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BPC Announces Focus on Management Excellence in Government

By Matthew Weil

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

When President-elect Donald Trump is sworn in on January 20, 2017, he will have the responsibility to appoint thousands of people to essential government roles. Many of these appointed officials will be tasked with managing huge bureaucracies, some of which have 10,000 or more employees and budgets in the billions of dollars. It is essential that these management positions be filled by qualified individuals and in short order.

Because there is little time for a learning curve, the American people expect that the appointees filling these management roles in government have some management experience, and Congress must ensure that each nominee is asked the right questions to assess his or her ability to perform the tasks associated with their position. That is why the Bipartisan Policy Center is launching its Management Excellence Tracker in early January 2017 to follow the progress in filling key Senate-confirmable management positions from nomination through Senate review to confirmation.

Polarization has led to an overwhelming sense that American democratic institutions can no longer address the most important issues facing the country.

Americans have little trust in government. As of the end of 2015, only about one in five Americans claimed to trust the federal government always or most of the time, according to a survey conducted by the Pew Research Center. After an intense presidential election, it is unlikely that trust in government is much higher now.

The reasons for this distrust are many. Polarization between the parties has led to gridlock and an overwhelming sense that American democratic institutions can no longer address the most important issues facing the country. The permanent campaign has also added to Americans’ distaste for the system. And maybe most directly, there have also been too many management failures in the executive branch, including the rocky rollout of Healthcare.gov and the Veterans Affairs medical system delays.

The Management Excellence Tracker is composed of more than fifty Senate-confirmable appointments representing each of the cabinet agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, Small Business Administration, Office of Management and Budget, and the Office of Personnel Management. For each agency, BPC will track at least the deputy secretary as well as the chief financial officer, if applicable. Additionally the top appointed positions at the ten bureaus or divisions within the cabinet agencies that have about 10,000 or more employees are included in the tracker. A full list of appointed positions will be released in early January.

There have been too many management failures in the executive branch. 

The tracker includes appointments that will be assigned to 14 different Senate committees for the confirmation process. All senators will have a role in ensuring the management excellence of these key positions in the executive branch.

Finally, only appointments that begin with a new administration are included. For example, the director of the FBI is appointed for a specific term that spans administrations and, thus, the position is not included in our tracker.

At regular intervals during 2017, BPC will issue updates about the progress made in filling these key positions in government that BPC has highlighted as requiring management experience. The first report will be issued in April 2017.

KEYWORDS: 115TH CONGRESS, DONALD TRUMP, ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY, OFFICE OF MANAGEMENT AND BUDGET, OFFICE OF PERSONNEL MANAGEMENT, PEW RESEARCH CENTER, U.S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION, VETERANS AFFAIRS