Jonathan D. Breul

Jonathan D. Breul was the Executive Director of the IBM Center for The Business of Government and a Partner in IBM Global Business Services. The IBM Center for The Business of Government helps public sector executives improve the effectiveness of government with practical ideas and original thinking. The Center sponsors independent research by top minds in academe and the non-profit sector, and creates opportunities for dialogue on a broad range of public management topics.

The New Federal Performance System

The President’s fiscal year 2014 budget was released last week and emphasizes the creation of “a culture of performance improvement.”  This is also the theme of a new  IBM Center report, by University of Wisconsin professor Donald Moynihan who is a close observer of the international performance movement.

April Showers? The Federal Performance Agenda

The big news for many was the announcement last week that Shelley Metzenbaum, who is the Office of Management and Budget official spearheading the Obama Administration’s performance management initiatives on a day-to-day basis, will be leaving to return home to Boston.  “She arrived with a plan and gave us a set of priorities,” notes Jeff Zients, who serves as President Obama’s chief performance officer.

America's Got Talent

Coast Guard Admiral Thad Allen was superb at handling big, complex challenges that reach across agency boundaries.  He led the evacuation of lower Manhattan during 9/11.  He took over the Katrina rescue operations after they floundered.  He led the U.S. response to the Haiti earthquake, and the Gulf Coast BP Oil Spill.

Before Allen retired, I asked him “Where does the government find the next one hundred Thad Allens?”  He didn’t have a good answer.  But answering that question becomes more critical as the government finds itself increasingly facing cross-agency challenges.

Where Are the Low-Priority Programs?

What ever became of the new statutory provision requiring agencies to “identify low-priority program activities?”

Does Management By Numbers Work?

Dr. Hood, who is a well-respected public management professor, poses this question in a recent article in the Public Administration Review and his answer is:  it depends.

He posits that what the numbers are used for -- and the operational culture in the organizations in which they are used -- will influence the effectiveness of any “management by numbers” strategy.

What's the Recipe for Good (Collaborative) Relationships?

With Valentine’s Day approaching, there are all sorts of advice columns about improving relationships.  Well, A new IBM Center report by Dr. Jane Fountain, Implementing Cross-Agency Collaboration: A Guide for Federal Managers, offers advice on successful cross-agency relationships.  She says there is a recipe for success, but that it depends on a number of factors.

What Does Performance Management Look Like in India?

Sometimes it is refreshing to look at how other countries approach the challenge of measuring and managing performance in their governments. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend a World Bank seminar where the Secretary of Performance Management for the Government of India described how his country is doing it.

Trend 1: Performance

But it has been a long road.  In 2011, two European academics conducted a meta-analysis of 519 studies on performance-oriented management reforms undertaken across Europe in the previous two decades to determine if they resulted in improved processes, outputs, or outcomes.  They concluded the answer was “yes,” but not a resounding “yes.”  Their analyses showed 68 percent of the studies found improvements in administrative processes and activities, 44 percent in programmatic outputs, and 53

A Look at STEM Education: A Cross-Agency Priority Goal

Since the late 1950s, after the Russians launched Sputnik to the surprise of America, the federal government has promoted the development of a national workforce skilled in the sciences as a national security priority.  But the government also invests in developing similar skills for the federal workforce, given the hundreds of thousands of scientists, engineers, computer specialists, and doctors its employs.

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