Weekly Roundup: May 18-22, 2020

John Kamensky

Empowering HR and the Managers: Lessons from the Bush Administration

In early 2001, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) designated “Strategic Human Capital” as one of the federal government’s high risks for potential failure.  This issue is still on its list today, even though there have been concerted efforts by subsequent presidential administrations to address the issues raised by GAO.

GAO’s concerns at the time were that agencies did not:

Weekly Roundup: May 11-15, 2020

John Kamensky

Empowering the Federal Workforce to Get Results: Then and Now

But as IRS managers have found, this is an uncomfortable shift because it involves a culture change for managers. They have to trust their workers to do the right thing and empower them with the information, training, and tools to do it.

Veteran Benefits Administration’s Best Year Ever?

But there’s also some pretty amazing stuff going on in federal agencies that are not directly on the pandemic response front lines – and are getting their core mission work done from home.

One of those agencies – the Veterans Benefits Administration – has even exceeded its performance targets set before the coronavirus pandemic!  And at the same time, agency head Undersecretary Paul Lawrence has accelerated his personal outreach efforts to veterans via state-by-state tele-town halls where he’s connecting with tens of thousands of veterans in each state.

Part 2: How Is the Private Sector Pivoting to “Distance Work?”

[Note: This column also appears in Washington Technology. It is the second in a series on how the COVID-19 crisis has changed how government works.]

Nowhere has this been truer than the workplace, where companies and employees have found remote operations far more feasible than expected.

Weekly Roundup: May 4-8, 2020

John Kamensky

Who Is the Economic Predictor? Federal Times reports: “with the U.S. economy having just experienced its worst financial quarter in a decade because of the coronavirus pandemic, senior government leaders are asking when it will recover. The Transportation Department’s statistical agency may be able to offer clues.”

Are Agencies Ready to Manage in a New World?

Government needs to think about effective management both in the current historical moment, and for the longer-term. Additionally, knowing how well different which agencies are managed would be a useful baseline for new agency leaders or in setting priorities for a new administration. Developing benchmarks to measure effective management would be useful for agencies to assess how they are doing over time, in comparison to other agencies, or what best practices exist for potential adoption.

Weekly Roundup: April 27 – May 1, 2020

John Kamensky

Chief of Staff. What is the role of a chief of staff? When does an organization need one? A great article in the Harvard Business Review.

Part 1: The Future of Work Is Suddenly Here: “Distance Work” Is Transforming the Workplace

[Note: This column also appears in Washington Technology. It is the first in a series on how the COVID-19 crisis has changed how government works.]


Emeritus Senior Fellow
IBM Center for The Business of Government

Mr. Kamensky is an Emeritus Senior Fellow with the IBM Center for The Business of Government and was an Associate Partner with IBM's Global Business Services.

During 24 years of public service, he had a significant role in helping pioneer the federal government's performance and results orientation. Mr. Kamensky is passionate about helping transform government to be more results-oriented, performance-based, customer-driven, and collaborative in nature.

Prior to joining the IBM Center, he served for eight years as deputy director of Vice President Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Government. Before that, he worked at the Government Accountability Office where he played a key role in the development and passage of the Government Performance and Results Act.

Since joining the IBM Center, he has co-edited six books and writes and speaks extensively on performance management and government reform.  Current areas of emphasis include transparency, collaboration, and citizen engagement.  He also blogs about management challenges in government.

Mr. Kamensky is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and received a Masters in Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, in Austin, Texas.

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