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.

Samuel Bodman interview

Friday, August 8th, 2003 - 20:00
Phrase: 
Samuel Bodman
Radio show date: 
Sat, 08/09/2003
Guest: 
Intro text: 
Missions and Programs; Leadership; Strategic Thinking; ...

Missions and Programs; Leadership; Strategic Thinking;

Complete transcript: 

Arlington, Virginia

Friday, January 31, 2003

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, the co-chairman of The IBM Endowment for The Business 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 Samuel Bodman. Sam is the Deputy Secretary of U.S. Department of Commerce.

Good morning.

Mr. Bodman: Good morning, sir.

Mr. Lawrence: And joining us in our conversation is Tom Romana (phonetic). Good morning, Tom.

Mr. Romana: Good morning, sir.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, Sam perhaps you could give us some context. Let's begin by finding our more about the Department of Commerce. We know it's made up of a number of bureaus that have a wide range and functions. So, perhaps you could describe the overall mission.

Mr. Bodman: As you have already suggested, the Department's mission is broad and the responsibilities set that we is very diversed. Secretary Evans, my boss, and I really see our role as stewards for the free enterprise system. That's how we think of it. We both come from the private sector and that's how we think of this job.

Our mission is quite simple. To be an advocate for and a facilitator of business in the United States and between the United States and the World.

Our priorities include promoting free and fair trade practices. Encouraging economic development in distressed communities. Protecting intellectual property at the Patent Office which is part of our responsibility. And improving the quality of life and productivity of our economy through research. There is as we will cover later on, there are the research activity of the Department is a very important part of it. We have a varied web site, www.commerce.gov that is consistently one of the top three web presences across all of the Government.

Mr. Lawrence: Can you give us a sense in prospective in terms of the number of employees and the size of the budget in the Department of Commerce?

Mr. Bodman: We have a budget of about $5 billion dollars which in the non-Washington world is a great deal of money. Among the departments here in Washington it's on the smaller size. But we have 40,000 employees, close to 40,000 employees that many of whom are here in Washington but a significant number are scattered throughout the United States as well as around the World.

Mr. Lawrence: Is there a history of how the Department came to have so many varied functions?

Mr. Bodman: Well, I guess the best way to answer that is to go back and look a bit at the history of the Department. We began as the Department of Commerce and Labor. Both departments were together. It was formed in 1903 almost a hundred years ago. In fact, this month will be, the month of February will be our hundredth anniversary. And, we're going to be celebrating that during the next few weeks. Labor and Commerce became separate departments ten later in 1913. Commerce and labor were the seventh department formed as the Government was taking shape at that point in time.

The Patent and Trademark Office was formed outside but was transferred to the Department of Commerce from Interior in 1925. The Economic Development Administration, part of our work with the outreach to communities in the U.S. was created in 1965. NOAA which is almost now half of our budget, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration was formed in 1970. And, that joined the Department. And, TIA which is our activity for overseeing the telecommunications spectrum within the Government. We represent the Government in discussing the management with the FCC was created and developed also during the 1970's. International Trade Administration formed in 1980. So, all of these components which are thought of as activities of the Government which aid the development of free enterprise of business and the (inaudible) of Commerce were all added in over this century.

Mr. Lawrence: Sam, can you tell us a little bit about your roles and responsibilities as the Deputy Secretary?

Mr. Bodman: Tom, I'm the really thought of I think it's fair to say as the Chief Operating Officer. In fact, earlier in our tenure all the deputies were summoned over to the White House. The President met with us in the Roosevelt Room. And, he instructed us that you are the Chief Operating Officers of your department and your job is to keep the day to day activities of the department running effectively and smoothly thereby liberating the Secretaries of the various departments including Commerce to spend on in speaking out in working with the President on his priorities.

The Chief Operating Officer, at least as I think about it, kind of defines his job as the compliment of the things as the Secretary wants to get done. Our Secretary, for example, has concluded that he wants to spend a large part of his time the International Trade than on the economy. So, he works extensively with Secretary O'Donnis (phonetic) in the International Trade Administration. I tend to spend most of my time with the many other bureaus within the department whether its NOAA or the Patent Office, EDA, and so forth. And, so, it's a matter of splitting up the load. I also spend time working with my counterparts, the Deputies of the other departments in implementing the President's Management Agenda.

Mr. Lawrence: Could you tell us a little bit about your career before coming into this position and maybe think a little bit about what in your past best prepared you to take on the job?

Mr. Bodman: I'm a chemical engineer, Tom. My training -- I was educated first at Cornell then I got a doctorate at MIT. And, I spent the first seven years of my professional life as a teacher. I was a professor of engineering at MIT. I started doing some consulting work in the venture capital industry in those days which was a brand new field. That led me to leave teaching in about 1970 and I resigned my professorship and took a job with what was then a very small company in Boston with 15 employees.

That company became Fidelity Investments which now has tens of thousands employees and is spread around the world. I was there 17 years. Over time I became President and Chief Operating Officer of that company and oversaw the management of neutral funds, the brokerage business, pension fund management and the like.

In 1986, I left Fidelity and became Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Cabot Corporation, a Boston based Fortune 500 company engaged in those days in oil and gas and chemical manufacturing and specialty materials. We spun off the oil and gas business and Cabot continues as a chemical and specialty material business.

As to what prepared me best for this job, I would say first being a Chief Operating Officer at Fidelity which I was for almost a decade helped me take on this assignment here because I understood the need to conform my responsibilities, to conform my activities, perhaps I should say to those of the Secretaries, in that case, the Chairman at Fidelity, so as to best provide for a unified and effective partnership.

At Cabot, I spend much of time there as a Chief Executive looking at and visiting other nations and making investments in countries around the world were Cabot had never operated. Cabot operates today some 45, 46 chemical plants in 25 countries. Five or six of those countries were new or done on my watch. So, I spent a lot of time negotiating terms of new plants and new facilities abroad and that's helped frankly in my role in the department in dealing with the ministers of trade and commerce from foreign who visit and sometimes the Secretary, if she is in town, sees those and in many instances I see them because I tend to spend more of my time here in Washington while the Secretary is on the road.

So, that one at Fidelity learning the ends and outs of being a Chief Operating Officer helped in to understanding how to deal with foreign governments was something I learned a lot about at Cabot.

Mr. Lawrence: You're working in the public sector but it's clear that you have a great deal of private sector experience. How would you contrast the two sectors in terms of culture and management styles?

Mr. Bodman: Well, there's much greater diversity in the private sector as to culture and management style. Some companies are quite formal and structured. Other much more informal. Cabot was a company that I worked hard on changing during the time that I was there. The company I inherited was a very formal high structured one. I felt we could make better decisions and run the company more effectively by decentralizing business activities causing decisions to be made locally and to make it a more informal organization.

The people operating, for example, on a first name basis. The government is a much formal place to do business and work. I account for that for two reasons. One it is a large, a very large organization. Millions of people working in the government. Therefore, it's important I believe to have a certain degree of structure to maintain an effective organization. And, a big fraction of government employees are military folks. And, obviously the military has its own very structured way of doing business, a way of functioning. The President is the is in effect the Chief Executive Officer of not just the civilian government but of the military. And, so, I think some of the formality of the military spills over in the way we do business. People are addressed by title and by position much more in the government than my experience in working the private sector.

Mr. Lawrence: This is a good stopping point. We got to go to a break. Rejoin us in a few minutes as we continue our conversation with Sam Bodman with the U.S. Department of Commerce. Do you know what the American jobs and American values initiative is? You'll find out when we ask Sam when The Business of Government Hour returns.

(Intermission)

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence. This morning's conversation is with Samuel Bodman. Sam is the Deputy Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. Joining us in our conversation is Tom Romana.

Mr. Romana: Sam, could you tell us more about the American jobs, American values initiative at the Department of Commerce?

Mr. Bodman: Sure, Tom. The phrase "American jobs, American values" is a theme that we developed with the intention of capturing all that the Commerce Department represents and promotes. There are five component ideas that are associated with the theme: opportunity, innovation, entrepreneurship, trade and stewardship. These are really the core principals of the Commerce Department. These are the things that we believe in as I mentioned previously we view ourselves as the home of private enterprise within the government. And, this theme "American jobs/American values" is intended to really reflect those principles.

Mr. Romana: You mentioned earlier the involvement of the Department in our economic system. What's the Department doing to promote economic development?

Mr. Bodman: We undertake economic development in a whole variety of ways. A major priority is promoting job creation in trying to grow the economy. Especially these days, both the President and Secretary realize that we've got too many people out of work. And, that jobs are really at the heart of the President's economic growth plan that he has proposed to Congress. That's exactly why the President pushed for extended unemployment benefits just a couple of weeks ago. That's why the President proposed the innovative reemployment accounts concept for helping those who are out of work find -- develop ways of both training themselves for new jobs and helping pay some of the expenses to help them get new jobs.

The economy is growing but just not fast enough to produce the jobs that the Administration would like to see. And, we believe that the President's plan will put money back in the tax payer's wallets and will encourage small business to grow to hire the people who are looking for work.

Just a week ago today, I as in Seattle and while I was there visited a center that they run in the city of Seattle. Actually in Belleview, outside the city of Seattle that's state run. And, I met with two different groups of about 35 folks who were looking for work. And, talked to them about the President's plan. Listened to them to understand what their problems were and it was quite a fascinating experience.

The Secretary spends these days reading the bulk of his time traveling our country and listening. So, this is one experience I had. I tend to spend more of my time in Washington looking after the day to day operations while he's on the road. But, when you get out of here and you get out and talk to people who are really feeling the pain of the levels economic uncertainty that we're hearing about, reading about, it's revealing and an important process.

Mr. Romana: How does the Economic Development Administration factor into this part?

Mr. Bodman: We believe that successful economic development investments attract private sector capital. EDA as we call it, the Economic Development Administration's job is to foster a positive community environment where the private sector will risk capital investment to produce goods and services and to increase productivity thereby providing high skill, high wage jobs for the citizens in that area. In other words, their job is to invest sometimes in infrastructure, sometimes in other kinds of facilities that will in turn lead to investment from the private sector. We have a very capable person running that department who has done this job on a local level in Arlington, Texas. And, he came up to look after this and he has applied many of entrepreneurial principles that he put in place down there across the country and it's had quite an effect.

Mr. Romana: Can you tell us more about the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the work that they do and how that fits into the overall mission for the department?

Mr. Bodman: Well, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are NOAA. NOAA as we call it, is dedicated to enhancing economics security in our national safety by doing a lot of research, by doing weather prediction, working on forecasting other climate related events and by monitoring and protecting our Nation's marine assets. Both coastal resources as well as marine resources out in the deeper waters.

NOAA, from a budget standpoint, and we tend to look at things from a budget standpoint often here in Washington, is something over half of the department's budget. So, it's close to $3 billion dollars that spend in these activities.

The National Weather Service is part of NOAA. The National Marine Fisheries Service is part of NOAA.

NMFS as we call it, National Marine Fisheries Service is responsible for studying and understanding the fish population, the various fisheries, setting rules and regulations that govern the way fisherman are allowed to exploit these resources. So, fishing is about a $50 billion dollar business in America. And, so, you can see that it has direct impact on a very important economic sector.

The weather affects everybody. So, the NOAA really covers a very wide range of activities. Among other things is the center the government's work on global climate change or so (inaudible) issues related to global warming. That's undertaken in many departments. But, the center of it is within NOAA.

So, this activity covers a whole range of things and all of them bear on the economy although almost all of them are also very in a varied important dose of science and research that are part of it. I might add that as a fill-up that the website that they have www.noaa.gov which is part of Commerce, is really -- that has extraordinary level of activity. Parts has the weather service on it and its measured by the number of hits per day. It's one of the business websites that exists.

Mr. Romana: Earlier when you described the various functions of the Department, I couldn't notice emphasis on technology, patents and trademarks, technology administration, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration. So, I'm curious in thinking about things like the internet and wireless technology. What's the relationship between those things and those parts of the Department of Commerce?

Mr. Bodman: Because the Department of Commerce is so heavily devoted to science, to engineer, to research, the Secretary really had sought me out to take on this job because of my background in science and technology. You'll find that research is a major part of the vast bulk of things that we do at Commerce. I have just spoken about NOAA and the research activities there.

We have responsibility also for the National Institute of Standards and Technology or NIST as we call it. Together NOAA and NIST make up about two-thirds of our budget. So, you get a sense of the importance that we place on research. Both of these are very heavily research oriented activities. NIST, scientists develop and promote measurement. NIST use to be called the Bureau of Standards back when I was in the university. And, it's a major source of physics and chemical research carried out in the public interest. NIST scientist set the standards. They set the technology to enhance productivity, to facilitate trade, to improve our quality of life. And, this is really, I would use the term this is big league science. We have had two Nobel Prize winners in physics who worked for NIST awarded in the last five years.

Mr. Romana: Sam, can you talk a little bit about some of the programs and goals of the International Trade Administration?

Mr. Bodman: International Trade Administration or ITA as we call it. The first part of ITA's activities that I would mention is the U.S. Commercial Service which is an agency within ITA that helps U.S. companies particularly small and medium size businesses make export sales. That's really their mission.

The Commercial Service is a worldwide network of some 18,000 employees. Those employees work throughout the United States in 105 different export assistance centers throughout the United States. We also maintain and operate 151 international offices in 83 countries. Each export assistance office and each Commercial Service office is operated by Commerce employees. And, they together represent in these 83 countries some 96% of the world's market for exports. So, we have people out covering all manner of business activities.

Last year the agency, that agency, the Commercial Service facilitated as we calculated over $22 billion dollars in exports.

The import administration, on the other hand, deals with the negative side of things. It deals with the times when there -- we believe, they believe there are unfair foreign pricing or government subsidies for foreign companies that are exporting to our country. And, so, the import administration makes judgments, enforces the laws that we have on the books for dealing with these issues. And, is -- has been very effective during this past year, for example, in the steel area where there have been steel tariffs put in place. It was really the input administration that did and is continuing to do the work in analyzing and work in steel markets.

And, lastly, Market Access and Compliance or MAC works on specifically opening markets for American firms and workers and accesses the degree to which foreign nations are complying with the trade laws. We find that at times, for example, in some countries there pirating going on of CDs or of other software types of products. And, our folks of MAC are there and on the spot, evaluating it and working hard. Our leader in that area, Secretary Lash, Bill Lash, is in visiting a country where he felt there were unfair practices. So, we've been -- the post government argued with him so he went out to the local shopping mall at his own expense and bought up 20 to 30 CDs. Brought them back. Made a big deal about it in the newspaper. The government got so upset that they introduced a bill in their legislature to prevent Bill from coming back in the country. So, we have to say we're proactive might be an understatement.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, that's a good stopping point. Rejoin us in a few minutes when we continue our conversation about management with Sam Bodman with the U.S. Commerce. How is Congress handling the issues of the President's Management Agenda? We'll ask Sam 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 Samuel Bodman. Sam is the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. And joining us in our conversation is Tom Romia.

Mr. Romia: Sam, let's spend some time talking about the department's management initiatives. Could you tell us about the department's response to the President's management agenda and the department's red and yellow light scores?

Mr. Bodman: Sure, Tom, I'd be happy to. First, the President's management initiatives are five in number. First, the management or strategic management of human capital, of the human resources we have, secondly, efforts on competitive sourcing, outsourcing those parts of governmental activity that might more appropriately be done in the private sector. Improving financial performance is the third area of responsibility, expanding electronic government or e-Gov as we call it, and then lastly integrating budget and performance measures, so those five areas. There could be others that the President might have initiated but he chose to focus on those five.

OMB has developed a two-tiered scorecard to monitor how the agencies are doing in implementing the PMA. They have progress ratings. That is to say are we meeting our goals along the way that we said we would meet in terms of improving things. And then status ratings, how are we doing overall? The status ratings tend to be lower than the progress ratings because OMB I think correctly found when they came in and assessed the situation that in these five areas the government was really falling short of where it should be.

With respect to how we're doing the Commerce folks have made significant progress. I'm quite proud of what we've accomplished. In the most recent scorecard in the so-called progress ratings we've received green ratings. By the way, the evaluations are done in colors, green meaning things are going well or acceptably, yellow a mixed bag, and then red you're failing to do what you said you would do. We've gotten four greens in progress and one yellow where they've deemed that we have some problems. That happens to be in the e-Gov area but there's substantial room for improvement in that, looking at the status of where we are, we have three reds and two yellows in the most recent one.

So I'd say we're probably somewhat above average for the departments if you look at the way all the departments are being evaluated but, more importantly, it's been a useful tool inside the department to help all of us identify what the issues are and try to make progress. And it's a bit of an imprecise and imperfect measure of how we're doing that OMB is using but I think it's an effective one.

One example is in the financial area. The department received an unqualified opinion just this last week on our 2002 financial statements and we're close to completing the implementation of an integrated financial management system. That should be fully deployed by October of this year and we think we'll see a follow-on to that in terms of the way we're evaluated.

Financial management is a real problem for the government as a whole. The government as a whole does not have an unqualified financial statement and we have significant problems in squaring up the financial measures of just how well we're doing. The Commerce Department itself, as I said, I'm proud that we've continued to make good progress but the reason that the President has this as an objective is that it's a problem that permeates the whole federal government.

Mr. Lawrence: In addition to financial management another issue that gets called out often is human capital management.

Mr. Bodman: Right.

Mr. Lawrence: Could you tell us about your work force restructuring plans and the human capital issues at the department?

Mr. Bodman: I'd be happy to, Paul. We completed in the last year a so-called work force restructuring plan and that's really the cornerstone to implementing the human capital initiative that I mentioned under the President's management initiatives. The plan identified three Commerce-wide human capital challenges. First, looking at the high turnover that we have in some mission-critical occupations. Second, we like many parts of the government have an impending wave of retirements and this is particularly among the Senior Executive Service, so-called SES, our senior career employees, who are approaching retirement age and we need to have a plan to respond to that and to be ready for those retirements. And then thirdly we have the need to reshape the work force competencies as the world has changed.

For example, one of our specialists in the international trade area is retiring. His expertise happens to be the shoe industry and he's one of the world's great experts on the shoe industry. Well, the shoe industry in the United States has declined in its importance. And so when he's replaced it probably makes more sense to bring in somebody with expertise in e-business or some other activity. So that's an example of the sort of planning we're doing.

And we're taking steps to respond to these issues. We revamped the SES candidate development program. People enter into this when they wish to become part of the SES and we've established new performance measures for our senior executives. We've acquired an online training system, enhanced our web-based hiring system. We've revitalized the employee safety program throughout the department; that's been something of particular importance to me personally. And we've improved diversity recruitment efforts throughout the department.

And lastly several Commerce bureaus on their own have done their own restructuring plans. These would include EDA, the Economic Development Administration, Patent & Trademark Office, and MBDA, which is our Minority Business Development Administration, a part of Commerce focused specifically on the challenges of working with the minority business community. Each of these has restructured themselves and is working with Congress to get approval of their plans, which in general call for a decrease of the number of generals, if you will, who are in the headquarters and having more sergeants and privates out in the field working in the field offices with our clients, the American public.

Mr. Romia: How are you ensuring accountability for implementing your management agendas?

Mr. Bodman: Much of that, Tom, is personal. Accountability is really focusing on delegating the responsibility to individuals and holding them accountable. I meet periodically with the bureau managers of each of the activities within the department to review their progress. We discuss some midcourse adjustments to their plans and programs. We have regular budget and operational oversight meetings that also keep me abreast of the improvements that are being made.

Additionally the Secretary and I meet with senior managers from all of our bureaus every Monday morning at what we call the Executive Management Team, EMT, meetings. And we meet for an hour to an hour and a half and we go over issues such as the President's management agenda. We deal with also any of the priorities that the department happens to be focusing on at that particular point in time.

Our chief financial officer who I work with directly every day, our chief information officer, also oversee day to day activities and, as I mentioned before, we've revised the annual performance agreements with our senior executives so that we can ensure individual accountability. Like any other management job, in order to ensure accountability it really takes shoe leather, if you will. It takes personal time, face time, with the employees and that's really what my job is.

Mr. Lawrence: What are the management challenges or maybe what's the slice on the answer you just gave for the department that has to coordinate and manage such a wide variety of programs?

Mr. Bodman: Well, there are challenges because of the great diversity of what we do. We have a large number of employees all over the country, all over the world, as I mentioned before. We try to ensure that we don't overlap with the services of other government agencies which is very important. And we try to make sure that we coordinate with federal programs, with states, with local governments and work closely with our friends at OMB and on the Hill. Those are some of the challenges.

It's a formidable task and, as I mentioned before, the only way that I know how to do this and the way we're working at it is to try to hire quality people, try to empower them, to delegate responsibility to them to run their operations, and then to hold them accountable. Communication with them is key. So we spend a lot of time walking around talking to people and trying to understanding what they're doing.

Mr. Lawrence: How do you walk around when you have so many employees all around the world? How do you communicate to such a large group?

Mr. Bodman: Well, we do it electronically. That's certainly part of it. The Secretary travels the world a great deal. I do some of that since I tend to spend more of my time here in Washington. But it's a formidable task. As I say, each of the bureaus with people who are officed and function around the country and around the world are run by very capable people who travel an enormous amount. The woman who runs our Foreign Commercial Service, I, frankly, hardly ever see. If she attends, and is welcome always at the EMT meetings on Monday morning, if she's there a quarter of the time it's unusual. She's just gone. She's on the road working with her people. So it involves a lot of effort. It's a very management-intense organization.

Mr. Lawrence: That's a good stopping point. Rejoin us in a few minutes as we continue talking about management with Sam Bodman of the U.S. Department of Commerce. What really takes place at the President's Management Council, the PMC? We'll ask Sam, who's one of its members, to give us the inside scope 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 Samuel Bodman, the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce and joining us in our conversation is Tom Romia.

Mr. Romia: Sam, as deputy secretary you're a member of the President's Management Council. Could you tell us a little bit about the council and its purpose, activities, and goals?

Mr. Bodman: I'd be happy to, Tom. The council is made up of my counterparts from each of the departments as well as the head of, if you will, the service agencies that serve the various departments and serve the President. So we would have there the deputies from the 20 or so operating departments that are members of the council as well as the head of GSA, the head of the Office of Personnel Management as well as the deputies from OMB. And in particular that the council is managed by the deputy for management from the Office of Management and Budget, Mark Everson.

And the PMC meets monthly and it provides really a forum for the deputies to discuss progress being made, challenges, barriers, obstacles for the implementation of the President's management agenda. In other words the PMC is really about management and about what we're all collectively trying to do within our individual departments.

There are subgroups that worry about many individual initiatives, Kay Coles James, who runs OPM, is in charge of the subcommittee on human capital. We have a subcommittee on e-Gov that I happened to spend time on. So we work also at the subcommittee level. There's also an executive committee of the PMC, a group of five or six of us that meet also roughly once a month in order to set agendas and make sure that we're dealing with all the issues that we should be tackling.

It also, I might say, has served as a very effective social organization in the sense the deputies have gotten to know one another. And so if I have a problem in an individual agency I know my counterpart there, I've spent time with him or her, and it's easy to pick up the phone and talk to somebody that I've worked with and come to know a bit personally. So that's also been a very effective outcome of all this.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, that's interesting you bring that up because I was going to ask you about a number of the initiatives you described would seem to be broader than just the Department of Commerce. What are the management challenges working across the agencies?

Mr. Bodman: I can tell you this, that the President insists upon running a unified team and he has encouraged us to work together. As I mentioned, early in the game he got all the deputies there and gave us some marching orders. He has, I think, a very interesting way of phrasing it. In addition to that in his view, and I believe he's right, the typical American citizen does not differentiate between a political appointee and a career employee in the government. From a citizen's standpoint everybody's the same. And I think that's correct.

So we work very hard on trying to integrate and run the entire government in an effective way. The PMC plays a very active role in that regard. A good example might be thinking a bit about the climate change research carried out throughout the government. The President has a very specific results-oriented vision that he has for protecting our environment and he has a program that he wants us to carry out to meet the challenges and goals that he's set forth.

We have over 12, I think either 13 or 14, federal agencies that are working together on the science of climate change. Now think about that, 13 different agencies. It's a real challenge and they are working under the leadership of a Cabinet-level committee that is headed by Secretary Evans and Secretary Abraham from Commerce and from Energy to set priorities for where we ought to make additional investments in climate change. And then below that we have a series of other committees.

I happen to chair these days the so-called Interagency Working Group on Climate Change Science and Technology where we have representatives of all these 13 different departments, everybody from NASA to NOAA to Energy Department, Agriculture, and so forth, all of whom have research going on on the climate change and different aspects of it. And I alternate that, the chairmanship, up until the end of last year. Bob Card over at Energy was the chairman and then I took it on for him during this calendar '03.

So that's how we go about it. We try to get people together and try to be inclusive. And there again it's a little bit similar to the answer when we were talking about managing international. It just takes time and it takes face time and it takes effort.

Mr. Romia: On that same topic of interaction with other agencies one agency that's on most people's minds today is Homeland Security. What will the Department of Commerce's role be in homeland security?

Mr. Bodman: Tom, that's a very good question. Obviously it's on the minds of both our citizens as well as those of us working in government. A number of Commerce bureaus is working actively with the new department on homeland security issues and I would expect this kind of cooperation between these two departments will continue in the future.

One of our bureaus is the Bureau of Industry and Security or BIS, which is responsible for licensing exports of sensitive dual-use items and technologies. These are items that they have perfectly legitimate civilian uses but they also could be used as chemical weapons or nuclear weapons or biological weapons or advanced conventional weapons, some computer systems, for example. They have been working with Homeland Security. They in turn have a subsidiary activity involved in looking at critical infrastructure. That activity's actually been moved from Commerce over to the Homeland Security Office but we continue to work closely with our former colleagues there.

NOAA has observation systems and forecasting ability. So if we were attacked with some kind of microbe or chemical that was dispensed in the air we've got the skills and the capability of doing micrometeorological forecasting so that we would know where and when and how to deal with such an attack. NOAA also does monitoring of harbors. And we have a lot of expertise, a lot of data, on what the floor of harbors and entrances to harbors look like and so we can go in and check. Has something been changed? Do we have items, perhaps explosives or something, that have been put in a harbor that weren't there before? And so NOAA is very active in that.

And then lastly, NIST or the Institute of Standards and Technology is really expert on setting standards. And they certified, for example, the radiation dosage that was necessary to irradiate the mail following the anthrax attacks. They're conducting the investigation on the structural causes for the collapse of the two World Trade Center buildings. We've got samples out in Gaithersburg and they're doing the work on it. They also are experts on biometrics and some of the new technologies that might be used in screening people and keeping databases of individuals. So there are all manner of activities and we would expect the continuation of a good relationship with the new department.

Mr. Lawrence: Our final question, Sam, today is what advice would you give to perhaps a young person interested in a career in public service?

Mr. Bodman: That's an interesting question for someone who's spent almost all of his time in the private sector. First, bear in mind that when you work in public service you really do have an additional component, I think, of your motivation, that you're here for the good of all. I think having individuals remind themselves of that and understand that when you come into federal service that you are working in an immensely large organization and any immensely large organization is going to be imperfect in the way it manages itself. So you will find at times as a public service employee in the federal government, in any event, and I imagine it's true in the state and some local governments as well, we have gone to such lengths to make certain that we provide for checks and balances in our system that at times it makes the going very slow on getting decisions made.

I was used to in private sector a situation, especially when I was the chairman and I could make a decision, when I made a decision it didn't always get done but usually it did. When you come to the federal government even the President's not in charge of many decisions because the President can recommend but it's really up to Congress to appropriate the money. And so it's very important to bear in mind that you're in a large, complex organization that is in fact here for the greater good but it is likely to be slower going than you would like it to be and so therefore having patience is a very important component of it.

I would add that one of the things I found since I came here is an enormous number of highly skilled, highly dedicated, highly capable career employees who are really here for the right reason. They're here to serve our country. And that's been a very heartwarming and very positive part of my experience in government.

Mr. Lawrence: That's a good ending point. Thank you, Sam, for joining us today. Tom and I want to thank you for fitting us into your very busy schedule.

Mr. Bodman: I'm delighted to be here. I would remind any listener that I've given the websites, the worldwide web commerce.gov is a very active website. It covers all manner of activities, including NOAA's activity, or you can go directly to the NOAA website, which is quite a dandy place to explore and is the place that I like to go for actually a little recreation. They have a lot of interesting and scientifically challenging jobs there that they do and they're described well on that website.

Mr. Lawrence: Thank you. This has been The Business of Government Hour featuring a conversation with Samuel Bodman, the deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce. 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. Again, that's businessof- goverment.org. This is Paul Lawrence. Thank you for listening.

Samuel Bodman interview
08/09/2003
Samuel Bodman

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