Making Government Work for the American People The next occupant of the Oval Office will need to transform campaign promises and a long list of priorities into real policies and programs that produce positive outcomes for the American people. 

The success of an administration can rise—and fall—based on its competence in managing the government. As history demonstrates, strong management can enable rapid and positive results, while management mistakes can derail important policy initiatives, erode public trust and undermine confidence in the government.

During 2016, the Partnership for Public Service and the IBM Center for The Business of Government joined together in sponsoring a series of day-long discussions to inform the next president and the new administration about critical management issues and actions that can strengthen government’s capacity to address the challenges facing our country.

Participants included current and former political and career leaders from the executive and legislative branches, subject-matter experts from the public and private sectors, and representatives from good-government organizations and the academic community. Each of the discussions focused on a key theme: Leadership Talent, Enterprise Government, Driving Innovation, Enhanced Decision-Making and Getting Things Done.

Through these discussions, accompanying reports and related research, we have developed a management roadmap, "Making Government Work for the American People," for the next administration. 


In "Making Government Work for the American People," we provide a roadmap for creating a robust management roadmap that includes four basic themes:

Managing the Government’s Executive Talent


Managing the Government’s Executive Talent by Douglas A. Brook and Maureen Hartney, Duke University.

For the next administration, the management of the federal workforce—including executives—will be a critical factor in the president’s success. The president’s political appointees will work with members of the career Senior Executive Service (SES) to direct the work of agencies and departments.

Part I of this whitepaper presents insights and options for effectively managing executive talent that stem from the roundtable discussion with senior current and former government leaders.  In Part II, the whitepaper authors offer a framework for the next administration to manage and harness the talent of top political and career executives in order to accelerate the achievement of presidential priorities. They highlight four key actions that should be undertaken by the next Administration if it wants to get off to a quick start in implementing its agenda.


Building an Enterprise Government


Building an Enterprise Government by Jane Fountain, University of Massachusetts Amherst

In January 2017, the next administration will begin the hard work of implementing the President’s priorities. Regardless of the specific policies, implementation in many cases will require working across agency boundaries. By taking an “enterprise government” approach – starting in the transition and continuing into the White House – the next administration can deliver on their promises more effectively. In this report, Jane Fountain lays out recommendations and a framework for how the new administration can build an enterprise government.




Encouraging and Sustaining Innovation in Government
Encouraging and Sustaining Innovation in Government by Beth Simone Noveck and Stefaan G. Verhulst, The GovLab

This paper provides analysis and a set of concrete recommendations, both for the period of transition before the inauguration, and for the start of the next presidency, to encourage and sustain innovation in government. Part I of this report presents observations and recommendations on effciency and effectiveness; the customer experience; citizen engagement; and innovation through leadership and talent, process, scale and governance. Part II takes stock of past experiences in the use of technology and innovation in government. The next administration will have the opportunity to build on progress from past administrations – from President George W. Bush’s e-government initiatives to the many efforts undertaken by the Obama administration. The final part offers a series of five broad recommendations and 10 specific and implementable actions to institutionalize a culture of innovation.



Enhancing the Government's Decision-Making
Enhancing the Government’s Decision-Making by G. Edward DeSeve, Brookings Executive Education
Effective decision-making will be a critical element for the new administration to address key priorities quickly and effectively. This report presents insights and options for effective decision-making in government. Part I of this report summarizes main points raised in the roundtable discussion. In Part II, the author offers three sets of recommendations for incoming leaders to put in place new decision procedures, and to leverage existing elements of effective decision-making processes and systems. These recommendations are intended to help the next administration act quickly on presidential priorities, and not be overwhelmed by the unremitting, urgent demands of ongoing governmental operations.






Transition Related Materials

The goal of this book is to assist political executives, as well as career executives new to their position, in navigating the current political environment and the world of Washington. The waters are likely to be turbulent. If one does successfully succeed in managing in Washington, it will be a very rewarding and fulfilling experience.

Part I contains seven “to-dos” necessary to “get it done” in Washington. Part II consists of 14 chapters, each describing an important stakeholder in the political environment of Washington.

New government leaders have a great opportunity to make a positive difference for the nation. We hope that the 2017 edition to Getting It Done will prove useful in helping them to achieve success.

Watch the video of our book launch and panel discussion.



The Best Transition In History - Presidential scholar Dr. Martha Kumar writes on best practices in Presidential transitions and the importance of focusing on management in the transition and early days of an administration. Read our blog post on Dr. Kumar's book.