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.

Jim McEntire interview

Friday, March 4th, 2005 - 20:00
Phrase: 
"Constant attention, constant conversation, and constant internal check ups are really the key to staying green on the PMA scorecard. You should never rest on your laurels-there is always a way to improve productivity and efficiency of a program."
Radio show date: 
Sat, 03/05/2005
Guest: 
Intro text: 
Financial Management; Managing for Performance and Results...

Financial Management; Managing for Performance and Results

Complete transcript: 

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Arlington, Virginia

Mr. Lawrence: Good morning, and welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, partner in charge 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 Radio Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our special guest this morning is Jim McEntire, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Performance Planning at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Good morning, Jim.

Mr. McEntire: Good morning, Paul. Nice to be here.

Mr. Lawrence: Thank you for joining us.

Also joining us in our conversation from IBM is Jonathan Breul.

Good morning, Jonathan.

Mr. Breul: Good morning.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, Jim, let's start by giving our listeners an overview of the Department of Labor and the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management. Tell us about its mission.

Mr. McEntire: The Department of Labor exists to prepare and protect the nation's workforce, in a short sentence. We're about trying to position the U.S. economy through its workforce for tomorrow's economy, to protect people and prepare people for today's economy as well. It's a here and now mission and a get ready-for the economy after next kind of a mission. It's pretty exciting.

Mr. Lawrence: And the Office of Administration and Management?

Mr. McEntire: Administration and Management does everything that you might want to think of as overhead, except for financial management, which belongs to the chief financial officer's office. We do the HR, human resources; the IT, budgeting; the planning, both strategic and current-year planning; and all of the soup-to-nuts kinds of things that go with taking care of the Department and enabling the programs to perform their function and carry out their mission.

Mr. Lawrence: How about your office; a sense of the size, the people, and the skill set?

Mr. McEntire: My office has two parts: the classic government budget office, and the other part of it has to do with strategic and performance planning. All total, there's about 67 68 people, and my budget is about $11.5 million for this current fiscal year. We handle all of the centralized planning and corporate planning functions for the entire department, not to say that everything is involved in my little orbit. Each one of the constituent agencies of the Labor Department, of course, has a budget office, and a planning office, and that sort of thing. But we're the corporate planners, as it were, for the Secretary and the corporate budgeters; the connection point with the Department and OMB; the connection point, largely, between the Department and the appropriation subcommittees, and that sort of thing.

Mr. Lawrence: Tell us about your roles and responsibility as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Performance Planning.

Mr. McEntire: My specific role is to coordinate between the two, to make sure that the planners are talking to the budgeters and vice versa; to make sure that everything is coordinated well for the internal decision making and discussion of performance and things budget inside the Department; to make sure that at my level, things are coordinated with the other deputy assistant secretaries that are my peers throughout the Department; to basically just superintend the processes of corporate planning and corporate budgeting and getting the Secretary the best service possible for those functions inside the Department.

Mr. Breul: Jim, part of your responsibility is implementing the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993. Can you give us some insights into GPRA and how this impacts a government agency like yours?

Mr. McEntire: GPRA to me is not necessarily about writing reports or writing plans; it's about a discipline process of managing performance, managing the value proposition of any government entity. Personally, I can't think of a better way to run a large public enterprise than the framework that's represented by GPRA. It just makes an awful lot of common sense to define where you're going in terms of the end state that you want to achieve, and systematically over time lay out some steps as to how you're going to get there, and then determine the resources that you need to carry out each one of those steps over that time span. GPRA, to sum it up in terms of how it appears to me, is just a systematized way of doing your business and achieving the value for the taxpayer that give you their tax dollars to achieve.

Mr. Breul: Well, prior to becoming Deputy Assistant Secretary, you've had an interesting career in public service. Can you describe some of your previous positions?

Mr. McEntire: I started out in 1968 as an 18 year old cadet at the Coast Guard Academy; spent the next 32 some-odd years in the Coast Guard; commanded several ships over that time period. Probably a little over half of the 28 year period when I was a commissioned officer was spent at sea or on ships. The rest of the time, I was ashore in various staff jobs in Washington, one time in Miami, and one time in Seattle, in various and sundry things. I had a very eclectic career in military personnel and aids to navigation, which is the way that the Coast Guard enables vessel traffic to get into and out of ports safely and that sort of thing. The last several years of my time was spent here in Washington, both as the budget officer for the Coast Guard and then as a strategic planner for the Coast Guard, all of which set me up nicely for what I didn't know would turn out to be my second career in budgeting and performance, and that sort of thing.

When I retired from the Coast Guard, I became the GPRA planner for the Department of Transportation in the DOT Budget Office. I was sort of at the apex of the pyramid of corporate planning as the principal staff person for the Assistant Secretary and CFO that watched over budget and programs at DOT. I was, in essence, the coordinator, compiler, and writer/editor of the Department's annual performance plan and performance report.

From there, I was fortunate to get hired on at the Labor Department, first of all as the GPRA coordinator there in charge of a small staff, and then very recently, last September, became the Deputy Assistant Secretary of both Budget and Performance Planning, as we had indicated earlier. So I've had a sort of long sordid history of budgeting, management, administration, and performance, and that sort of thing at many different levels of several different, really interesting organizations.

Mr. Breul: How have these previous roles helped you prepare for your current role as Deputy Assistant Secretary? Do you have some examples or specific situations that have taught you some important lessons?

Mr. McEntire: The one thing that stands out in my mind is in Seattle when I was in charge of the administration of a large Coast Guard region there, and was making the organizational transition between accomplishing all the administrative functions in that organization, and transitioning those functions from one organization to another was kind of like a friendly takeover internal to the Coast Guard. As the Coast Guard tried to realign itself and streamline itself in a fairly stringent resource environment, the one thing that we required focus on, above all else, was keeping our customers in mind, making sure that we provided the level of service that they had grown accustomed to and needed while we were in the midst of that organizational transition.

So the one thing that I try to keep uppermost in my mind today is the fact that we serve customers. We, the Labor Department, we the government, serve the American taxpayer, the American citizen. Their needs are paramount and uppermost, and sometimes it's easy to lose your grip on that here in Washington when you're having the kinds of conversations that we have in this town. But that's the thing that is the most important to keep in mind as we're going through whatever our daily toil is.

Mr. Lawrence: You talked about doing budget and performance planning at Coast Guard and now at Labor. How similar or different are the two environments?

Mr. McEntire: Hugely different in mission, and very much the same in terms of the internal things that have got to go on to manage that mission. Missions get done by programs, and programs don't work unless they have good people that are well-trained, well motivated, and competent at what they do. So the enabling things that my organization and the Labor Department do are really no different than any other large organization that has to have an awful lot of internal coordination and internal conversation about how to get things done.

Missions differ, but internal processes are the same. You've got to plan your activities. You've got to properly resource them. You've got to properly take care of the folks that accomplish those missions, bring them on board, train them, take care of them as they transition out of your organization, that sort of thing. So it's very, very much similar to what one would find in my position in any organization, I think. The conversation differs because of the differences between the missions of different organizations.

Mr. Lawrence: That was an interesting framework about the mission, the programs, and the similarities.

How is the Department of Labor addressing the President's management agenda, especially in the area of budget and performance integration? We'll ask Jim McEntire of the Department of Labor take us through this when The Business of Government Hour continues.

(Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, and this morning's conversation is with Jim McEntire, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Performance Planning at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Joining us in our conversation is Jonathan Breul.

Jim, let's start by talking about the President's management agenda. Could you give us an overview of how the Department is working on the five government wide initiatives?

Mr. McEntire: Sure. We have apportioned responsibility for each one of the five main government wide initiatives between the relevant assistant secretaries. It so happens the way that the Labor Department is organized, Pat Pizzella, my boss, leads four of those initiatives, and the CFO, chief financial officer, Sam Mok, of course leads the financial management piece of the President's management agenda. So we have really focused a lot on making sure that folks are accountable for whatever we've designed for ourselves to do to accomplish these five management agenda initiatives of the President.

Mr. Lawrence: How have you scored against these initiatives?

Mr. McEntire: Recently, we've enjoyed a lot of success in achieving a green score for four out of the five. Competitive sourcing is the one where the status score for the Department is yellow. But we've been working very closely with OMB over the months and we'll continue to do so, and are confident that we can turn that score to green as well as we march down the plan that we've negotiated with OMB to achieve green status in that as well.

Mr. Breul: Let's focus specifically on the Budget and Performance Integration Initiative. What are some of the details of this particular effort?

Mr. McEntire: The Budget and Performance Initiative to me, at its most succinct, is all about making decisions on a more well informed basis; program and resource decisions on a more well informed basis; policy decisions as well. The specific pieces of that involve the Department's planning process, both the strategic and current-year performance planning process; the reporting or feedback process, where you assess how well you've done against what you plan to do in a particular year; as well as on a couple of different aspects of how well you know your cost structure, whether you can determine what it costs to do a particular thing and the management of that cost over time, to either hold it constant in an inflationary environment or maybe even drive the cost down to achieve whatever result you achieve in a more efficient way. That's saying an awful lot.

Mr. Breul: What are some of the key elements in Deputy Secretary Law's Proud To Be Initiative?

Mr. McEntire: Deputy Secretary Law's initiative really tracks closely, as you might well expect, the standards in the President's management agenda for achieving green status, in budget and performance integration in particular. He basically has just charged each one of the constituent agencies of the Labor Department to work together to have an ongoing conversation about managing performance. It's not a one shot deal as we all imagine; that it is not. Managing performance is a day to day affair. You have to come together once in a while, either monthly or quarterly, as we're trying to do. We have done semi annual performance review and performance conversation in the Department, but we're changing that to a quarterly conversation and internal reporting process so that we sample ourselves a little bit more often and are then able to deal with problems on a bit more timely basis as that conversation goes forward.

It's really about managing performance as a process, and attending to the data kinds of things, all the blocking and tackling of performance, basically, to use a sports metaphor; to look at the data that we've got to make sure that we've got accurate and timely data, and where it's not accurate or timely, to figure out a plan to get it so; and to focus, as I said, periodically on what those data mean are we on track, off track, ahead of schedule, on schedule, behind, et cetera. So it's nothing more than an implementation plan, at a fairly high level, of the kinds of things that we need to do to manage our programs well, to make sure that they're accomplishing what they need to accomplish on this performance journey to the end of the strategic planning horizon, and to then understand our costs and make sure that we're managing the costs of our programs' performance as well as the performance itself.

Mr. Breul: Let's explore that in a little more detail. Can you give us an illustration of why there's a clear need to focus on budget and performance integration within the Department?

Mr. McEntire: Getting back to something I said earlier, it's all about making decisions on a better informed basis. The resource environment that we're in right now is sort of a constrained, deficit reduction resource environment. And no one of us has any argument with that whatsoever. It's necessary to manage the overall government's cost in a downward way. In that kind of an environment, management takes on even more importance; to understand exactly where you need to deploy the next dollar because dollars are scarce, and therefore very precious. If you can free up dollars that you have in your hands today because you've made yourself more productive or more efficient, that gives you a dollar that you have in hand right now that you can redeploy to one of the priorities that the Department has.

In doing that, it gives us a lot better basis to go forward to OMB in the annual budget request. We can explain the need for the dollars that we have or that we want in a much more rational, coherent and convincing way instead of speculating on what we think might happen. Getting the resources that we asked for, we can point to past successes or past problems that we need to fix that involve resource questions and that sort of thing. So integrating the whole conversation of performance management and resource management gives one a lot better standpoint to understand where one is, and where one needs to go, and how one needs to get to where one needs to go over time.

Mr. Breul: An important premise of the budget and performance integration effort is that programs that do well should be continued and nurtured, while programs that do not perform well should be phased out or fixed. In what ways are you measuring programs' performance in this regard?

Mr. McEntire: We have over the years, through the GPRA thought process, come up with a fairly good set, and limited set, of performance objectives. We are dependent largely on states for our performance data, and that's probably no different than most cabinet departments. I know it's no different than the Department of Transportation, where I was before.

Very few things get done totally inside the federal government. The FAA and DOT is a good example of an internal government service that gets provided. Most things that get done in the federal government get done at the state level or at least in some sort of partnership between different levels of government. We have spent a lot of time and a good bit of money over the years trying to make sure that our state partners and local partners have good data that they can share with us, so that we can understand on a fairly timely basis how we're doing in performance.

Data is the foundation upon which is built good performance measures. You have to understand what your objective is, as I said a little bit earlier, to understand what sort of performance metrics needs not to devise to figure out how well you're doing against what you need to get done in the real world or in the outside world. It's a process of continual improvement. I think we all got off to a bit of a rocky start in the '90s when we were first doing GPRA. We've gotten a lot better over time.

One thing that has helped, I think, is the focus on interagency performance measures. OMB asked agencies with similar programs to develop what was termed "common measures," where let's say the Education Department, the Veterans Administration, and the Labor Department everybody with a job training or job preparation kind of a program would use the same metrics; things like, did people enter employment, and what was the rate at which people entered employment after they got done with a job training program; what was their salary replacement if they were between jobs, they had gotten laid off and were retraining to a different skill set so that they could get a job in a different industry; and at what rate did they replace their salary; and did they stay employed after a period of time, after they had entered employment.

So those kind of measures are sort of standard metrics in use across several different government agencies, and it helps decision-makers in OMB, and I'm sure at the White House, determine where to invest that next dollar; which programs work the best that are serving similar populations. Differentiation is okay because the American workforce is a widely diverse population. There is nothing standard about the American workforce. There are different demographics, there are different regions, there are different industries, and all of that. So program differentiation is a good thing, but determining which are the things that work best and replicating them in those different regions or different demographic segments are really key toward improving the overall performance of the business that we're in, and the Labor Department and the Education Department folks that have similar programs.

Mr. Lawrence: It's an interesting point, especially about common measures across the agencies.

How does one stay green on the PMA score card? We'll ask Jim McEntire of the Department of Labor to explain this to us when our conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, and this morning's conversation is with Jim McEntire, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Performance Planning at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Joining us in our conversation is Jonathan Breul.

Well, Jim, at the end of the last segment, you were talking about the use of data, and I'm curious. How is the Department of Labor using data to move away from output-oriented goals and moving towards outcome-oriented goals?

Mr. McEntire: With an awful lot of hard work. Outcome based performance goals require an awful lot of thinking, creative thinking to be specific. One must put one's self in the customer seat to try to understand what it is that the customer needs from your particular program. In our case, let's say for instance it's a worker in a mine. That miner needs to understand that there is a process in place to make sure it's safe go to into the mine and work in the mine, and that sort of thing. So the Mine Safety and Health Administration, of course, has an extensive understanding of what it takes to be safe in a mine, the kinds of machinery, the sort of maintenance, the attention that needs to be paid to proper ventilation and all those kinds of things that I've never experienced myself.

But outcomes are a customer centric approach to performance planning. You've got to figure out what it is that customers value and need, and attend to the actual reason for the existence of the program in the first place. A good place to always look is the instruction manual; i.e., the statutes that created the program in the first place. There's generally a set of findings, or a statement of purpose, or an objective statement in the statutes that's been, in my experience in government, pretty durable. Problems are not easily solved that the federal government tries to attend to, and they tend to be pretty persistent and need constant attention.

So from a statutory and a customer based standpoint, the path is generally pretty clear in devising a set of measurements that get right to the heart of whatever issue it is that you're trying to solve or problem that you're trying to attend to. As I spoke of earlier, data is generally a limitation on outcome kind of things. Outcomes, in some cases, are pretty immediate. You can tell whether an airplane took off and landed safely in a pretty timely way. The FAA is up against that all the time.

In some places in government, particularly on the social goods or public goods side of government, it takes an awful long time to figure out what exactly happened. You may do something today, and the effect of it doesn't show up for a period of months or even years. Let's just say a person goes into a job training program, that person may not graduate for some months to come. It may take that person yet more months or weeks to find a job after that preparation is done with. That may straddle at least two fiscal years, maybe in some cases three fiscal years, if you're looking for how long that person stayed employed after getting employed. So understanding the time relationship between what we do today and what happens in reality eventually is an important aspect of understanding how you set up your measurement scheme, and what sorts of things you need to measure so that you get some immediate feedback.

I tend to think of measurement as being a family or hierarchy of measures. The top of the pyramid, of course, is a set of outcome based measures. But unless outcomes are immediate, you need an intermediate step in there someplace so that you can understand how to adjust the management of a program or a family of programs that seeks to achieve that outcome. You need to vary your measurement scheme depending on what it is that you're trying to focus on at the moment, whether it's program management or determining whether or not you've been effective over the long haul in achieving the strategic objectives of the Department over years, and the data of course follow that measurement scheme.

Program managers as individuals need to keep the long view in mind, and they do. But they need things that they can get their hands around on a daily basis. In that sense, outputs are rather important, because program managers manage mostly to outputs; that's what they're in direct control of. The outputs over time -- sometimes several different programs acting together -- sum up to an outcome over time that you report on annually. But understanding the nature of the program, the rhythms and cycles of it, the annual fiscal year resource planning process and that sort of thing, is really important to devise that measurement scheme that's going to be useful to you and useful to decision makers, not only in the executive office of the President, but also in Congress. They're the ultimate customers, as it strikes me, of what we do, because they're the people's representatives. They're the board of directors, as it were, that tell us whether or not we're achieving the things that need to be accomplished over time.

Mr. Breul: Let's shift gears a bit and talk about the Department's progress. As of December 31, 2004, OMB's executive branch management scorecard, the traffic light system, shows that the Department of Labor is one of only eight agencies to receive a green in budget and performance integration. What were some of the steps that you took to get a green on the scorecard?

Mr. McEntire: Again, an awful lot of hard work went into that. Step one is to understand what you're about. So a good strategic plan and I think the Labor Department has an excellent strategic plan is really the key starting point. If you don't have the end in mind that's proper for what you're trying to accomplish in accordance with the statutes that give you your existence, you're off on the wrong foot to begin with. So getting a good strategic plan and a good limited set of strategic objectives articulated clearly is key.

The next one is and the Labor Department has evolved over time, as did the Department of Transportation to devise a limited set of outcome based measures so that you can understand where you are on that journey from today into tomorrow in a strategic sense. That has taken some time to shake those down and sift them in the Labor Department over the years as we've got better at performance planning and that sort of thing. But outcome based measures are key toward getting a good status score in the budget and performance integration.

The next piece of it is to understand and be able to articulate clearly the level of resources that need to go into that. That's where the real trick is, to understand what OMB calls the "marginal cost of performance," which is, if performance today costs Y, what do you need to add to Y to get at least that much difference in increased performance next year, or the year beyond, or what have you. Understanding the cost structure and the resource flows that fuel performance is really key. We have struggled with that, quite frankly, in the Labor Department, to understand that relationship, because in our business, there's a fairly distinct time delay between the expenditure of a dollar and its showing up in performance over time.

Mr. Breul: These were some of the steps you took to get to green on the scorecard. How does the Department of Labor plan to stay green and not slip back, especially in the budget and performance integration effort?

Mr. McEntire: A key piece of that is to focus on the recommendations of the parts the program assessment, rating tool assessments that OMB has jointly with us accomplished over the last three years, and we're just about to embark on the fourth year of that, or the fourth cycle of that. Those recommendations that have come out of that process need to be attended to because they're all based on improving the performance results of that particular program. So that's a key piece of staying green.

The other piece of it is just never rest on your laurels. There's always a way to improve productivity and improve efficiency of a program to drive the cost of doing business down or keep it constant in an inflationary environment. So constant attention, constant conversation, constant internal checking up on where we are is really the key to staying green.

Mr. Lawrence: That's interesting about staying green.

What are the government wide implications for budget and performance integration? We'll ask Jim McEntire of the Department of Labor for his perspective when our conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.

(Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, and this morning's conversation is with Jim McEntire, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Performance Planning at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Joining us in our conversation is Jonathan Breul.

Mr. Breul: Jim, what are some of the important lessons learned that you have learned working on the President's management agenda and the Budget and Performance Integration Initiative in particular?

Mr. McEntire: The real big lesson I've learned, Jonathan, is that you have to have a plan to get to green, or to achieve whatever program and performance objective. The right people have to be accountable for executing or carrying out that plan. That's just basic blocking and tackling of good management. And if you have a bunch of committed, motivated, competent people, there's no end of what you can get done if what needs to be done is clear to them, and the steps in arriving at that objective are clear. Follow-up is essential. You have to have an ongoing conversation at senior levels in any large government organization, all the way down to the deck plates, to use an old sailor term. Everybody's got to understand what needs to be done and how that's to be accomplished, and there's got to be some feedback to the top so that the senior folks in the Department, all the way up to Secretary Chao, understands that progress is being made in the way that it needs to be made. So personal accountability for organizational performance is really the key objective to getting anything done.

Mr. Breul: What advice can you give to other government executives trying to implement a get to green strategy on the PMA?

Mr. McEntire: My best advice to those that are trying to improve is to understand clearly the standards for success that OMB lays out for us all, and to have the conversation as to clarifying those standards with your counterparts in OMB. Understand and share that understanding with OMB of what you need to accomplish and when that needs to be accomplished by. Set up all the right organizations and teams and so forth internal to the Department that need to be done.

At the Labor Department, as a long standing practice, the senior political leadership of the Department get together formally once a month in what's called the Management Review Board, to go over all the things that attend to managing the Department, be it the President's management agenda, programs, or just whatever, whatever the range of management topics are. At a lower level, at the working level staff level we've created several different cross cutting teams that go department-wide. The one that I'm most familiar with in the Labor Department is the Strategic and Performance Planning Work Group, SPPWG for short, which meets monthly to go over all the things that need to be done to accomplish the right things for budget and performance integration; having a clear definition of roles; understanding who's on first and what's on second in terms of responsibility.

To go back to something I said earlier; the key part of improving your status or progress grades on the executive scorecard is to arrive at an understanding with your OMB counterparts on what needs to be done and when, and enlisting their help, because they can be very, very helpful. Enlist their help, get them on your team, and make them a part of your ongoing conversation and make them a part of your ongoing process.

Mr. Breul: You've gotten a green on OMB's scorecard. What comes next? What's your future vision on budget and performance integration government wide?

Mr. McEntire: Government wide, I would think the overall end state is to improve at the same time the overall effectiveness of government and the efficiency of government. The taxpayers should expect of us our best in terms of the use of their dollars to achieve the things that they need to have achieved in the U.S. economy, the U.S. position in the world, and that sort of thing. That sounds a bit idealistic, but it's very true at an instinctive working level inside of each and every department; to understand what your costs are; to understand clearly where you want to go; to understand clearly how you need to get there and the detailed steps that need to be accomplished to do all the right kind of studies and research, which we haven't really talked about an awful lot today; to understand clearly how things connect in the real world, what actually does happen when a government agency does something. Do we understand clearly the effect that that action produces and can we replicate that? Can we find who is the best in government to accomplish a particular thing? And then reward that program and those people with the ability to do more? And last, to really understand what it takes to be effective in any given endeavor at any given level of resources, and to be able to accurately predict the outcome that ensues from spending a dollar today.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, Jim, you described in the first segment a long career as a public service, first in the Coast Guard and the Department of Labor. I'd like you to reflect for a minute on following up on Jonathan's question about advice what advice would you give to perhaps a young person interested in a career in public service?

Mr. McEntire: My best advice is, if the notion of being a part of something that's larger than yourself appeals to you, then there's no better place than in public service to realize those aspirations. That's the one thing that's always been at the core of myself in terms of the things that I want to accomplish in my own life. I want to be a part of a team that tries to accomplish big things.

There are many, of course, places in the private sector where one can accomplish big things, but doing that on behalf of other people and serving the public's interest can really only be done in government, I think. That's my particular view; others might take issue with that. But in terms of the way I look at it, being a part of something that's larger than one's self and trying to do things that really do change the world, those opportunities are best found in government.

There are many opportunities in any federal cabinet agency to do that kind of work. If someone wants to look at the Labor Department to see how the U.S. workforce supports the U.S. economy, one can click on to the Department of Labor's website, www.dol.gov, and see the wide range of things that we do. They can do that with any cabinet department. I'm kind of partial to the Labor Department, of course, because that's where I work. There are lots of good, interesting and fun things that can be done in the federal government. I've had a blast over my 30-plus years in government. I wouldn't trade that for anything in the world.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, I'm afraid that will have to be our last question, Jim. Jonathan and I want to thank you for joining us this morning.

Mr. McEntire: Thank you, Paul and Jonathan. I really have certainly enjoyed being here. If one wants to look at the Labor Department in particular and the good work that the Labor Department does, click on to www.dol.gov; results.gov is also a good place to compare our success stories with others across government. If one wants to look at the entire federal government, that's a great place to start as well.

Mr. Lawrence: Thank you, Jim.

This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Jim McEntire, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Performance Planning at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Be sure and visit us on the Web at www.businessofgovernment.org. There, you will learn about our programs and research and get a transcript of today's conversation. Once again, that's www.businessofgovernment.org.

For The Business of Government Hour, I'm Paul Lawrence. Thank you for listening.

Jim McEntire interview
03/05/2005
"Constant attention, constant conversation, and constant internal check ups are really the key to staying green on the PMA scorecard. You should never rest on your laurels-there is always a way to improve productivity and efficiency of a program."

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