and objective force for positive change in foreign affairs community. What concrete things do you and your employees do to work towards that vision?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: Patti, probably the greatest challenge that we have in realizing our vision is overcoming the perception that we can be an independent agency, yet at the same time work collaboratively with our agencies. By that I mean that many people perceive that your independence is compromised, your objectivity is compromised. If you sit at the table with principals in an agency and say these are my ideas, this is what we have learned from our past audits, from our inspections of overseas embassies, from our investigations of misconduct. What works? Here are the vulnerabilities that we've seen through past experiences. As we all know, organizations tend to do that which they've done best over time. So it's very difficult for them often times to take a step away from the traditional course. But what we like to do in order to realize positive change, is to say, Here's our best thinking. You make the decision. But here's the results of all of our information before you make decisions, before you commit to new policy, before you commit to new program designs.

I also like the notion that OIG is an educator. We teach what we have learned in the course of our reviews. So most of our auditors, many of our investigators, many of our inspectors participate in all the training sessions at the Department of State. Every junior officer has the benefit of a segment with OIG. Every ambassador, before they leave for posts, has the benefit of a segment with OIG. We tell them where the bright yellow lines are, what mistakes past ambassadors have made that have run them afoul of the law -- and also what we've learned are some best strategies for ambassadors and for future leaders in engaging with their own communities to help mobilize the workforce to achieve their own goals.

Mr. Lawrence: Could you talk a little bit more about the reporting relationships within IG -- who you report to and then how you work with the constituencies because I've heard partnership, but my sense is that there is some tension when people don't automatically listen.

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: Well, that's right. In OIG we don't have a lot of friends all the time. Our reporting relationship by law is to both the Congress and the Secretary of State. In our case, to the Broadcasting Board of Governors. There was no order of that reporting relationship established in the law. It didn't say you report to the Secretary first, or to the Congress first. But the way that we make it work is that we ensure that the Department is never blindsided, that they always have the benefit of first knowledge of what we have found in the course of our work. There is also a certain discretion that should be exercised by the executive branch in making decisions based on what are known problems, or identified problems during the course of our work. But then, as soon as we inform the Department and the BBG, we then inform the Congress in the same fashion, the same level of disclosure that we have had with the Department. There are other constituencies, of course, for the OIG.

There are other agencies -- after all the State Department represents only about 25 percent of U.S. Government presence overseas. There are many other agencies who have a vested interest in insuring the protection of their staff as they work in our embassies. It is our responsibility, as the security oversight arm for all of government, to ensure that all U.S. Government employees, all foreign nationals who work in our embassies are safe. So employees of other agencies that serve tours overseas are also our constituents. Plus the American taxpayer is our constituent. It is our responsibility, our obligation, to get information into the hands of the American public so that they can be well informed and that they can feel certain that their tax dollars are used to advance U.S. foreign policy interests consistent with their own needs.

Ms. Fisher: How have all of the IGs evolved since you joined the government in 1978?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: When Congress established the Offices of Inspector General, they were looking for a voice inside the agencies. Someone that would have developed over the course of time the expertise, the eyes, the ears of the program officials in learning what worked well and what didn't work. I think, initially, the focus was much on the watchdog kind of approach to oversight. Let's play the "gotcha" game. "Aha, we have misspent money. Aha, you have wasted dollars here." After all the Congress wasn't getting that kind of information before the establishment of the IGs until after the fact.

But I think over time, the law that created the IGs -- it said prevent and detect -- has gotten more equal focus. I think IGs now are learning that it is as important for them to be engaged early on, working in collaboration with the agencies, as well as identifying when dollars have been wasted. After all, I think we're much more effective when we've said, "Here's an opportunity not to spend an additional $3, or $4, or $5 million" than it is, "Aha, here, you've wasted that money and lost the opportunity."

Mr. Lawrence: What caused that change?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: I think that it's just a smart way of doing business. I think that the IGs found that they could be more affective if the agencies view them as a free resource. Certainly in all opportunities that I have in meeting with principals, I say, "View me as your free consultant. Why go outside and pay the, you know, several hundred dollars per hour when the appropriations are quite independent. It doesn't cost you a dime, but it certainly can cost in the long run if you don't engage our services."

Mr. Lawrence: You serve on the President's Council on Integrity and Efficiency. Can you tell us more about this group?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: Sure. The PCIE is the forum for the presidentially-appointed Inspectors General to work together and to coordinate on professional activities. So our focus is both those activities, those issues that affect our internal operations, such as human resource development issues, our reporting responsibilities, and, right now, an area of great concern to us is the establishment of a law enforcement authority in law to allow us to work most effectively in the criminal investigative arena. But the PCIE also focuses its attention on government-wide concerns, such as the implementation of the Government Performance Results Act, computer crimes, and tax delinquent debt.

Mr. Lawrence: All right. That's a good place for us to stop now. It's time for a break. We'll be right back with more of the Business of Government Hour. (Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to the Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, and tonight's conversation is with Jacquelyn Williams-Bridgers, Inspector General of the U.S. Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Joining us in our conversation is another PwC partner, Patti Fisher.

Ms. Fisher: Jackie, what qualities does a good Inspector General have?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: I think, as we've talked before about good leaders for the future, certainly an IG is considered a leader of their own organization, but also a leader of change in the agencies that they are looking to serve. But I think probably what I have learned as one of the essential qualities is to be fairly thick-skinned. We are here to give the good news and the bad news. No one really wants to hear the bad news. So I don't take personally people's criticisms of our work, but I just insure that our work meets the test of objectivity and that we've considered all of the varying perspectives that must be brought to bear on any issues -- particularly, as it related to U.S. foreign policy.

Mr. Lawrence: Security at the State Department has received increased attention this past year. What's been the role of the Office of Inspector General in assisting the Department in increasing its security?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: Over the past three years, our office has devoted quite a significant level of resources and attention to security, both on the domestic front and overseas. Overseas, we inspect all of our embassies and, prior to the bombings of our embassies in Das es Salaam and in Nairobi, in August of 1998, our attention on security oversight of our embassies focused on those embassies where the security and intelligence community had identified higher critical threats to terrorism, or technical or human intelligence issues. Now we realize, since the bombings in Africa, that the threats are transnational. After all, the terrorists who bombed our embassies and caused such destruction did not come from within the boundaries of those countries. They came across boundaries.

So we have to look at our security posture in a very different way and we have to realize that the threat is no longer where we traditionally have identified the threat. So, for example, in the course of our security inspections, we want to insure that our embassies are prepared for crises. In the course of an inspection, we will ring the fire alarm, we'll ring the select home system for bombs -- to see if people know what to do. All too often we find that our people don't, because we just haven't prepared as we should to react quickly and responsibly. We check to insure that the locks are in place on our doors and that our structures will withstand a bomb from several feet away. We check to insure that people have procedures in place to destroy documents.

Also, the Office of Inspector General has engaged the expertise of our auditors, as well as our security experts, to provide very dedicated oversight over the Department's use of the $2 billion it has received over the past couple of years for emergency security enhancement of our embassies. So we're looking to see whether or not management controls are in place, whether or not the funds are being spent well, whether or not we're recruiting and training the types of expertise that we now need in order to fend off potential harm to our embassies. We're also looking to ensure that the embassies that are being rebuilt, that have been rebuilt in Das es Salaam and Nairobi were built safely and securely. So we are there on the ground to ensure brick by brick that we are doing it right the first time around.

Ms. Fisher: The mission of the OIG to propose innovative ideas and constructive solutions and affect positive change -- could you please give us some examples of what were some of the innovative ideas and constructive solutions that you came up with and implemented at the Department?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: Certainly. In terms of constructive solutions, I'll give the example of a security oversight review at one of our embassies -- our embassy in Monrovia. Our security inspectors were out. The expectation is that they will tell the embassy, tell the regional security officer, 'Here's where some gates need shoring up here, some locks need protecting," but our embassies were short-handed, so our security inspectors got on the ground, dug the holes and put the concrete around the fences outside of our embassy. The OIG inspectors did this in order to insure that the gates were strong. One week after our inspectors left, our gates were rammed by criminals on the street and the gates held. They protected our people. For me, OIG -- this is not the normal course of business, but when there are opportunities for us to make a difference, we take advantage of it and do it.

Also, within the security posture, we recommended to the Department that our people in our embassies practice duck and cover. I'm old enough to remember having drills when I was in elementary school. In anticipation of a raid or bombing, we practiced going to our gym and kneeling on our knees and putting our hands over our heads. This is the same as what we're expecting from our embassy personnel now. What we learned in Dar and Nairobi -- so many people were killed and maimed by the flying glass because their natural reaction when they heard the signal signifying that a bomb was about to go off was to go to the windows to look to see. What we have been encouraging the Department -- and the Department has, in fact, adopted, given our recommendation, is to run, to get cover, to get away from the windows. These are practical solutions that OIG should be making and must continue to make to the Department.

Innovative ideas, I think, internally, within the OIG -- we're looking to realign our structure. We have traditionally been organized around what I call our stovepipes -- our office of audits, our office of inspections, our office of investigations -- but we know now, just as the rest of the world knows, that you can't work in stovepipes, that you have to take advantage of the expertise wherever it resides in an organization, and bring it to bear on issues. So we are refocusing our organizational structure around what we consider to be the strategic issues that the Department and the Congress will face in the foreign affairs community and making best use of our staff, be they an auditor, an investigator, or a foreign service officer, to bring to bear on the development of our recommendations.

Mr. Lawrence: Give us a sense of just the tactical applications of what you've just described. You've talked about a wide mission and a geographic span. How many people are in OIG and where are they?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: We are significantly under-staffed in order to achieve our global mission. Let me make that clear. We have about 250 people. We are all residents in Washington, but the global nature of our mission demands extensive travel for our staff. So, for example, our inspectors who were tasked with oversight of every mission -- all 260 posts overseas -- they're on the road about 30 weeks out of the year.

Ms. Fisher: The OIG has a hotline. Can you tell us about that and does that extend to the countries overseas?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: Yes. The hotline is a telephone service with an 800 number that provides easy access to the OIG. It leverages the presence that we have here in Washington to the world. It is manned with a live voice during business hours, but we'll record the voice of anyone anywhere in the world that chooses to inform us that they believe that there has been some fraud, waste, or abuse committed in the Department programs. We think it's a very successful operation in that it allows people -- even if they choose to be anonymous -- to have touch, some touch with the OIG. Of course, we prefer people to leave a name so that we might follow up and obtain as much information from them as possible. But I think it's a highly effective tool and one, in fact, I've talked with other countries about instituting.

Mr. Lawrence: How does OIG use technology to be responsive to the needs of your constituents?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: We've used it in a number of different ways. Given the overseas nature of our mission, we use digital video conferencing, which, for a State Department, is a fairly new technological event. We've used it to communicate with foreign governments, to share with them the work that we do in our office. We used WorldNet television, which broadcasts into our embassies, to have colloquies with three or four countries -- officials, representatives, and Washington -- on select issues. During the Y2K preparations, we had monthly discussions with auditors from around the world about practical ways of preparing for the turnover at the millennium. What do you audit? How do you develop the audit designs and program evaluation designs? What organizations should you connect with to ensure that there is continuity of operations?

Ms. Fisher: The Office of the Inspector General also conducts outreach programs to support foreign governments. Could you tell us about how you go about that and how that affects improving efficiency and transparency of their governmental operations?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: I'm quite proud that our Office of Inspector General had the vision to reach out to other governments. It was a reaction to foreign governments coming to us saying that they had seen on the World Wide Web the Office of Inspector General report and were quite intrigued by the disclosure of our audits and inspections and investigations of government officials.

Mr. Lawrence: Let me get you to hold that answer because we've got to go to a break. We'll be right back with more of the Business of Government Hour. (Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to the Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers, and tonight's conversation is with Jacquelyn Williams-Bridgers, Inspector General of the U.S. Department of State and the Broadcasting Board of Governors. Joining me is another is another PwC partner, Patti Fisher.

Well, Jackie, I cut you off before we went to break and you were just talking the foreign outreach you did.

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: The OIG's foreign outreach is designed to assist the Department of State in advancing U.S. foreign policy interests in areas such as the rule of law, building democracies overseas, and promoting economic prosperity. What we know very well is that when corruption exists, when civil servants and leaders of governments decide to line their pockets with the assets that have been obtained by the very hard efforts of growing democracies, it eats away at that economic progress. What the United States has learned full well, is that institutionalizing internal oversight mechanisms such as the OIG helps to guard against that waste and abuse in government. So our office is looking to share with our governments who are reaching out to learn how best to build these sorts of internal oversight mechanisms in government. What we share with them are: an understanding about the differences in the legal frameworks in which we must work, and the government structures in which we must work, and the cultural differences. After all, in some countries it is expected that you give gifts to those who award business opportunities to you. But, at the same time, we know that there is a very clear line between a simple gift to say, "Thank you" and the gift to say, "May I operate in your country?"

So we are taking great pride in working very closely with a few governments to exchange our practices, to exchange our policies, to have dialogue about what has worked well in the course of past audits, how we collaborate with our agencies, how we engage the public through hotlines and the like in the fight against corruption. It's a very exciting time for us to be doing that.

Mr. Lawrence: What are the most pressing technology challenges facing OIG and the Department of State today?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: Well, probably one of the most pressing challenges is to make best use of the Internet while at the same time taking into consideration security needs that we have in our community. We still, in the Department of State, do not have desktop access to the Internet for every employee. In fact, in OIG, I probably have one freestanding computer that has Internet access for every 25 or 30 people in our organization because of our concerns about security. We also need to bridge the communications gap with other agencies, especially overseas. Many of our employees that work for the Department of State in an embassy can't easily communicate on a computer with other agencies that are in the next office in our chanceries overseas.

I think also that we have to look at how to maintain current technology on both our classified and our unclassified networks. Our embassies overseas become frustrated quite honestly, and they look to the local market to procure software when we can't keep pace with their needs. So we need to insure that we can manage software acquisition and development to meet local needs at the pace at which they require it.

I think the Department also has to step up to the plate and realize that it has a role in bridging the digital divide that exists in the world among those nations that have and those that don't have the technology access. I don't think that we have quite made our place at the table yet on that issue. I think the Department also has to realize how it is going to protect its infrastructure from a malevolent insider. After all, we know that most of the harm that can come to us comes from inattention to procedures, or just willful mal-intent to cause destruction and confusion inside our agencies.

I think the Department also has to deal with the proliferation of the hand-held personal digital device. People are using technology to best meet their needs and it has always not kept pace with our security posture. So the Department has to come to grips with how to best use that.

Ms. Fisher: Jackie, you spoke about the role of technology and how important it is at the State Department, as well as in the OIG's job. What role do you hope it will play going forward into the future?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: I hope that the American public is able to receive the services that they need much more efficiently and much more responsive from the U.S. Government in the future -- the U.S. Government making better use of technology. The idea of one-stop shopping for government services is something that we need to aggressively pursue. I just don't think that there has been the centralized focus kind of effort in the U.S. government that we need quite yet.

Mr. Lawrence: When you think about the future of the State Department, what do you think will be the major challenges the Department will face?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: I hope that the Department receives significant budget increases in the near future. The challenge for them is how to make best use of a huge infusion of dollars that they haven't seen for far too long. I think that the Department will have to deal with the challenge of a changing workforce. We have just had a meeting yesterday where we discussed the changing nature of the foreign service. In cases where you have two people -- a couple - and both parties work, how do you accommodate that in a very small embassy where you may only have a handful of Americans working? The issue of nepotism looms large in consideration. How do you insure that there are correct reporting lines?

Also for the Department of State it's how to get a better handle on our overseas presence. Although we are one of the agencies with a very -- with the smallest presence in terms of numbers of people, we are responsible for ensuring coordination and oversight over all U.S. Government elements overseas.

Given the terrorists threat that exists throughout the world, we have to determine where we need to have a presence, where U.S. foreign policy interests loom large that necessitate our presence -- the Department, the Secretary, the administration has committed to a universal presence, but how do we accommodate that objective, and at the same time insure that our people are safe where they work -- and people who work for us, foreign nationals, who choose to work for the United States Government are safe where they work?

Mr. Lawrence: What advice would you have for somebody who perhaps aspires to be an IG? How would I know if I want to be that and what should I be doing now?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: I think if you enjoy an opportunity to exercise independence of thought, if you enjoy the opportunity to gather as much information -- to look at issues from a variety of different perspectives -- and if you believe that you can effect a change, then the IG is probably one of the very best positions in government to have and to aspire to.

Mr. Lawrence: How about for up and coming federal government employees? I mean, based on what you've seen in terms of successes, or skills, or people who've done very well versus, perhaps, people who haven't?

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: Obtain a broad base of experience. Although I spent much of my career in the General Accounting Office, I moved around quite a lot across government agencies, evaluating the programs and activities of government agencies. That allowed me to come to understand not only the legislative process, but also how federal, state, local governments interact. How the private sector interacts with government - certainly in the transportation arena, in the housing-community development arena, the increased interface of government with private sector - was a terrific learning experience.

But I also think just asking questions and being inquisitive and being more concerned about how others do their business, rather than how I can necessarily get my agenda across, is so very important.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, Patti and I want to thank you, Jackie. We're out of time, but we appreciate you spending this evening with us. Thank you very much.

Ms. Williams-Bridgers: Thank you very much, Paul and Patti. It's been my pleasure.

Mr. Lawrence: This has been the Business of Government Hour, Conversations with Government Leaders. I'm Paul Lawrence, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and the co-chair of The PricewaterhouseCoopers Endowment for The Business of Government.

To learn more about The Endowment's programs and research and some new approaches to improving government effectiveness, visit us on the web at See you next week.

Jacquelyn L. Williams-Bridgers interview
Jacquelyn L. Williams-Bridgers

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