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.

Patrick Pizzella interview

Friday, November 15th, 2002 - 20:00
Phrase: 
Managing for Performance and Results; Financial Management; Leadership; Collaboration: Networks and Partnerships; Strategic Thinking; Human Capital Management...
Radio show date: 
Sat, 11/16/2002
Guest: 
Intro text: 
Managing for Performance and Results; Financial Management; Leadership; Collaboration: Networks and Partnerships; Strategic Thinking; Human Capital Management...

Managing for Performance and Results; Financial Management; Leadership; Collaboration: Networks and Partnerships; Strategic Thinking; Human Capital Management

Complete transcript: 

Friday, November 1, 2002

Arlington, Virginia

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, the co-chairman of The IBM Endowment for The Business of 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 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 conversation this morning is with Patrick Pizzella. Patrick is the assistant secretary for administration and management and the chief information officer of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Good morning, Patrick.

Mr. Pizzella: Good morning.

Mr. Lawrence: And joining us in our conversation is Morgan Kinghorn.

Mr. Kinghorn: Good morning, Paul.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, Pat, let's begin by setting some context. What functions does the office of the assistant secretary for management and administration perform?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, the Department of Labor, for the benefit of your listening audience, is a $56 billion, 17,000-person/employee department, with 568 locations spread out across the country.

The assistant secretary for administration and management handles several functions there. One has to do with the budget development for the Department, human resources function of the Department; administrative services, dealing with things that go on actually inside the building; mail management, and some of the sort of nuts and bolts things of a government agency; information technology. And we also supervise the Civil Rights Center, which makes sure that recipients of financial assistance that the Department provides to the citizens is being done in an equitable way.

Mr. Lawrence: How big is your team, and what type skills do they have? You described such a wide range of activities.

Mr. Pizzella: The right people are in the right jobs I guess is what I'll say. They have a variety of skills. The professional staff has a terrific background to accomplish the tasks and missions of the Department. And administration management is really a service part of the Department. We really work more with our fellow employees and my fellow assistant secretaries than we work with our recipients of federal aid or the other people we serve in America.

Mr. Lawrence: And what are your specific roles and responsibilities as the assistant secretary?

Mr. Pizzella: I'm at sort of a 50,000 feet view of it. I provide advice to the Secretary and the deputy secretary on those administrative matters that I mentioned earlier. I coordinate much of the President's management agenda. President Bush, from early in his administration, laid out a management agenda for the entire federal government. And the coordination of that, or most of that in the Department, falls within my responsibilities.

Mr. Kinghorn: Pat, you also serve, as Paul said, as chief information officer. And those are sort of very broad responsibilities in and of themselves. What are those responsibilities, and how do you integrate, really, those two different positions you have; head of administration and broad management of the information technology resources?

Mr. Pizzella: Right. Well, let me go back to the President's management agenda for a minute, because one of the key components of his agenda is the expansion of e-government, which really falls to the chief information officer to implement and carry out. And I think your listeners are probably aware that the Office of Management and Budget has a scorecard that they put out annually, that rates all the departments and agencies regarding how they're doing against the President's management agenda.

We're very proud at the Department of Labor to have been the Cabinet department with the highest rating in the recent scorecard. On the red, yellow, green rating system, we had three yellows. And one of those was for e-gov.

And I think the success of our e-gov efforts are very much attributable to the integration of the role of assistant secretary and CIO. We have a very strong, capable professional staff. The President's management agenda helps focus everybody -- political appointee or career, it's very clear. And so that serves as sort of a real guide stick. And so there's not so much a division of time as it's really making sure that we integrate well the various components and responsibilities that I have, so that the agenda moves forward.

Mr. Kinghorn: You've had a very varied career, I think both as a career employee and now as a Presidentially appointed. Tell us a little bit about your career prior to coming to the Department of Labor, and perhaps a little bit about how you got to the Department of Labor.

Mr. Pizzella: I have always been in the excepted service. I have always been an appointee. And I came to town with the Reagan administration. And I've served in six federal agencies between the Reagan and the Bush administrations now. And in between that time, I spent 5 years working as a government affairs counselor, a lobbyist, for a Seattle-based law firm here in Washington, D.C.

And I wanted to come back into public service if the candidate I was supporting ended up winning. And President -- Governor Bush succeeded. And I volunteered, and was assigned the task of heading up the transition for the Bush-Cheney team regarding the General Services Administration, which is an agency I spent almost 4 years at in the Reagan administration.

And then on the first day of the new administration, I was asked to go over to the Office of Personnel Management and serve as chief of staff. I was one of those people who were on the landing parties that arrived on the first day. And so I spent 8 weeks there, which was a very useful experience leading up to the assistant secretary position at the Department of Labor. And then after about 8 weeks there, Secretary Chao asked me to come over and prepare for the role at the Department of Labor.

Mr. Kinghorn: Yes. I think our paths first crossed in the early '80s when I was at EPA and you were there also. And it's been about 10 years, I think. Eight to ten years. Do you find anything significantly different in how you approach what you're doing now than you might have approached it 8 years ago, when you first came into public service?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, I don't want to embarrass both of us, Morgan, but back then there were very few personal computers. And --

Mr. Kinghorn: What were they?

Mr. Pizzella: But I think the difference is -- a lot of it has to do with just agenda, and the way agendas are approached and advocated. From the standpoint of management issues, the President's management agenda is a superb roadmap for people in that area of government to follow. There's even a website, results.gov, that sort of focuses on the President's management agenda.

And the team that Secretary Chao has assembled is a team made up of both veterans from previous governments' experience and newcomers to government, but those with real specialized talents in the areas they've been assigned. And so we have a very coordinated and good working relationship. And it helps us move the agenda forward.

Mr. Lawrence: You indicated you were deeply involved in the transition. And I'm just curious, because your description of the first landing seems to conjure up the picture I have in my mind. What are the management challenges of being there on the first day and working through the transition like that?

Mr. Pizzella: The challenge is to sort of immediately meet the right people who are there and really know what's going on. And the career staff that is in place, I think most people will tell you are very helpful and provide some sound advice. But on your first day, you have a lot of questions that you ask. You have some assignments that you're expected to carry out. But you've got a lot more questions that you need answers to, so that, you know, you can keep sort of the ball rolling, and you can be responsive to the other parts of the Executive Branch, where everybody is calling everybody else, and making sure they've got the right phone number and then the right e-mail address, and so on.

But it was a very good experience at OPM. There's a very talented staff that was there. And it was an area that I had some knowledge of human resources issues from my previous stint at Education and GSA, and so forth.

Mr. Lawrence: Are there cultural differences? Morgan was asking you to compare across different time periods. How about across different administrations, having been in the Reagan administration and the Bush administration there?

Mr. Pizzella: I wouldn't say that there's cultural differences. There's - I guess a few of the differences - those of us who were in the Reagan administration and now are in the Bush administration are much more experienced. So, we come with a bigger knowledge base.

The President's management agenda was extremely helpful to new managers, because it answers a lot of questions even before you have to ask them. And I guess also just the idea of, certainly from my own experience, just there's a difference between coming to Washington for the first time and taking a position, versus leaving your office at one end of, you know, Pennsylvania Avenue, and going to a building at another end. So, that made it a lot easier.

Mr. Lawrence: And that's a good stopping point. Rejoin us in a few minutes as we continue our conversation with Patrick Pizzella of the U.S. Department of Labor.

What's the state of e-government at the Department of Labor? We'll ask Patrick when The Business of Government Hour returns.

(Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence. And this morning's conversation is with Patrick Pizzella. Pat's the assistant secretary for administration and management and the chief information officer at the U.S. Department of Labor.

And joining us in our conversation is Morgan Kinghorn.

Mr. Kinghorn: Pat, let's begin with e-government and the Department. Labor is the lead agency for one of the e-government initiatives. I think there are something like 24 across government. This one is govbenefits.gov. We know the website was recently updated to include more benefit programs. Can you tell us a little more about what the citizen might find when they reach that site, and what your objectives are?

Mr. Pizzella: Sure. govbenefits.gov was launched -- it was a public launch in April of this year. And it was the first really major launch, as you've referred to the 24 e-gov initiatives, that the administration is working on. And primarily, it's to provide citizens a 24/7 access to find out if they might be eligible for the many federal government benefit programs that exist. Hopefully, it reduces the runaround time that people had to do in the past, where they had to go walk from office to office to figure out where they really belong regarding their situation, or if they had to start calling -- you know, dialing for information.

The site. I'd encourage people to visit the site because you enter it, and your identification is not known. But you answer a series of specific questions, and then you're steered towards benefit programs that you might be eligible for. And then from there you can drill down on those sites and find out more information. And like I say, you can do this 24/7. Right now, we've got about 180 or so federal programs up on the site. And we're hoping by January to actually have all -- close to 300 federal government benefit programs listed. So, it will be -- this is Phase I. The first one is really inventorying and getting them all linked to the site, and then we'll go on from there.

Mr. Kinghorn: You mentioned that you got some yellows on the PMA, which are hard to come by. So congratulations.

Mr. Pizzella: Thank you.

Mr. Kinghorn: And a lot of it I think was to do with e-government initiatives. And this one, like e-gov itself, the concept requires you to go beyond the walls of Labor. And you mentioned hundreds of programs you're trying to consolidate for our citizenry. What were some of the challenges that you faced as a department trying to coordinate and develop improve their website that crossed the labor borders?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, it was challenging; it is challenging. You've heard those analogies of people of sometimes trying to work on these joint efforts with a lot of different agencies or individuals is like herding cats. Well, this is more like herding tigers, because some of these are rather large government departments that we're working with as partners.

We had really good coordination assistance from OMB. We were very focused on what our objectives were. The President's management agenda -- the existence of it -- really made some of what we had to do a little easier, because we weren't -- this isn't something sort of we created. We were assigned the task of being the managing partner, and we got to work on it. And there's always some places that cooperate more than others. But in the end, we really had good cooperation. And I think that the site itself is a testimony to that.

Mr. Lawrence: As managing partner for the initiative, what were your roles? Do you get to make decisions, or do you facilitate?

Mr. Pizzella: There's a lot more facilitation goes on than just sort of decisionmaking in a vacuum. And we had a project manager on it, we had a regular e-newsletter to the partners. And we set some specific time frames with goals and objectives, and that seemed to work well.

Mr. Lawrence: What can other departments and agencies learn from the implementation of govbenefits.gov?

Mr. Pizzella: As a matter of fact, we thought it would be useful to other departments and agencies if we did a little lessons learned ourselves. And our deputy secretary at the Department, Cameron Findlay, provided the President's Management Council and the Chief Information Officer's Council a "lessons learned from govbenefits memorandum" back in June. Because we wanted to do it very quickly after we launched it. Because like I say, we were the first ones to launch. There were 23 other initiatives.

And the lessons learned was -- I'll run through them for you rather quickly. One was to make sure you secure upper management's commitment to deliver results. We had that at the Department of Labor for sure, with Secretary Chao and the deputy secretary. Communicate effectively was lesson two. We had lots of meetings with partners. We set up a regular newsletter for them. And we really tried to keep everybody in the loop.

Lesson three was to develop an indisputable value proposition. And that proposition is, is building govbenefits the right thing to do for the citizens? And every time we ask the question, the answer is yes. So we kept working back to that with our partners, and to make sure that we had the cooperation that was necessary.

Lesson four is to recognize project champions and then channel their energy. Like every endeavor, there's some who have a higher degree of energy towards the project than others. So we try to recognize that and make sure we could maximize that. Lesson five was to demonstrate tangible results quickly. And sometimes in partnerships, there's a tendency for perhaps a lot of agreement and then not results. And we set an aggressive 100-day time frame for producing the first release, and we met that.

Lesson six was to promote risk-taking. And we wanted our partners, as well as the people we had working on the project, to think outside the box and look at ways to be creative in gathering up all these programs and the information. Lesson seven was to understand what drives your partners, because your partner is always asking the question, how does my organization benefit from this? And we were always mindful of that. And I think that very much contributed to the success of it.

Lesson eight was to apply pressure when appropriate. And we had, like I mentioned earlier, good coordination from OMB on that. Lesson nine, we found, was to appoint a full-time project manager. And we did that early. And actually, our project manager was hired away by the private sector just recently, but we have another project manager on board. The idea of someone full-time focusing on this is really a key. You cannot just sort of have collateral duties, if you're a managing partner.

Lesson ten was to build for the future. We focused on coordinating govbenefits with firstgov. From the beginning, our sites hosted firstgov. So as firstgov grows, we grow, too. And lesson eleven was to solicit citizen feedback. And we get feedback. And we utilize it to make adjustments and improvements.

Mr. Kinghorn: What's interesting is OMB, in a report they did after the summer process, where they gave the report card, the second phase of the report card, really indicated there were two factors. And you've named them, so you may have been the poster child. One was the fact that someone was in charge of each initiative. And the second, the agencies that did well saw the integrating force of all the five elements. So it sounds like you were probably one of the promoters of those two rules.

Mr. Pizzella: Yes. Well, our deputy -- and Cam Findlay was recently named, I guess in the last 4 or 5 months, as chairing the President's Management Council e-gov subcommittee, which I think was another credit to the Department, that this is an area that we spent some time on, an issue that we really are interested in.

Mr. Lawrence: Let me ask you about a couple of the lessons learned. One of them talked about the importance of involving top leadership. And often in the cases, people have great intentions, but top leaders have so much on their plate and so much to deal with. How is that actually done?

Mr. Pizzella: At our department, I had a weekly meeting that we still have on just our e-government strategy group. It includes a member of the deputy secretary's staff, someone from our intergovernmental affairs staff, obviously folks from the CIO's office. And so we go over a variety of e-government issues, and govbenefits -- obviously, the project manager would always be in those meetings. And so we would in essence have a weekly update and report on this.

And we also assembled an e-gov team at the Department, which is made up of the individuals from our department that are our representatives on the other e-gov initiatives that we're not the managing partner of. And that group meets about monthly, so that we have a continuing update of what's happening with all the e-gov initiatives that we have an active interest in.

And we exchange information, and keep each other posted so we can sort of -- sort of our own best practices session that goes on on a monthly basis there.

Mr. Lawrence: Another one was taking risks. And I'm just curious. At some level, that seems counterintuitive in the environment you're in. I wonder if you can give me some examples or some insights into how that was done.

Mr. Pizzella: Some of the risk was to keep meeting with agencies who maybe were not so enthusiastic at first. Don't take no or "not interested" for a final answer. And again, try to play to the partner's best interests as to why they should participate, and increase their participation. So I guess I would cite that as probably the key one.

Mr. Lawrence: That's a good stopping point. It's time for a break. Come back in a few minutes as we continue talking about management with Pat Pizzella of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Who's hiring MBA these days? Would you believe the Department of Labor? We'll ask Pat about this when The Business of Government Hour returns.

(Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence. And today's conversation is with Patrick Pizzella. Patrick is the assistant secretary for administration and management and the chief information officer at the U.S. Department of Labor.

And joining us in our conversation is Morgan Kinghorn.

Well, Pat, could you describe the Department's Management Review Board for us, and how it monitors the progress of performance goals?

Mr. Pizzella: Sure. The Secretary established the Management Review Board early in her tenure, actually in August of '01. And how it works is it's really -- we meet monthly. And all the agency heads from the Department are represented. And we largely tackle the President's Management Agenda and the issues that relate to it. And we always have a guest from the Office of Management and Budget. And we often have guest presenters also. We've had Mark Everson and Mark Forman and Angela Stiles come and make a presentation before the Management Review Board; Dan Blair from OPM has been over.

We've had Maurice McTeague from the Mercadus Institute come over and talk just a little bit about their approaches to things. So we get input from outside, and then we focus internally on a variety of issues: e-gov, human resources issues, budget issues and so forth.

Mr. Kinghorn: One of the areas, when you talk about in government service anyway, but management, you come back to the budget at some point. And you do have the budget under your umbrella. What are some of the techniques you've used to sort of use the budget to deliver results for the Secretary in terms of budget performance and that portion of the PMA?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, budget performance and integration is one of the five components of the President's Management Agenda. So we have spent a good time focusing on that, to make sure budget and performance are linked. The Secretary's priorities, because she's been so articulate in spelling them out throughout the Department, we don't get as many surprises in the budget request process, because agency heads know that their budget requests should reflect the Secretary's priorities and the President's Agenda.

It's very useful to utilize the budget process in order to eliminate redundancies, and to minimize, not maximizing the resources that are available within the Department of 17,000 people and $56 billion. If you coordinate that money well, you can get the results you want. And that's been a big part of our success.

Mr. Kinghorn: Let's turn to the other really critical factor of getting things done, and that's people. And as you know, the administration has, as one of its five elements, the human capital challenges. The General Accounting Office, obviously, has been discussing that. What do you think for the Department of Labor are your most significant human capital challenges? And what do you think you'll be able to do about it, and are doing now?

Mr. Pizzella: Again, going back to the OMB scorecard, that was a -- strategic management of human capital was one of those categories we scored well on. And we did that because we really focused on that early. The Secretary's a firm believer that personnel is policy, and that if you don't have the right people in the right jobs, you're going to have a tough time implementing your programs.

One of the things we tackled immediately was the performance management system at the Department. Through the Management Review Board, we overhauled that. When we first got there, there were three different performance management systems. We were at the end of the year, we were looking at comparing apples and oranges and grapefruits, because one agency had a three-level rating system, another had a four-level. A few had a five-level.

So we tackled that, and we now have one five-level performance rating system. We have moved -- we're in the process of moving everybody to the same cycle, because actually we had people on different cycles. We've connected it now to the fiscal year, which helps us in budget and performance integration. And we also successfully negotiated the inclusion of this with the union representing 8,000 of our field staff. So it's not only senior executives, but it's all about 2,400 or so supervisors and managers, and now the field staff, the rank and file. And we have also set parameters on critical elements.

We found, in the previous management systems, some agencies had four critical elements in our department, some had -- one had 12. So what we did in order to have some consistency, we set eight critical elements down for everybody. Four of them were going to be consistent in all performance agreements. There were four sort of managerial competencies that are expected in each one of the performance agreements. And then we left four up to each individual agency so they could be more focused on their particular missions. So now we're going to be able to evaluate both ratings as well as just individual performance, because we'll be talking about -- off the same performance management system. That was very helpful to us.

We are very -- obviously, like most agencies, concerned about succession planning. We had an SES candidate development program. There was one at the Department a few years ago. We decided to have another one. And actually, the Secretary just welcomed 27 new entrants into our SES candidate development program just a couple of months ago.

As we're in the 21st Century here, we knew that job skills are changing. In order to sort of create some liquidity in that, we sought a voluntary early retirement approval from OPM. And they provided that to us. We had 4,000 employees that were eligible for voluntary early retirement. And in the end, a little over 250 accepted it. So about 6 percent.

So I'm fond of saying that when it comes to the idea of mass retirements, that, you know, many are cold but few are frozen. There's quite a few people that are eligible, but not everybody always takes that. But you have to be prepared for that succession that goes on.

Mr. Lawrence: One of the initiatives that the Secretary set up is the MBA Outreach Program. Could you tell us about this program?

Mr. Pizzella: The Secretary -- as you know, we have an MBA President, the first time ever in history. And at the Department of Labor, we have an MBA secretary. Secretary Chao is a graduate of the Harvard Business School.

And so we thought it would be worthwhile to try to attract MBAs in these changing economic times. There are around 400 or so MBA schools out there that offer MBAs. And the Secretary as an MBA herself was very enthusiastic about this. And she as a matter of fact first announced it at the Society of Human Resources Professionals organization gathering in Philadelphia last June.

And our -- we have two objectives. One is to make people who are graduating from MBA school -- to take a look at the federal government, because historically, I think they tend to look towards Wall Street, the private sector, Silicon Valley, and so forth. And the government might be not in their immediate sights. And secondly, we want those people who already have MBAs and are out there in the workplace, who may be looking at changing a job, or in recent times may have provided them incentives to see what else is out there, to look at the Department of Labor and our job postings. Like I mentioned earlier, we're a $56 billion department and 17,000 employees. So if -- you know, we'd be in that Fortune 100 somewhere.

And we actually just completed the application process. And we're going to have very few slots for this program. We expect to have maybe 12 to 15 slots for the first MBA class, which we anticipate starting in January. But we had 250 applicants from across the country. So we face a challenge now of finding, you know, the best and the brightest.

One newspaper columnist referred to this as sort of a man bites dog approach, with the Department of Labor going after MBAs. But again, Secretary Chao is always challenging us to sort of think outside of the box as to how we can do things a little better and a little different at the Department. And the MBA outreach program is one of those things.

Mr. Lawrence: Have you had any early intelligence on what it is the draw was? Because you did describe a difficult situation. The investment bankers hire MBAs, and people would have us believe that the pay and other benefits are often not comparable to the private sector. So what's bringing all these people in?

Mr. Pizzella: We'll probably know more after we've gone through the resumes and interviewing them. But when you get 250 applicants on a brand-new program you announced, something's caught their attention. So we're looking forward to that.

Mr. Kinghorn: Even in the MBA schools, I know historically at Harvard or at Syracuse, many of them weren't really into non-profits. And in the last 2 years, that shifted dramatically -- that they're going back into public sector federal. So it sounds like you're catching the wave at the right time.

Mr. Pizzella: I also think that the President's Management Agenda, that the way he spelled that out may contribute to the interest in business schools where people actually see something that sort of reflects the things that they've studied: human capital, you know, e-government, financial and performance and so forth.

Mr. Kinghorn: People talk in the private sector on how you retain people. And I come out of the public sector, where me, my compatriots and myself remained, you know, in a lot of different jobs, but maybe 20, 30 years in an industry called government, federal government. How do you expect you'll be able to retain? What kind of things are you going to retain? Because we have trouble retaining MBAs and MPAs because they want to do a lot of different things.

Mr. Pizzella: We've set up a program where they will be on rotational assignments within the Department. We've assigned mentors -- we will be assigning mentors to them. So we're going to try to exercise some good care and feeding from the Department standpoint. And we think that some of the programs we have there, they'll find interesting. And you've just got to find the right fit. So we're cautiously optimistic that we'll be able to retain them.

I think the fact that they've applied to come to the Department of Labor is a first big step. They've probably -- we anticipate they have visited our website and looked at a lot of the programs. And they may even have some particular interest themselves, which we would facilitate them working on.

Mr. Lawrence: It's time for a break. Come back in a few minutes as we continue talking about management with Pat Pizzella of the U.S. Department of Labor.

What does the future hold for the Department? We'll ask Pat for his perspective when The Business of Government Hour continues.

(Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, and today's conversation is with Patrick Pizzella. Pat's the assistant secretary for administration and management, and the chief information officer at the U.S. Department of Labor.

And joining us in our conversation is Morgan Kinghorn.

Mr. Kinghorn: Pat, going back for a moment to sort of the human capital issues and expectations. In the future, how common do you think it will be for people to switch back and forth in mid-career?

Mr. Pizzella: I think in the non-career ranks, political appointees, I think it will be very common. And I think in the career ranks, it will be more common than it is today. You know, portability of pension plans, the government's thrift savings plan approach, and so forth makes the likelihood of that occurring more likely because of the similarities between the systems that used to be so distinctly different.

Mr. Kinghorn: Do you think there is a value? Because you've sort of done it in your career. Not only of being able to come back -- come and go -- but also work in different entities. I mean, the career public service rarely has a lot of movement, even at the SES level historically. Have you found that's helpful to you in terms of approaching different agencies and bringing with you some experiences, good and bad?

Mr. Pizzella: Yes. I mean, obviously, the experience is always a plus, because the government does have its own culture and its own systems. And when you arrive at it the first time, it all seems very foreign to you. But after a while, you know, you adapt. And like any other situation, you figure out what works and how you can advance the agenda that you've been assigned.

Mr. Lawrence: What's your vision for the strategic management of the Department over the next, say, 5 to 10 years?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, I think that the Secretary has often talked about the workforce and the 21st Century, and how the Department of Labor needs to play a role in that, a leadership role. I think internally to the Department, regarding its management, I think the e-gov initiative in particular will impact how we serve customers. The 24/7 concept just keeps growing and growing, and it's inevitable from that standpoint.

I think you'll see more and more people visiting the Department of Labor through its website, dol.gov, rather than walking into an office or sending a letter. So I guess from a visionary standpoint, I think you're going to see a smaller, more efficient, smarter department. And probably government in general will be that way, as more people sort of make a lot of decisions on their own by just acquiring information by visiting websites. Rather than always having to go to a government agency, they can go to a website, and they could spend some time, and make some of their own decisions.

Mr. Kinghorn: In our business approach, we're really approaching sort of this whole area of e-government sort of in an idea of on demand; on demand finance, on demand information. And we'd like to get your thoughts, having been very successful in these initial probably very difficult forays into integrating government through e-government, how far do you think we are as a government in becoming a truly seamless and integrated government through the use of technology and better business processes?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, it's really, you know, yard by yard to get to truly seamless. There are certain factors that drive everything. The effort of everybody to be more efficient, to do things quicker, faster, and better sort of just drives the process.

The technology is another driving aspect of the process. And when you combine those things, it's a healthy race as long as you're being cautious and avoiding mistakes and pitfalls. I think that the U.S. obviously is a leader in this. I mean, if you just look at the industries, the private sector here, we are leaders in that field as a country. And I think the government, particularly now with a lot of interaction with the private sector, we are gaining knowledge as to the best practices that are happening in the private sector as fast as they are happening. And we're just applying them to government.

Mr. Lawrence: As you've been rolling out the e-government initiatives, what changes are you seeing to the sort of classes of people -- their employees? And so at some level, paper-based processes are now being replaced by electronic processes. I'm curious sort of how that's being digested, and if we're seeing any changes. And then even that's understandable, but I'm wondering, is it changing the way the managers are now managing, because one might have imagined a long time ago they had a big staff of lots of people processing stuff, and now with e-government, they don't have those people or they don't need those people. And as a result, the need for that type management would disappear?

So I'm curious how you're seeing changes roll out.

Mr. Pizzella: Well, the people joining the government today are -- have already sort of experienced the advent of the technology age. So newer employees -- it's not new what they're arriving at, or what they're seeing. The knowledge and skills they're bringing with them are knowledge and skills that the government is implementing as quickly as it can.

So there's obviously that sort of transition period where programs go from being very paper-intensive to being web-based. But that's happening daily. The challenge is to make sure you prioritize those items that you want to accomplish more quickly than others, and make sure that you allocate the resources in a way that you can focus on that.

Mr. Lawrence: Is this leading to additional expenditures on, say, training as people learn new things?

Mr. Pizzella: I don't know if you have to label it additional expenditures. A lot of training is web-based now. So in the past, where you had to send someone away or they could only do it at a certain time, but people can take web-based training. So again, the whole idea -- the 24/7 nature of the way the world works and government is starting to work, is transforming the way we manage.

Mr. Lawrence: How is it transforming the way we manage? Is it changing the way the managers interact with the staff?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, just e-mail alone, the flow of information. People -- you don't have to wait so long for a memo to be answered, so to speak, because e-mail shortens all that. And I think almost certainly all our managers -- you know, e-mail is just something that is constant. And it particularly makes what I'll call the easier, the low-hanging fruit decisions, occur quickly, because people can comment within 10 minutes on a proposition that's served up on one e-mail. And then people can leave that and spin away from their desk and go into motion as to what they need to do.

Mr. Kinghorn: Management reform. Obviously, most administrations have had some form of management reform. I think what's unique from my observations on this is its comprehensive nature. And you've mentioned it many times, that it's not only comprehensive, but it gives you some powerful impetus behind what you're doing as head of administration.

Do you find that there is on your other stakeholders -- some of your customers, some of the citizens you interact with, or the Hill, or the GAO outside the administration, a similar interest now? Is there anything changing there that when you go up to the Hill in appropriations, they're actually interested in how well you've done on the e-government initiatives, or how well you've done on integrating budget. Is that changing?

Mr. Pizzella: One of the things in our budget, we have something that's been in there a few years called the IT crosscut. We manage our -- not all of it, but a portion of our IT funds from a crosscutting aspect, where we look at the proposals from a department-wide view and decide whether there's some duplication, whether there's another way to address this rather than just everybody's IT request is assumed to be the best request.

And we've had good success with that in making sure we maximize our resources. And I think OMB views it as a best practice, as a way to manage some IT spending. And in our current budget proposal, we've developed a management crosscut for the first time, where we -- again, agencies will have, as an example, human capital needs that they're looking at. And rather than sort of duplicate need after need in agency after agency, we're trying to coordinate that in a management crosscut, and then utilize it during the course of the year.

Because in the budget process, there's a planning part, and then there's the execution part. And sometimes between planning and execution, a manager's or agency's priorities may change or may shift. And by having a crosscutting approach to that, you're able to maybe move resources from one agency to another without harming sort of one agency, because their priorities have shifted, and to the benefit of another agency, who was hoping to do something that they originally didn't think they'd be able to do.

Mr. Lawrence: We're almost out of time, but I want to ask you one last question since you've had such a unique perspective. What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in public service?

Mr. Pizzella: The short answer is, you know, try it, you'll like it. But my experience of course has been as an appointee. And so my motivation was one of a leader who had an agenda that I wanted to assist in implementing. So that was sort of an easy motivation.

For someone who is looking at it from a different standpoint of just the idea of government and a career, I would -- the government is large. And I would try to shop around. There's a lot of different programs and a lot of sort of unique responsibilities, particularly in the area of homeland security now and technology, where the concept that there's only sort of paper-pushers in the government is not entirely accurate by any means. And there are some really unique challenges that -- where the government is looking for really competent people, and they have to compete with the private sector. So it would be a good experience, if that interests somebody.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, Pat, we're out of time. Morgan and I want to thank you for joining us this morning.

Mr. Pizzella: Thank you.

Mr. Lawrence: Thank you very much. This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Patrick Pizzella, the assistant secretary for administration and management and the chief information officer at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Be sure and visit us on the web at businessofgovernment.org. There you can learn more about our programs and get a transcript of today's very interesting conversation.

This is Paul Lawrence. Thank you for listening.

Patrick Pizzella interview
11/16/2002
Managing for Performance and Results; Financial Management; Leadership; Collaboration: Networks and Partnerships; Strategic Thinking; Human Capital Management...

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