From the Editor's Desk


From the Editor's Desk

Monday, July 18th, 2016 - 9:01
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Whether reforming the military health system, building the 21st century United States Coast Guard, leveraging science and technology to secure the homeland, or preparing for the next administration, the keys to success are strong leadership, good management, the right talent, solid decision-making, and a willingness to take risks (even if it means possibly failing).

This edition of the Business of Government magazine highlights strong leaders with the right talent who are charged with executing the business of government. These leaders are responsible for a vast array of government missions that comprise a significant chunk of the federal government budget.

It is my charge to tell their stories, outline their collective challenges, illustrate their respective successes, share the lessons they have learned – and ultimately, to impart how best we can help these leaders be effective. It is about fulfilling the IBM Center’s own mission: connecting research to practice. We do this with every edition, offering timely, relevant, and thoughtful perspectives from leading practitioners and public managers. A common thread binds together most of the features in this edition – that is, strong leaders and good management can set an administration up for success in achieving policy and political priorities while reducing risks.

Forum on Developing a Management Roadmap for the Next Administration
Last year, the IBM Center for the Business of Government and the Partnership for Public Service launched a Management Roadmap initiative as part of the Partnership’s Ready to Govern efforts. The Center and the Partnership sought to develop a set of management recommendations for the next administration – recommendations generated with an eye toward enhancing the capacity of government to deliver key outcomes for citizens. To develop these, the Center and the Partnership hosted a series of roundtable conversations that brought together senior public sector leaders and experts, top academics, and key stakeholders. The sessions explored current and past administration management initiatives that should be continued, new opportunities, and how to deliver real change in government through a comprehensive set of operational levers available to leaders. The recommendations gathered over the course of these meetings address approaches for enhancing a strong management system that better supports the incoming administration and more effectively delivers to the American people.

This forum highlights the reports, insights, and recommendations derived from the IBM Center and Partnership efforts and roundtables that have as their goal the development of a management roadmap for the next administration. Key topics include:

  • Managing the Government’s Executive Talent
  • Building an Enterprise Government
  • Enhancing the Government’s Decision-Making
  • Encouraging and Sustaining Innovation in Government
  • Getting Off to a Strong and Fast Start
  • Early and Effective Transition Planning

Conversations with Leaders
The four government executives featured in this issue exemplify a commitment to visionary thinking. Though they come from a host of disciplines and federal agencies, they share a single constant—they are all focusing on finding the methods, systems, and processes that work best.

  • Dr. Reginald Brothers, Under Secretary for Science and Technology, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, leads DHS’ Science & Technology Directorate. From border security to biological defense to cybersecurity to explosives detection, S&T is at the forefront of integrating R&D to meet homeland security mission needs. Dr. Brothers discusses his strategic priorities, the national conversation on homeland security technology, and the importance of making connections and harnessing innovation.
  • Anne Rung, Administrator, Office of Federal Procurement Policy, Office of Management and Budget (OMB), shapes the policies and practices federal agencies use to acquire the goods and services they need to carry out their missions. Rung outlines the complexity of federal contracting, the benefits of category management, driving innovation in acquisition, and efforts to strengthen government industry relationships.
  • Admiral Paul Zukunft, Commandant, U.S. Coast Guard, leads a service with unique and enduring value to the country. It serves on the front line for a nation whose economic prosperity and national security are inextricably linked to vast maritime interests. Admiral Zukunft detailed his strategic direction, key priorities, and how the USCG is modernizing to meet today’s demands.
  • Jonathan Woodson, M.D., former Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, U.S. Department of Defense, served as the principal advisor of health affairs to multiple secretaries of defense. As assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, he led DoD’s military health system, overseeing the DoD’s $50 billion health budget and shepherding this mission-critical care system through major reform efforts. Just before leaving his post, Dr. Woodson reflected on his tenure: his efforts to reform the military health system, transform military medicine, and strengthen military medicine’s global health engagement.

All year long, I speak regularly with leaders who are pushing limits, transforming the way the government works, and making a difference. The five government executives profiled offer their insights into how they strive to change the ways government does business. They joined me on The Business of Government Hour to discuss critical issues facing their agencies. They include:

  • Alfred Almanza, Deputy Under Secretary for Food Safety, U.S. Department of Agriculture, advances the protection of America’s food supply and offers insights into his agency’s efforts transform the system, ensuring the nation’s food is safe.
  • Paul Bartley, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Program Support, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, outlines his efforts to provide value-added services that support federal agencies’ business operations so agencies can focus on their core missions. Bartley offers his insights on adopting alternative models and approaches to providing services.
  • Dr. David Bray, Chief Information Officer, Federal Communications Commission, considers himself both a digital diplomat and a human flak jacket. Dr. Bray shares his insights on architecting FCC’s IT transformation and migration to the cloud while cultivating a network of change agents within his agency.
  • LaVerne Council, Assistant Secretary for Information Technology and Chief Information Officer, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, outlines her efforts to change the way VA does IT and conveys insights into how best to use technology to serve veterans more effectively.
  • Christina Ho, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Accounting Policy and Financial Transparency, U.S. Department of the Treasury, gives her insights into how the DATA Act is being implemented, the challenges faced, and continuing efforts going forward.

Perspective on Strategic Intelligence
Today’s government executives face serious and sometimes seemingly intractable issues that can cut to the core of effective governance and leadership. This calls for leaders to cultivate and possess conceptual tools that foster the practice of foresight, visioning, partnering, and motivating—what Dr. Michael Maccoby refers to as strategic intelligence.

What is strategic intelligence? What does it mean to be a strategic, operational, or network leader? What is the relationship between personality and leadership? Dr. Maccoby shares his perspective on these questions and to discuss his recent book Strategic Intelligence: Conceptual Tools for Leading Change.

Finally, Dan Chenok explores new pathways to delivering on mission priorities and achieving key government outcomes. John Kamensky chronicles the creation of a cadre of enterprise-wide leaders within the federal government. And John Lainhart outlines how to enhance IT security intelligence.

I close this edition with overviews of recent IBM Center reports. If you have not read these reports, we encourage you to do so by visiting

I hope you enjoy this edition of The Business of Government magazine. Please let me know what you think by contacting me at

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