Think Tanks and Other Players: 2008 (Part I)

Tuesday, April 1st, 2008 - 13:19
This is a start of an inventory of who is doing what in terms of developing management advice and support to the incoming President. Since a mix of efforts undertaken by various think tanks and other groups in 2000 helped create a useful bridge in that transition, hopefully similar efforts are underway in 2008. This initial inventory should give you some sense of who is doing what, where the holes are, and where there are opportunities for collaboration.

Transition: Role of Think Tanks in 2000

Monday, March 24th, 2008 - 16:43
Here’s where this becomes a true blog.  I know only part of the story and hope that you can add what you know to what happened, or correct what I remember! . . . . the full story is more complex than what I know without doing a lot more research, so this is a work-in-progress. . . .

Presidential Campaign Update

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008 - 13:40

Patrick Pizzella interview

Friday, January 11th, 2008 - 20:00
Managing for Performance and Results; Financial Management; Leadership; Collaboration: Networks and Partnerships; Strategic Thinking; Human Capital Management...
Radio show date: 
Sat, 01/12/2008
Intro text: 
Managing for Performance and Results; Financial Management; Leadership; Collaboration: Networks and Partnerships; Strategic Thinking; Human Capital Management...
Managing for Performance and Results; Financial Management; Leadership; Collaboration: Networks and Partnerships; Strategic Thinking; Human Capital Management
Complete transcript: 


Originally Broadcast January 12, 2008

Washington, D.C.

Announcer: Welcome to The Business of Government Hour, a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business.

The Business of Government Hour is produced by The IBM Center for The Business of Government, which was created in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. You can find out more about The Center by visiting us on the web at

And now, The Business of Government Hour.

Mr. Morales: Good morning. I'm Albert Morales, your host, and managing partner of The IBM Center for The Business of Government.

Today, the U.S. Department of Labor continues to heed the call that government should be results-oriented and guided not by process, but guided by performance. In the past few years, the Department has become synonymous with high performance, results, accountability in federal government. Labor maintains its dedication to improving performance and ensuring that good government principles inform its day-to-day management and its operations.

With us this morning to discuss his efforts in this area is our special guest, Patrick Pizzella, Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Good morning, Pat.

Mr. Pizzella: Good morning.

Good morning, Steve.

Mr. Sieke: Good morning, Al.

Mr. Morales: Pat, perhaps you could share with our listeners a sense of the history and mission of the U.S. Department of Labor. Can you tell us when it was created, and what's its mission today?

Mr. Pizzella: Sure. The Department of Labor was created by President Taft back in March of 1913, and its mission specified then was to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners of the United States to improve their working conditions and to advance their opportunities for profitable employment. And the mission has remained relatively unchanged after almost 100 years.

The first Secretary of Labor was William B. Wilson, who the Department just recently inducted into its Labor Hall of Fame. And there were originally four agencies within the Department: the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Immigration, the Bureau of Naturalization, and the Children's Bureau. Now, over time, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is still a mainstay at the Department of Labor, but over time, there have been other agencies that have been created by Congress and added, like the employment and training area, the workers' safety area, OSHA and MSHA, and such categories as wage and hour enforcement, and the Office of Labor Management Standards to enforce union democracy. So we're prepared for the 21st century, though we were created at the turn of the last century.

Mr. Morales: That's great. Can you continue to give us a sense of the scale of the operations over at Labor in terms of size of the budget, perhaps number of employees, and the geographic footprint that you cover?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, the Department has a discretionary budget of about a little under $11 billion, and with mandatory spending, it gets to about $50 billion. And we have in the neighborhood of 16,500 or so employees located across the country in a little over 500 locations. The national office, of course, is located on Constitution Avenue in the nation's capital. And the building is named after Francis Perkins, who was the longest-serving Secretary of Labor.

Mr. Sieke: Pat, now that you've provided us with a sense of the larger organization, perhaps you could tell us more about your area and specific role within Labor. What are your specific responsibilities and duties as the Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management and its chief information officer? Could you tell us about the areas under your purview, how your area's organized, and the size of your staff and budget, and how does it support the mission of the Department?

Mr. Pizzella: Certainly. As Assistant Secretary of Labor, I serve as the principal advisor to the Secretary in the administration and management programs of the Department. I wear other hats as the Department's chief information officer and the chief human capital officer and the senior real property officer, to name a few. As such, the portfolio I'm responsible for covers budget, human resources, information technology, procurement facilities management, security and emergency management, and the Department's overall civil rights program. The Office of Administration and Management contains three Deputy Assistant Secretaries: one for budget and performance planning, one for operations, and one for security and emergency management.

We have eight centers that operate out of the national office, and we have six associated regional offices, a little over 700 employees that carry out these functions. And as I mentioned, one of the key functional areas is the chief information officer, and that role requires us to ensure there's compliance by DOL agencies with implementation of the information resources management responsibilities that go with any senior official at the Department of Labor. And we also provide advice and assistance to the Secretary and other senior officials in the area of IT, IT security, and other information resources areas.

Mr. Sieke: So Pat, you certainly have a lot of hats that you wear. So regarding all these responsibilities and duties, what do you see as the top three challenges that you face in your position, and how have you addressed those challenges?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, the way we see it is that good management assists good policy. And if you have a good management infrastructure, it should assist the policy implementers at the Department, and so that's really been our focus since we first arrived there. We want to ensure the Department has a professional workforce that's structured to meet the Department's mission, both now and into the future, and we want to meet the challenges of ever-increasing risks, whether those risks are in the information technology area, physical security area, or continuity of operations, things like pandemic flu planning and so forth. And lastly, we want to maintain an effective support operation that will improve the efficiencies of the Department.

Mr. Morales: Now Pat, you've held various roles across a couple different agencies and departments over the past 25 years. Could you describe your career path for our listeners, and tell us how you got started?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, I began my career in Washington in 1981, and joined the Reagan Administration. And there, I worked as a special assistant to the head of the General Services Administration, which was very good training for someone who's now an Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management. I then served at the U.S. Small Business Administration, and I closed out the era with Pres. Reagan as Deputy Under Secretary for Management at the Department of Education. During that time, I had the opportunity to serve as a member of the Office of Personnel Management's Senior Executive Service Advisory Committee, and also as a member of the President's Council on Management Improvement.

Following that, I served as the chief administrative officer at the Federal Housing Finance Board for about five years. And that's an independent regulatory agency that was created in the aftermath of the S&L crisis, and it oversees the Federal Home Loan Bank system.

In most of the '90s, I was a member of the policy practice group at a Washington state-based law firm here in Washington, D.C., serving as a government affairs counselor.

I arrived at the current administration first as serving as a policy coordinator for the Bush-Cheney General Services Administration transition team. And then on January 20th of '01, I was one of the folks who were in the original landing parties. I was named chief of staff at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. And I stayed there for about eight weeks and went over to the Department of Labor, where I was nominated by the President in April and confirmed by the U.S. Senate in May of 2001, and I've been in this position ever since.

Mr. Morales: That's a fantastic career. So tell me, if you put all this together, how have these experiences prepared you for the current role that you have today and shaped your management approach and your leadership style?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, most of my previous positions, and certainly in the government area, dealt in one aspect or another of the areas of management administration. So the responsibilities now as Assistant Secretary really are a very neat fit for those things, particularly the experiences in OPM and human resources matters, or as they were known earlier on as personnel issues. And issues like the President's Management Agenda of President Bush really dovetail well with the previous experiences I had. And combining the President's Management Agenda with the Government Performance and Results Act that was passed by Congress in the '90s has given us some tools to have a real impact on how government operates, and I found them very useful.

Mr. Morales: Great.

What about Labor's information technology strategy? We will ask Patrick Pizzella, Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management at the U.S. Department of Labor, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.


Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Patrick Pizzella, Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Also joining us in our conversation from IBM is Steve Sieke.

Pat, could you tell us a bit more about the IT strategic plan at Labor? How does it address having multiple diverse programs that operate within a heterogeneous IT environment? And to what extent does the plan increase the outcome orientation of DOL's long-term measures and opportunities in the coming years?

Mr. Pizzella: Sure. Let me begin by saying that recently, or actually now it's been a couple of years, in October of '05, we updated our IT strategic plan that covers the years 2005 to 2009 to incorporate and align with DOL's mission, its agencies' requirements and the President's Management Agenda. And we wanted to link it to the federal enterprise architecture and federal government strategies.

In seeking the best IT strategy for the Department, there were several challenges that we were faced with. One was that the IT program operates in a very complex structure where we've got varieties of missions and business environments within the Department's 25 agencies, bureaus, and offices. We have obviously consideration and cooperation with both presidential, legislative, OMB, and other key sort of stakeholder directives that continually modify our IT strategy. And then, of course, we have to balance the appropriate IT resources that we have with the goal to achieve some results-driven performance.

First is the e government. We want to ensure that the IT initiatives and investments are really customer-focused and results-oriented, market-based, and cost-effective. Then we look at the enterprise architecture and we want to develop and maintain an enterprise architecture that is reliable and adaptable and it's driven by business and technology requirements, not just by technology

We're very cognizant of the IT management and governance structure in which we operate at the Department, and we try to promote the cost-effective IT solutions by sharing and implementing best practices, both across the Department as well as across government. Security has been in the forefront of issues that we really focus on, because in this particular age, providing a secure IT infrastructure that ensures the integrity and confidentiality of the data and information systems is vital for both the Department and for its customers.

And finally is the area of human capital, where you've got to develop and maintain high-quality in a competitive IT workforce.

Our Department's IT strategy calls for sort of leveraging and coordinating those goals and being sure that we are inclusive rather than exclusive at the Department of Labor so that we involve all the agencies in trying to achieve these objectives.

Mr. Morales: So Pat, it's been my experience that in the area of information technology, we tend to see things such as turf battles and proprietary views. Could you elaborate on your efforts to foster an enterprise view and break down these silos? And how are you revamping the Department's IT decision-making process?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, I think one of the keys to our ability to break down the silos has really been our success in capitalizing on the President's Management Agenda, particularly the e government initiative in that agenda. Our IT governing structure really fosters enterprise-wide thinking and collaboration at the Department. We have regular meetings with senior IT officials from all our agencies and bureaus and offices to really vet the issues that are before us and figure out what is the best solution when a Department solution is required.

We early on, very early on, tackled the -- what now seems rather funny in retrospect, the problem of having a variety of e mail systems serving one department. And we really made that an early test case where we wanted to get to one common e-mail system, and it took us 18 months. We started in '01. It was something that early on popped on the radar screen. But that experience, one, it showed us as a department we could work together; and two, it demonstrated that you can produce a common solution that works to everyone's benefit.

The story behind all that is that one of my fellow Assistant Secretaries was meeting with the Secretary one afternoon. And upon arriving at the Secretary's office, the Secretary asked her, I hadn't heard a response to the e-mail I sent you this morning. When do you think I'll get that? And the Assistant Secretary said I don't think I got your e-mail. And so of course, as the CIO, I was called into this discussion, and it turned out the reason it took so long for the Secretary's e mail to reach the Assistant Secretary, who only worked about 100 yards or so down the hall, was that we were on sort of two different e-mail systems. And we decided right then and there we were going to correct that situation, and very glad that we did.

Mr. Sieke: Pat, you talked about e-gov as one of your strategic initiatives. And we know that e gov initiatives are continuing to improve and expand services to citizens, businesses, and agencies alike. Would you tell us about your Department's efforts in this area, and what about the role your Unified DOL Technology Infrastructure, the UDTI initiative, has played in making your efforts successful?

Mr. Pizzella: Sure. One of the things that from a Department-wide standpoint we're looking at right now is something that the Secretary directed, which is a DOL enterprise communications initiative that includes all of our Internet, Intranet, our call center, our e-correspondence, language translation services. We want to get a common approach that gives us a convenient and secure access to DOL information and services, not just us, but our customers, with a consistent look and feel for clarity. So we'd be in the process of the centralization of web services, and this is, again, an effort where we're trying to break down the silos and stovepiping and working with all the agencies. And we're in the midst of that right now, and it's moving along quite successfully.

And in the area of the Unified Technology Infrastructure Initiative, we began that in late Fiscal Year 2004, and it really dovetails nicely with OMB's IT infrastructure line of business. We've already begun some consolidation of various agency networks into a single departmental network, and so we've achieved some savings through that right now. And we expect to save much more through consolidation, and we expect to improve the overall efficiency of our IT network through this infrastructure initiative.

Mr. Sieke: That's terrific. Now, last year, was recognized as one of the top 50 most innovative government programs in the Innovations in American Government Award program given by the Ash Institute and Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Could you tell us more about this program and your Department's role in its success? And how does it more effectively connect citizens to government?

Mr. Pizzella: Sure. We're very proud to be named a top 50 program, and one reason for our success is our collaborative and interagency partnership. We happen to be the lead agency or the managing partner of We've worked with our fellow agencies, 15 partner agencies to be specific, in getting this program up and running. It was one of the earlier e gov initiatives of the Bush Administration. And as a result, today,, it's a comprehensive, user-friendly benefit information source that features over 1,000 government benefit programs.

And what makes it so useful for the citizen is that we have a powerful prescreening questionnaire that allows citizens to come to the govbenefits website and answer some questions that will help determine their possible eligibility for the variety of federal programs out there. So rather than citizens having to sort of shop through pages and pages of information, by answering some questions, the prescreening questionnaire is able to help eliminate those programs of which they would have no eligibility for. And it's been one of the projects we've been very proud of.

Mr. Sieke: Well, congratulations on what has really been a successful program for you. Let me turn now to another topic. OMB has launched a budget formulation and execution line of business, which seeks to improve budget processes government-wide. Could you tell us more about this effort, and more specifically, what is DOL's E-Budgeting System, or DEBS, and to what extent has it influenced the framework development around this budget formulation and execution line of business?

Mr. Pizzella: Sure. Most agencies currently do not have an integrated budget environment to automate their budgeting activities. Instead, they depend on basic desktop office software to prepare and justify multi-billion-dollar budgets. The budget formulation and execution line of business was created by a group of pioneering agencies, including DOL, to identify a solution that linked budget formulation, execution, planning, performance, and financial information. And it also has the additional benefit of improving the human capital component of the budget community.

So working closely with the line of business, we delivered a budget system we call DEBS, it's the Departmental e-budgeting system, to all 18 agency components, comprising over 300 users at the Department of Labor. DEBS automates and integrates budget data. And the immediate benefits of DEBS are, one, it's the centralized management of the budget and performance information for improved decision-making; the near-elimination of document preparation tasks, sort of the tedious pagination and header/footer manipulation, that's virtually gone; numbers are consistently displayed throughout documents. It's easy now to electronically route documents for decision-making; and we cut down on errors with numbers and decimal points missing their particular place.

In the future, we'd like to see DEBS provide an electronic transmission of budget data for the Fiscal Year '10 President's budget. And we're looking to provide end-to-end automation of budget formulation and execution. So there are components and things that will happen down the road, but in the meantime, certainly at the Department of Labor, people are a little relieved in not having to go through the very tedious process that they've gone through for years.

And incidentally, as an aside, the DEBS project manager was recently recognized as a young leader in government information technology by Federal Computer Week, with a Rising Star Award.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic. Now, Pat, technology has enhanced the ability to share information, and it also has made organizations more vulnerable to unlawful and destructive penetration, which you touched upon a bit earlier. But could you elaborate on your Department's efforts to improve your IT security and your controls?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, achieving a common security posture for the Department, you know, has been a challenge, but it's like other challenges we face, it's something where we've had to work together within the Department. Particularly, we built an effective working relationship with the Department's Office of Inspector General, all our agencies, and we work hard to make managers more aware of IT security concerns, because we consider it a key part of everyday business. It's just not something you look at once a year or once a quarter.

This positive relationship I think is evident in the consistent reporting of our FISMA report, the Federal Information Security Management Act report that's required annually. We paid close attention to our implementation of security controls that are outlined in guidance provided by the National Institute of Standards and Technology. And through a phased approach, our systems were upgraded to meet NIST's set of security controls.

We have made security sort of second nature to the IT professionals. And we have included a very comprehensive security training program for all our employees. You really have to develop a culture of security, and that has been one of our prime objectives.

Mr. Morales: So along those lines, Pat, can you tell me a little bit more about specifically some of the steps you've taken to create or cultivate this culture of accountability and protection of sensitive IT data?

Mr. Pizzella: You know, since 2006, it's no secret there's been events reported in the media that have underscored the potentially serious consequences of lapses in maintaining security, particularly of what's known as personally identifiable information -- PII for the shorthand term. And at DOL, we've really approached that in a very, again, comprehensive and coordinated way, where communications to all employees are filled with reminders about the responsibility of senior managers in this area, because it's not something that just the CIO is responsible for. Managers and employees are responsible because they're often entrusted with PII, and therefore, they have a responsibility to protect that.

We have an annual Departmental PII review and reporting process that requires agency head certification of the adequacy of their agency's protection of PII. We have currently a Social Security number reduction task force charged with reviewing the Department's PII collections that determine candidates for elimination. I mentioned earlier we have a strong computer security awareness and role-based training program.

And in those instances where we find there has been a lapse and some PII has been exposed, we have a systematic effort where we alert folks to the possibility that some of their information could have been compromised. And I'm glad to say we have not run into situations where any we have any proof of anything actually being compromised, but we've always been alert not only to be sure that our employees are aware of this, but to be sure that those people whose information might have been exposed are alerted so that they can take their own personal precautions.

Mr. Morales: So it sounds like you have layers and programs and activities that sort of drive that message home with employees.

Mr. Pizzella: We do.

Mr. Morales: That's great.

What about Labor's success with implementing the President's Management Agenda? We will ask Pat Pizzella, Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management at the U.S. Department of Labor, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.


Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Pat Pizzella, Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Also joining us in our conversation is Steve Sieke, director in IBM's federal civilian industry practice.

Pat, we talked earlier about the PMA, and since its inception in 2001, it remains the key strategy for improving the management and performance of the federal government. Now, your Department has the honor of being the first Executive Branch department or agency to achieve and retain a green status score in all five government-wide PMA areas. Could you elaborate on how your Department has been so successful with the PMA? And more specifically, could you give us a sense of how DOL leadership sought to manage and approach the PMA from the beginning, how you got to green, and what were some of the critical lessons that you learned through this effort?

Mr. Pizzella: Sure. When the President's Management Agenda was launched in the summer of 2001, we knew this aggressive strategy for improving the management of federal government would be a challenge. First and foremost in our success has been the attention paid to it by Sec. Chao and the agency heads at the Department.

One of the key elements to help us along with implementing the PMA was the establishment of the Management Review Board by Sec. Chao in August of 2001, and it's still going on. This board meets for one hour once a month, and we just focus on management issues. And it provides the Department-wide forum for any and all of the cross-cutting management issues, whether they're in the PMA or not. I chair that board, and the membership includes all the major agency heads, the Department's chief of staff, and the Deputy Secretary of Labor.

The chief of the labor branch at the Office of Management Budget attends the monthly MRB meetings, and that's allowed us to maintain a good line of communication with OMB and to share information and ideas, particularly on budget administration initiatives. And it also, of course, helps build that transparency between ourselves and OMB in this key area.

We also from time to time invite outside guests to speak to the Management Review Board on the issues of the day. We've had obviously Clay Johnson, the Deputy Director for Management, has spoken to us. And John Mercer, who helped author the Government Performance and Results Act, has been someone who has addressed the Management Review Board, as has Maurice McTeague of the Government Accountability Project at George Mason University.

So the MRB was a perfect vehicle to serve as a launching pad for not only the PMA, but other DOL initiatives. As a matter of fact, the last time we spoke here at IBM, the PMA was just getting off the ground. That was in 2002. And the former president of the National Academy of Public Administration remarked that the DOL was off to a good start because we had yellow scores. Well, I'm proud to say, as you've referenced earlier, of those on the five government-wide management challenges that the President gave to the federal government, four of those are the responsibility of my office, and the improved financial performance initiative rests with the chief financial officer. But we were able to, in a coordinated effort, have the Department reach a green status and green progress in all those government-wide initiatives in June of '05. And like most departments since that time it's not easy being green, as someone once said. But we're glad in the last scorecard that just was issued at the end of Fiscal Year '07, we were able to begin all green on status scores for these government-wide initiatives.

We saw the PMA as really a way not only to implement a management agenda, but to engage career employees in what I'll call sort of a healthy competition amongst themselves and other agencies on how to achieve success and reach a goal. And I think the Department of Labor employees really rose to that task, and they were recognized. In December of '04, we received two President Quality Awards: one for the strategic management of human capital, and one for budget and performance integration. And we received two other President's Quality Awards: one in '05 and one in '06.

One of the things we did early on is the Secretary's a firm believer that personnel is policy. And we focused at the beginning on the strategic management of human capital, one of those five PMA initiatives, because we really felt if we were able to get that right, if we were able to get human capital right, it would help us achieve the other initiatives. And I think that really was one of the cornerstones of our success was how we focused early on human capital, and how it did spill over into the other initiatives.

Mr. Morales: Well, that certainly is a phenomenal success, and you all should be very proud of that progress. So in a related area, Pat, OMB's Program Assessment Rating Tool, or the PART, was developed to assess and improve programs' positive impact on outcomes that matter to the public. Now, to date, some 35 DOL programs have been assessed using the PART. Could you elaborate on DOL's overall PART performance? And more importantly, to what extent have these assessments enhanced accountability and program performance?

Mr. Pizzella: Of the 35 DOL programs assessed through the PART, more than 75 percent demonstrated positive results. Some programs with notable performance include the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and two programs that train veterans: the Veterans Employment and Training State Grants and the Homeless Veterans Reintegration Program. So we have found the PART is a good tool to analyze and review how a particular program is performing, and then for us to make some adjustments once we have those results. Sometimes the PART will identify inefficiencies, and that'll provide us a key as to where we need to maybe focus a little more on or provide a -- more or allocated resources in a different way. So the PART is one sort of arrow in our quiver of management tools we use to move forward at the Department of Labor.

Mr. Sieke: So Pat, you mentioned the importance of the DOL human capital strategy, so I want to switch over to one of your other leadership roles and ask you to describe how that strategy aligns and complements the Department's missions, goals, and organizational objectives.

Mr. Pizzella: Well, we touched on this a little earlier on, but the human capital strategic plan that we developed at the Department really brought together where we were going on this by outlining our mission, our vision, our departmental structure, the standards for success we would have. Our major objectives included reducing the competency gaps that existed in the Department, maintaining SES and mid-level management development and training programs to assist us in succession planning, continued improvement of the hiring process, preparing DOL's performance management system for pay-for-performance, and developing and implementing an e learning management system that provides a department-wide architecture for learning management and course development.

And that's really been our focus.

Mr. Sieke: That's great. Now, could you tell us about DOL's efforts to develop and implement a Department-wide performance management system which aligns employee performance expectations with organizational goals and objectives, links awards and recognition to organizational goals, and addresses poor performance?

Mr. Pizzella: Sure. As I mentioned briefly earlier, early on in this administration, the Department began moving towards a DOL-wide performance management system that focused on results. And by October of '03, we placed all our employees under one performance appraisal system. When we first got there, we found there were nine different systems and people were on different cycles. So you had different systems and different cycles amongst all our agencies, and it got to be a little bit confusing. And it was really tough at the end of the year to fairly assess the ratings, because sometimes you were literally looking at apples and oranges and whatnot.

So we continued to make strides in ensuring our performance management system was aligned and results-oriented by amending our policy on performance management and requiring performance elements to reference the Departmental agency or other organizational strategic goals with each is linked. We really like to connect the dots: our performance agreements for employees with our strategic plan for the Department and other department-wide efforts, like our e gov strategic plan or our human capital plan. We like to see things looped together.

We require all employee performance plans to include at least one critical element that makes it possible to hold employees accountable for work results. To address poor performance, DOL management and managers and supervisors should meet at a minimum with their employees at least once formally to conduct a midterm progress review. And to show that this is not a matter we take lightly, agencies must certify to the Department that the midyear progress reviews have been conducted in a timely manner.

We also require that any employee who fails to meet any of his or her performance elements in their performance plan must be placed on a performance improvement plan. So we've tried to build in some good safeguards for ensuring that our performance management system produces some results, and we think we've been successful with that.

Mr. Sieke: It sounds like a great example of kind of the laser focus you've had on performance in the Department. That's great. Now, Pat, would you elaborate for our listeners on DOL's MBA Fellows Program and what is required of the fellows? How does this program fit into DOL's succession planning approach, and what other changes are you making to the recruitment process at DOL?

Mr. Pizzella: I'm glad you raised the MBA Fellows Program because it is one of the success stories we're very proud of at the Department. It's a comprehensive, Department-wide, entry-level employment and career development program that's a key component of our structured approach to succession planning and developing future leaders for the 21st century. It was inspired by the President's Management Agenda and it was launched by Sec. Chao in June of 2002. The Secretary, herself an MBA, was very interested in utilizing this program to help attract individuals with the type of business skills needed to make the government more results-oriented and citizen-centered.

We joke about -- you know, if Nixon can go to China, then the Department of Labor can go to MBA schools. And we've really had quite a success. Early on, the Secretary herself wrote to every MBA school in America, alerting them about this program and seeking applicants for the program, as well as writing to every MBA alumni organization. Because we also wanted to get on the radar screen of MBAs out there who might be seeking career changes, and try to attract them to apply, particularly for our senior executive positions.

But we found that we have 15 MBA fellows a year we hire through this program, and we get a minimum of 300 applications for those 15 slots. We've ranged from 300 to 600 applications each year. As a matter of fact, since the inception of the MBA Fellows Program, we have doubled the percentage of employees with MBAs at the Department. So we're very proud of the program, and it's been very helpful to our overall succession planning effort.


Mr. Morales: That's great. Pat, I want to switch gears here for a moment to competitive sourcing. Now, competitive sourcing is about using competition to enhance business results within government agencies. Could you tell us a little bit about your Department's efforts in this area, and what are some of the challenges faced and what remains to be done in your perspective?

Mr. Pizzella: From 2004 through today, the Department has undertaken 28 competitions, of which 25 have been won by our Department of Labor federal staff. The activities subject to competition are commercial in nature, ranging from printing services to operations of the conference center, library services, claims examiners, facilities management staff. Through competitions, we've been able to streamline and make these activities more efficient.

One measure of the efficiencies gained are the estimated reduced costs over a five-year period of performance. The Department has been able to redeploy $67 million to high-priority program areas directly attributed to our A-76 competitions.

At the same time as we're doing this, and even though the Department is winning the vast majority of these competitions, we've been very mindful and made it a priority to protect the rights and interests of employees by helping DOL employees manage their careers and lives and to adapt to changes by applying various HR flexibilities to assist employees.

Let me give you a few examples. We offer voluntary early retirement on a regular basis, and often, we also offer voluntary separation incentive payments, buyouts, to employees wanting to take advantage of those things. We provide ongoing career transition assistance to employees, and we provide information through training sessions. We provide retirement and financial planning classes for employees who may be faced with a competition and want to know more about their options.

Of the more than 1,000 positions covered by A-76 competitions to date at the Department of Labor, only six employees were involuntarily separated from federal service, and we're very proud of that. So we've been able to minimize as best we can the impact on employees while improving the efficiencies at the Department through the competitions.

Mr. Morales: That's great.

What does the future hold for the U.S. Department of Labor? We will ask Patrick Pizzella, Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management at the U.S. Department of Labor, to share with us when the conversation about management continues on The Business of Government Hour.


Mr. Morales: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Pat Pizzella, Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Also joining us in our conversation is Steve Sieke, director in IBM's federal civilian industry practice.

Pat, we talk with many of our guests about collaboration, and you've talked about this yourself in a previous segment. So what kinds of partnerships are you developing now to improve operations or outcomes at Labor? And how many of these partnerships change over time?

Mr. Pizzella: As I mentioned earlier, one of the partnerships we're proudest of is And we're continually seeking out new partners, but the 15 partners we've been working with for the last several years on this have produced I think a first-class website that's beneficial to the citizens. That's

We've also been collaborating with 22 other agencies in providing, a White House New Freedom initiative. And this comprehensive interagency initiative removes barriers and improves online public access to disability-related resources. The DOL Office of Disability Employment Policy is the managing partner for this one-stop interagency web portal.

Also, we have the Department's Safety and Health Information Management system. It's a web-based information management system designed and implemented to comply with federal on-the-job injury and illness reporting requirements. And we've worked with the Transportation Security Administration on that and a variety of other agencies who are literally using our SHIM system, as it's called, because it's very current and it also helps achieve the specific goals that are required under the Act.

Mr. Morales: So, Pat, as you look into the future, can you give us a sense of some of the key issues that will affect CIOs government-wide over the next couple of years? And given this perspective, what emerging technologies hold the most promise for improving federal IT?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, I think the challenges will be the never-ending need to provide IT services in a budget-constrained environment. But that's somewhat minor compared to the major challenge I think will be the security challenge, because that focuses on both physical and technology. And I think many of your listeners are probably familiar with a Homeland Security presidential directive that deals with providing one federal ID card, a common ID card, and we're in the midst of doing that, and that's a several-year process.

What we find is technology can be very helpful, it can be very friendly, but it can also be challenging. And for agencies that are looking to improve efficiencies and truly gain real-time access to the type of management information that will help make every other decision you make a little more accurate and a little more efficient, good technology is the key to that.

Mr. Sieke: So, Pat, on a broader basis across all the roles that you play, what are some of the major opportunities and challenges your organization will encounter in the future? And how do you envision your offices will evolve over the next five years?

Mr. Pizzella: I think, as I mentioned earlier, we're looking forward to the -- really automating the budget formulation and execution process. That will have a Department-wide impact in not only improving efficiency, but improving the instant availability of budget information, which is so crucial to making management decisions. And it's not just the budget information of the moment, but it's historical budget information which can help you put things in perspective.

I touched on the information technology area. And as I mentioned a few moments ago, both the PII challenge there from a security standpoint as well as implementing the HSPD-12 are two areas in the future that you're going to see continued focus on.

And in the human resources management area, we at the Department are transitioning to a shared service center. And I think this is one of the Executive Branch's efforts at a human resources line of business. I think the perfect word to describe what's happening in the human resources community is "evolution," because over the next several years, you're going to see that HR people are going to be sort of shedding things that they might consider irrelevant, and improving upon things like competencies and processes and succession planning that are so important to the future.

Mr. Morales: So along similar lines, Pat, we typically ask our guests about the pending government retirement wave. And so I'm curious, how are you handling this phenomenon within your organization to ensure that you have the right staff mix to meet some of the challenges that you described?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, we pay attention both to what has happened in the past and what has happened currently, including projections for the future. We focus more on -- I like to say the faucet rather than the drain. People worry very much about who's leaving, and what we find is that there are many, many people eligible for regular retirement or early retirement, but very few people retire on the first day they're eligible. At least that's our experience. I'm fond of saying that, you know, many are cold, but few are frozen on this topic. But that doesn't mean you don't prepare for succession planning. And as I mentioned earlier, we have an extensive effort in our MBA outreach and MBA Fellows Program. We've offered some SES candidate development programs several times over the last seven years, and we have a mid-level management development program.

So at the Department of Labor, we hire about 1,100 folks a year. What we see is that when we post an SES job, there's usually no shortage of applicants. Obviously you're always looking for the best-qualified, and you hope you get that. We seem to have been fortunate in that area. That's enabled us to get the right mix, staff mix, to meet the future challenges.

Mr. Morales: Now, Pat, you've had a very long, successful, broad set of experiences in the federal government. So I'm curious, what advice might you give to a person who's considering a career in public service?

someplace in the federal government that you can contribute to. But the federal government, you know, has to compete for the best and brightest with what the private sector has to offer, and that's a challenging task. So federal service is really a special calling, but I would encourage people to take a look at it because it might be right for them.

Mr. Morales: That's great. That's fantastic advice. Pat, unfortunately, we have reached the end of our time. I want to thank you for fitting us into your busy schedule.

But more importantly, Steve and I would like to thank you for your dedicated service to our country across the various roles that you've held in the federal government.

Mr. Pizzella: Well, thank you very much, Al and Steve. It's always a pleasure to join you all.

In closing, I would like to point out something that we're very proud of at the Department of Labor. We talked about a lot of recognition and successes that the Department's achieved, but one of the things that goes unmentioned is that we've achieved that while our budget has actually been reduced over the last seven years. As a matter of fact, the budget that was proposed for Fiscal Year '08 by the President and Sec. Chao for the Department of Labor was the smallest budget proposed in over 10 years. We find that you can achieve successful results, like we have achieved in many areas, and still be fiscally restrained and respectful of taxpayers' dollars.

Sometimes it's not big things, but it's little things. Some of your listeners might be interested to know that over the last seven years, we've reduced the number of toll-free telephone numbers at the Department by 77 percent. When we first got there, there were 425 toll-free telephone numbers, and we're now down to 97. Well, the Internet's been expanding and folks aren't using toll-free numbers as much.

We've reduced the number of cars in our fleet. When we first got there, we found out we had 4,500 cars at the Department, or vehicles at the Department of Labor. It's now we've reduced that by 14 percent. Over the last seven years, we've been able to release over 100,000 square feet of space across the country, largely by closing just over 100 offices when resignations or retirements occurred in these small offices.

So I think it's important for your listeners to know that under Sec. Chao's leadership, we've been getting results in the way of increased worker protections and oversight in those areas, but we've been doing it in a fiscally restrained way that we think the taxpayers can be proud of.

Mr. Morales: That is fantastic, Pat. Thank you.

This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Pat Pizzella, Assistant Secretary for Administration and Management at the U.S. Department of Labor.

My co-host has been Steve Sieke, director in IBM's federal civilian industry practice.

As you enjoy the rest of your day, please take time to remember the men and women of our armed and civil services abroad who can't hear this morning's show on how we're improving their government, but who deserve our unconditional respect and support.

For The Business of Government Hour, I'm Albert Morales. Thank you for listening.

Announcer: This has been The Business of Government Hour.

Be sure to join us every Saturday at 9:00 a.m., and visit us on the web at There, you can learn more about our programs and get a transcript of today's conversation.

Until next week, it's

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I’ve occasionally tried to summarize what the different presidential candidates have been proposing in terms of how they would manage the government differently.

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Wednesday, October 31st, 2007 - 10:30
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Next President's Human Capital Agenda

Thursday, October 25th, 2007 - 8:33

Patrick Pizzella interview

Friday, November 15th, 2002 - 20:00
Managing for Performance and Results; Financial Management; Leadership; Collaboration: Networks and Partnerships; Strategic Thinking; Human Capital Management...
Radio show date: 
Sat, 11/16/2002
Intro text: 
Managing for Performance and Results; Financial Management; Leadership; Collaboration: Networks and Partnerships; Strategic Thinking; Human Capital Management...
Managing for Performance and Results; Financial Management; Leadership; Collaboration: Networks and Partnerships; Strategic Thinking; Human Capital Management
Complete transcript: 

Friday, November 1, 2002

Arlington, Virginia

Mr. Lawrence: Welcome to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, the co-chairman of The IBM Endowment for The Business of Government. We created The Endowment in 1998 to encourage discussion and research into new approaches to improving government effectiveness. Find out more about The Endowment by visiting us on the web at

The Business of Government Hour features a conversation about management with a government executive who is changing the way government does business. Our conversation this morning is with Patrick Pizzella. Patrick is the assistant secretary for administration and management and the chief information officer of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Good morning, Patrick.

Mr. Pizzella: Good morning.

Mr. Lawrence: And joining us in our conversation is Morgan Kinghorn.

Mr. Kinghorn: Good morning, Paul.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, Pat, let's begin by setting some context. What functions does the office of the assistant secretary for management and administration perform?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, the Department of Labor, for the benefit of your listening audience, is a $56 billion, 17,000-person/employee department, with 568 locations spread out across the country.

The assistant secretary for administration and management handles several functions there. One has to do with the budget development for the Department, human resources function of the Department; administrative services, dealing with things that go on actually inside the building; mail management, and some of the sort of nuts and bolts things of a government agency; information technology. And we also supervise the Civil Rights Center, which makes sure that recipients of financial assistance that the Department provides to the citizens is being done in an equitable way.

Mr. Lawrence: How big is your team, and what type skills do they have? You described such a wide range of activities.

Mr. Pizzella: The right people are in the right jobs I guess is what I'll say. They have a variety of skills. The professional staff has a terrific background to accomplish the tasks and missions of the Department. And administration management is really a service part of the Department. We really work more with our fellow employees and my fellow assistant secretaries than we work with our recipients of federal aid or the other people we serve in America.

Mr. Lawrence: And what are your specific roles and responsibilities as the assistant secretary?

Mr. Pizzella: I'm at sort of a 50,000 feet view of it. I provide advice to the Secretary and the deputy secretary on those administrative matters that I mentioned earlier. I coordinate much of the President's management agenda. President Bush, from early in his administration, laid out a management agenda for the entire federal government. And the coordination of that, or most of that in the Department, falls within my responsibilities.

Mr. Kinghorn: Pat, you also serve, as Paul said, as chief information officer. And those are sort of very broad responsibilities in and of themselves. What are those responsibilities, and how do you integrate, really, those two different positions you have; head of administration and broad management of the information technology resources?

Mr. Pizzella: Right. Well, let me go back to the President's management agenda for a minute, because one of the key components of his agenda is the expansion of e-government, which really falls to the chief information officer to implement and carry out. And I think your listeners are probably aware that the Office of Management and Budget has a scorecard that they put out annually, that rates all the departments and agencies regarding how they're doing against the President's management agenda.

We're very proud at the Department of Labor to have been the Cabinet department with the highest rating in the recent scorecard. On the red, yellow, green rating system, we had three yellows. And one of those was for e-gov.

And I think the success of our e-gov efforts are very much attributable to the integration of the role of assistant secretary and CIO. We have a very strong, capable professional staff. The President's management agenda helps focus everybody -- political appointee or career, it's very clear. And so that serves as sort of a real guide stick. And so there's not so much a division of time as it's really making sure that we integrate well the various components and responsibilities that I have, so that the agenda moves forward.

Mr. Kinghorn: You've had a very varied career, I think both as a career employee and now as a Presidentially appointed. Tell us a little bit about your career prior to coming to the Department of Labor, and perhaps a little bit about how you got to the Department of Labor.

Mr. Pizzella: I have always been in the excepted service. I have always been an appointee. And I came to town with the Reagan administration. And I've served in six federal agencies between the Reagan and the Bush administrations now. And in between that time, I spent 5 years working as a government affairs counselor, a lobbyist, for a Seattle-based law firm here in Washington, D.C.

And I wanted to come back into public service if the candidate I was supporting ended up winning. And President -- Governor Bush succeeded. And I volunteered, and was assigned the task of heading up the transition for the Bush-Cheney team regarding the General Services Administration, which is an agency I spent almost 4 years at in the Reagan administration.

And then on the first day of the new administration, I was asked to go over to the Office of Personnel Management and serve as chief of staff. I was one of those people who were on the landing parties that arrived on the first day. And so I spent 8 weeks there, which was a very useful experience leading up to the assistant secretary position at the Department of Labor. And then after about 8 weeks there, Secretary Chao asked me to come over and prepare for the role at the Department of Labor.

Mr. Kinghorn: Yes. I think our paths first crossed in the early '80s when I was at EPA and you were there also. And it's been about 10 years, I think. Eight to ten years. Do you find anything significantly different in how you approach what you're doing now than you might have approached it 8 years ago, when you first came into public service?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, I don't want to embarrass both of us, Morgan, but back then there were very few personal computers. And --

Mr. Kinghorn: What were they?

Mr. Pizzella: But I think the difference is -- a lot of it has to do with just agenda, and the way agendas are approached and advocated. From the standpoint of management issues, the President's management agenda is a superb roadmap for people in that area of government to follow. There's even a website,, that sort of focuses on the President's management agenda.

And the team that Secretary Chao has assembled is a team made up of both veterans from previous governments' experience and newcomers to government, but those with real specialized talents in the areas they've been assigned. And so we have a very coordinated and good working relationship. And it helps us move the agenda forward.

Mr. Lawrence: You indicated you were deeply involved in the transition. And I'm just curious, because your description of the first landing seems to conjure up the picture I have in my mind. What are the management challenges of being there on the first day and working through the transition like that?

Mr. Pizzella: The challenge is to sort of immediately meet the right people who are there and really know what's going on. And the career staff that is in place, I think most people will tell you are very helpful and provide some sound advice. But on your first day, you have a lot of questions that you ask. You have some assignments that you're expected to carry out. But you've got a lot more questions that you need answers to, so that, you know, you can keep sort of the ball rolling, and you can be responsive to the other parts of the Executive Branch, where everybody is calling everybody else, and making sure they've got the right phone number and then the right e-mail address, and so on.

But it was a very good experience at OPM. There's a very talented staff that was there. And it was an area that I had some knowledge of human resources issues from my previous stint at Education and GSA, and so forth.

Mr. Lawrence: Are there cultural differences? Morgan was asking you to compare across different time periods. How about across different administrations, having been in the Reagan administration and the Bush administration there?

Mr. Pizzella: I wouldn't say that there's cultural differences. There's - I guess a few of the differences - those of us who were in the Reagan administration and now are in the Bush administration are much more experienced. So, we come with a bigger knowledge base.

The President's management agenda was extremely helpful to new managers, because it answers a lot of questions even before you have to ask them. And I guess also just the idea of, certainly from my own experience, just there's a difference between coming to Washington for the first time and taking a position, versus leaving your office at one end of, you know, Pennsylvania Avenue, and going to a building at another end. So, that made it a lot easier.

Mr. Lawrence: And that's a good stopping point. Rejoin us in a few minutes as we continue our conversation with Patrick Pizzella of the U.S. Department of Labor.

What's the state of e-government at the Department of Labor? We'll ask Patrick when The Business of Government Hour returns.


Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence. And this morning's conversation is with Patrick Pizzella. Pat's the assistant secretary for administration and management and the chief information officer at the U.S. Department of Labor.

And joining us in our conversation is Morgan Kinghorn.

Mr. Kinghorn: Pat, let's begin with e-government and the Department. Labor is the lead agency for one of the e-government initiatives. I think there are something like 24 across government. This one is We know the website was recently updated to include more benefit programs. Can you tell us a little more about what the citizen might find when they reach that site, and what your objectives are?

Mr. Pizzella: Sure. was launched -- it was a public launch in April of this year. And it was the first really major launch, as you've referred to the 24 e-gov initiatives, that the administration is working on. And primarily, it's to provide citizens a 24/7 access to find out if they might be eligible for the many federal government benefit programs that exist. Hopefully, it reduces the runaround time that people had to do in the past, where they had to go walk from office to office to figure out where they really belong regarding their situation, or if they had to start calling -- you know, dialing for information.

The site. I'd encourage people to visit the site because you enter it, and your identification is not known. But you answer a series of specific questions, and then you're steered towards benefit programs that you might be eligible for. And then from there you can drill down on those sites and find out more information. And like I say, you can do this 24/7. Right now, we've got about 180 or so federal programs up on the site. And we're hoping by January to actually have all -- close to 300 federal government benefit programs listed. So, it will be -- this is Phase I. The first one is really inventorying and getting them all linked to the site, and then we'll go on from there.

Mr. Kinghorn: You mentioned that you got some yellows on the PMA, which are hard to come by. So congratulations.

Mr. Pizzella: Thank you.

Mr. Kinghorn: And a lot of it I think was to do with e-government initiatives. And this one, like e-gov itself, the concept requires you to go beyond the walls of Labor. And you mentioned hundreds of programs you're trying to consolidate for our citizenry. What were some of the challenges that you faced as a department trying to coordinate and develop improve their website that crossed the labor borders?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, it was challenging; it is challenging. You've heard those analogies of people of sometimes trying to work on these joint efforts with a lot of different agencies or individuals is like herding cats. Well, this is more like herding tigers, because some of these are rather large government departments that we're working with as partners.

We had really good coordination assistance from OMB. We were very focused on what our objectives were. The President's management agenda -- the existence of it -- really made some of what we had to do a little easier, because we weren't -- this isn't something sort of we created. We were assigned the task of being the managing partner, and we got to work on it. And there's always some places that cooperate more than others. But in the end, we really had good cooperation. And I think that the site itself is a testimony to that.

Mr. Lawrence: As managing partner for the initiative, what were your roles? Do you get to make decisions, or do you facilitate?

Mr. Pizzella: There's a lot more facilitation goes on than just sort of decisionmaking in a vacuum. And we had a project manager on it, we had a regular e-newsletter to the partners. And we set some specific time frames with goals and objectives, and that seemed to work well.

Mr. Lawrence: What can other departments and agencies learn from the implementation of

Mr. Pizzella: As a matter of fact, we thought it would be useful to other departments and agencies if we did a little lessons learned ourselves. And our deputy secretary at the Department, Cameron Findlay, provided the President's Management Council and the Chief Information Officer's Council a "lessons learned from govbenefits memorandum" back in June. Because we wanted to do it very quickly after we launched it. Because like I say, we were the first ones to launch. There were 23 other initiatives.

And the lessons learned was -- I'll run through them for you rather quickly. One was to make sure you secure upper management's commitment to deliver results. We had that at the Department of Labor for sure, with Secretary Chao and the deputy secretary. Communicate effectively was lesson two. We had lots of meetings with partners. We set up a regular newsletter for them. And we really tried to keep everybody in the loop.

Lesson three was to develop an indisputable value proposition. And that proposition is, is building govbenefits the right thing to do for the citizens? And every time we ask the question, the answer is yes. So we kept working back to that with our partners, and to make sure that we had the cooperation that was necessary.

Lesson four is to recognize project champions and then channel their energy. Like every endeavor, there's some who have a higher degree of energy towards the project than others. So we try to recognize that and make sure we could maximize that. Lesson five was to demonstrate tangible results quickly. And sometimes in partnerships, there's a tendency for perhaps a lot of agreement and then not results. And we set an aggressive 100-day time frame for producing the first release, and we met that.

Lesson six was to promote risk-taking. And we wanted our partners, as well as the people we had working on the project, to think outside the box and look at ways to be creative in gathering up all these programs and the information. Lesson seven was to understand what drives your partners, because your partner is always asking the question, how does my organization benefit from this? And we were always mindful of that. And I think that very much contributed to the success of it.

Lesson eight was to apply pressure when appropriate. And we had, like I mentioned earlier, good coordination from OMB on that. Lesson nine, we found, was to appoint a full-time project manager. And we did that early. And actually, our project manager was hired away by the private sector just recently, but we have another project manager on board. The idea of someone full-time focusing on this is really a key. You cannot just sort of have collateral duties, if you're a managing partner.

Lesson ten was to build for the future. We focused on coordinating govbenefits with firstgov. From the beginning, our sites hosted firstgov. So as firstgov grows, we grow, too. And lesson eleven was to solicit citizen feedback. And we get feedback. And we utilize it to make adjustments and improvements.

Mr. Kinghorn: What's interesting is OMB, in a report they did after the summer process, where they gave the report card, the second phase of the report card, really indicated there were two factors. And you've named them, so you may have been the poster child. One was the fact that someone was in charge of each initiative. And the second, the agencies that did well saw the integrating force of all the five elements. So it sounds like you were probably one of the promoters of those two rules.

Mr. Pizzella: Yes. Well, our deputy -- and Cam Findlay was recently named, I guess in the last 4 or 5 months, as chairing the President's Management Council e-gov subcommittee, which I think was another credit to the Department, that this is an area that we spent some time on, an issue that we really are interested in.

Mr. Lawrence: Let me ask you about a couple of the lessons learned. One of them talked about the importance of involving top leadership. And often in the cases, people have great intentions, but top leaders have so much on their plate and so much to deal with. How is that actually done?

Mr. Pizzella: At our department, I had a weekly meeting that we still have on just our e-government strategy group. It includes a member of the deputy secretary's staff, someone from our intergovernmental affairs staff, obviously folks from the CIO's office. And so we go over a variety of e-government issues, and govbenefits -- obviously, the project manager would always be in those meetings. And so we would in essence have a weekly update and report on this.

And we also assembled an e-gov team at the Department, which is made up of the individuals from our department that are our representatives on the other e-gov initiatives that we're not the managing partner of. And that group meets about monthly, so that we have a continuing update of what's happening with all the e-gov initiatives that we have an active interest in.

And we exchange information, and keep each other posted so we can sort of -- sort of our own best practices session that goes on on a monthly basis there.

Mr. Lawrence: Another one was taking risks. And I'm just curious. At some level, that seems counterintuitive in the environment you're in. I wonder if you can give me some examples or some insights into how that was done.

Mr. Pizzella: Some of the risk was to keep meeting with agencies who maybe were not so enthusiastic at first. Don't take no or "not interested" for a final answer. And again, try to play to the partner's best interests as to why they should participate, and increase their participation. So I guess I would cite that as probably the key one.

Mr. Lawrence: That's a good stopping point. It's time for a break. Come back in a few minutes as we continue talking about management with Pat Pizzella of the U.S. Department of Labor.

Who's hiring MBA these days? Would you believe the Department of Labor? We'll ask Pat about this when The Business of Government Hour returns.


Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence. And today's conversation is with Patrick Pizzella. Patrick is the assistant secretary for administration and management and the chief information officer at the U.S. Department of Labor.

And joining us in our conversation is Morgan Kinghorn.

Well, Pat, could you describe the Department's Management Review Board for us, and how it monitors the progress of performance goals?

Mr. Pizzella: Sure. The Secretary established the Management Review Board early in her tenure, actually in August of '01. And how it works is it's really -- we meet monthly. And all the agency heads from the Department are represented. And we largely tackle the President's Management Agenda and the issues that relate to it. And we always have a guest from the Office of Management and Budget. And we often have guest presenters also. We've had Mark Everson and Mark Forman and Angela Stiles come and make a presentation before the Management Review Board; Dan Blair from OPM has been over.

We've had Maurice McTeague from the Mercadus Institute come over and talk just a little bit about their approaches to things. So we get input from outside, and then we focus internally on a variety of issues: e-gov, human resources issues, budget issues and so forth.

Mr. Kinghorn: One of the areas, when you talk about in government service anyway, but management, you come back to the budget at some point. And you do have the budget under your umbrella. What are some of the techniques you've used to sort of use the budget to deliver results for the Secretary in terms of budget performance and that portion of the PMA?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, budget performance and integration is one of the five components of the President's Management Agenda. So we have spent a good time focusing on that, to make sure budget and performance are linked. The Secretary's priorities, because she's been so articulate in spelling them out throughout the Department, we don't get as many surprises in the budget request process, because agency heads know that their budget requests should reflect the Secretary's priorities and the President's Agenda.

It's very useful to utilize the budget process in order to eliminate redundancies, and to minimize, not maximizing the resources that are available within the Department of 17,000 people and $56 billion. If you coordinate that money well, you can get the results you want. And that's been a big part of our success.

Mr. Kinghorn: Let's turn to the other really critical factor of getting things done, and that's people. And as you know, the administration has, as one of its five elements, the human capital challenges. The General Accounting Office, obviously, has been discussing that. What do you think for the Department of Labor are your most significant human capital challenges? And what do you think you'll be able to do about it, and are doing now?

Mr. Pizzella: Again, going back to the OMB scorecard, that was a -- strategic management of human capital was one of those categories we scored well on. And we did that because we really focused on that early. The Secretary's a firm believer that personnel is policy, and that if you don't have the right people in the right jobs, you're going to have a tough time implementing your programs.

One of the things we tackled immediately was the performance management system at the Department. Through the Management Review Board, we overhauled that. When we first got there, there were three different performance management systems. We were at the end of the year, we were looking at comparing apples and oranges and grapefruits, because one agency had a three-level rating system, another had a four-level. A few had a five-level.

So we tackled that, and we now have one five-level performance rating system. We have moved -- we're in the process of moving everybody to the same cycle, because actually we had people on different cycles. We've connected it now to the fiscal year, which helps us in budget and performance integration. And we also successfully negotiated the inclusion of this with the union representing 8,000 of our field staff. So it's not only senior executives, but it's all about 2,400 or so supervisors and managers, and now the field staff, the rank and file. And we have also set parameters on critical elements.

We found, in the previous management systems, some agencies had four critical elements in our department, some had -- one had 12. So what we did in order to have some consistency, we set eight critical elements down for everybody. Four of them were going to be consistent in all performance agreements. There were four sort of managerial competencies that are expected in each one of the performance agreements. And then we left four up to each individual agency so they could be more focused on their particular missions. So now we're going to be able to evaluate both ratings as well as just individual performance, because we'll be talking about -- off the same performance management system. That was very helpful to us.

We are very -- obviously, like most agencies, concerned about succession planning. We had an SES candidate development program. There was one at the Department a few years ago. We decided to have another one. And actually, the Secretary just welcomed 27 new entrants into our SES candidate development program just a couple of months ago.

As we're in the 21st Century here, we knew that job skills are changing. In order to sort of create some liquidity in that, we sought a voluntary early retirement approval from OPM. And they provided that to us. We had 4,000 employees that were eligible for voluntary early retirement. And in the end, a little over 250 accepted it. So about 6 percent.

So I'm fond of saying that when it comes to the idea of mass retirements, that, you know, many are cold but few are frozen. There's quite a few people that are eligible, but not everybody always takes that. But you have to be prepared for that succession that goes on.

Mr. Lawrence: One of the initiatives that the Secretary set up is the MBA Outreach Program. Could you tell us about this program?

Mr. Pizzella: The Secretary -- as you know, we have an MBA President, the first time ever in history. And at the Department of Labor, we have an MBA secretary. Secretary Chao is a graduate of the Harvard Business School.

And so we thought it would be worthwhile to try to attract MBAs in these changing economic times. There are around 400 or so MBA schools out there that offer MBAs. And the Secretary as an MBA herself was very enthusiastic about this. And she as a matter of fact first announced it at the Society of Human Resources Professionals organization gathering in Philadelphia last June.

And our -- we have two objectives. One is to make people who are graduating from MBA school -- to take a look at the federal government, because historically, I think they tend to look towards Wall Street, the private sector, Silicon Valley, and so forth. And the government might be not in their immediate sights. And secondly, we want those people who already have MBAs and are out there in the workplace, who may be looking at changing a job, or in recent times may have provided them incentives to see what else is out there, to look at the Department of Labor and our job postings. Like I mentioned earlier, we're a $56 billion department and 17,000 employees. So if -- you know, we'd be in that Fortune 100 somewhere.

And we actually just completed the application process. And we're going to have very few slots for this program. We expect to have maybe 12 to 15 slots for the first MBA class, which we anticipate starting in January. But we had 250 applicants from across the country. So we face a challenge now of finding, you know, the best and the brightest.

One newspaper columnist referred to this as sort of a man bites dog approach, with the Department of Labor going after MBAs. But again, Secretary Chao is always challenging us to sort of think outside of the box as to how we can do things a little better and a little different at the Department. And the MBA outreach program is one of those things.

Mr. Lawrence: Have you had any early intelligence on what it is the draw was? Because you did describe a difficult situation. The investment bankers hire MBAs, and people would have us believe that the pay and other benefits are often not comparable to the private sector. So what's bringing all these people in?

Mr. Pizzella: We'll probably know more after we've gone through the resumes and interviewing them. But when you get 250 applicants on a brand-new program you announced, something's caught their attention. So we're looking forward to that.

Mr. Kinghorn: Even in the MBA schools, I know historically at Harvard or at Syracuse, many of them weren't really into non-profits. And in the last 2 years, that shifted dramatically -- that they're going back into public sector federal. So it sounds like you're catching the wave at the right time.

Mr. Pizzella: I also think that the President's Management Agenda, that the way he spelled that out may contribute to the interest in business schools where people actually see something that sort of reflects the things that they've studied: human capital, you know, e-government, financial and performance and so forth.

Mr. Kinghorn: People talk in the private sector on how you retain people. And I come out of the public sector, where me, my compatriots and myself remained, you know, in a lot of different jobs, but maybe 20, 30 years in an industry called government, federal government. How do you expect you'll be able to retain? What kind of things are you going to retain? Because we have trouble retaining MBAs and MPAs because they want to do a lot of different things.

Mr. Pizzella: We've set up a program where they will be on rotational assignments within the Department. We've assigned mentors -- we will be assigning mentors to them. So we're going to try to exercise some good care and feeding from the Department standpoint. And we think that some of the programs we have there, they'll find interesting. And you've just got to find the right fit. So we're cautiously optimistic that we'll be able to retain them.

I think the fact that they've applied to come to the Department of Labor is a first big step. They've probably -- we anticipate they have visited our website and looked at a lot of the programs. And they may even have some particular interest themselves, which we would facilitate them working on.

Mr. Lawrence: It's time for a break. Come back in a few minutes as we continue talking about management with Pat Pizzella of the U.S. Department of Labor.

What does the future hold for the Department? We'll ask Pat for his perspective when The Business of Government Hour continues.


Mr. Lawrence: Welcome back to The Business of Government Hour. I'm Paul Lawrence, and today's conversation is with Patrick Pizzella. Pat's the assistant secretary for administration and management, and the chief information officer at the U.S. Department of Labor.

And joining us in our conversation is Morgan Kinghorn.

Mr. Kinghorn: Pat, going back for a moment to sort of the human capital issues and expectations. In the future, how common do you think it will be for people to switch back and forth in mid-career?

Mr. Pizzella: I think in the non-career ranks, political appointees, I think it will be very common. And I think in the career ranks, it will be more common than it is today. You know, portability of pension plans, the government's thrift savings plan approach, and so forth makes the likelihood of that occurring more likely because of the similarities between the systems that used to be so distinctly different.

Mr. Kinghorn: Do you think there is a value? Because you've sort of done it in your career. Not only of being able to come back -- come and go -- but also work in different entities. I mean, the career public service rarely has a lot of movement, even at the SES level historically. Have you found that's helpful to you in terms of approaching different agencies and bringing with you some experiences, good and bad?

Mr. Pizzella: Yes. I mean, obviously, the experience is always a plus, because the government does have its own culture and its own systems. And when you arrive at it the first time, it all seems very foreign to you. But after a while, you know, you adapt. And like any other situation, you figure out what works and how you can advance the agenda that you've been assigned.

Mr. Lawrence: What's your vision for the strategic management of the Department over the next, say, 5 to 10 years?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, I think that the Secretary has often talked about the workforce and the 21st Century, and how the Department of Labor needs to play a role in that, a leadership role. I think internally to the Department, regarding its management, I think the e-gov initiative in particular will impact how we serve customers. The 24/7 concept just keeps growing and growing, and it's inevitable from that standpoint.

I think you'll see more and more people visiting the Department of Labor through its website,, rather than walking into an office or sending a letter. So I guess from a visionary standpoint, I think you're going to see a smaller, more efficient, smarter department. And probably government in general will be that way, as more people sort of make a lot of decisions on their own by just acquiring information by visiting websites. Rather than always having to go to a government agency, they can go to a website, and they could spend some time, and make some of their own decisions.

Mr. Kinghorn: In our business approach, we're really approaching sort of this whole area of e-government sort of in an idea of on demand; on demand finance, on demand information. And we'd like to get your thoughts, having been very successful in these initial probably very difficult forays into integrating government through e-government, how far do you think we are as a government in becoming a truly seamless and integrated government through the use of technology and better business processes?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, it's really, you know, yard by yard to get to truly seamless. There are certain factors that drive everything. The effort of everybody to be more efficient, to do things quicker, faster, and better sort of just drives the process.

The technology is another driving aspect of the process. And when you combine those things, it's a healthy race as long as you're being cautious and avoiding mistakes and pitfalls. I think that the U.S. obviously is a leader in this. I mean, if you just look at the industries, the private sector here, we are leaders in that field as a country. And I think the government, particularly now with a lot of interaction with the private sector, we are gaining knowledge as to the best practices that are happening in the private sector as fast as they are happening. And we're just applying them to government.

Mr. Lawrence: As you've been rolling out the e-government initiatives, what changes are you seeing to the sort of classes of people -- their employees? And so at some level, paper-based processes are now being replaced by electronic processes. I'm curious sort of how that's being digested, and if we're seeing any changes. And then even that's understandable, but I'm wondering, is it changing the way the managers are now managing, because one might have imagined a long time ago they had a big staff of lots of people processing stuff, and now with e-government, they don't have those people or they don't need those people. And as a result, the need for that type management would disappear?

So I'm curious how you're seeing changes roll out.

Mr. Pizzella: Well, the people joining the government today are -- have already sort of experienced the advent of the technology age. So newer employees -- it's not new what they're arriving at, or what they're seeing. The knowledge and skills they're bringing with them are knowledge and skills that the government is implementing as quickly as it can.

So there's obviously that sort of transition period where programs go from being very paper-intensive to being web-based. But that's happening daily. The challenge is to make sure you prioritize those items that you want to accomplish more quickly than others, and make sure that you allocate the resources in a way that you can focus on that.

Mr. Lawrence: Is this leading to additional expenditures on, say, training as people learn new things?

Mr. Pizzella: I don't know if you have to label it additional expenditures. A lot of training is web-based now. So in the past, where you had to send someone away or they could only do it at a certain time, but people can take web-based training. So again, the whole idea -- the 24/7 nature of the way the world works and government is starting to work, is transforming the way we manage.

Mr. Lawrence: How is it transforming the way we manage? Is it changing the way the managers interact with the staff?

Mr. Pizzella: Well, just e-mail alone, the flow of information. People -- you don't have to wait so long for a memo to be answered, so to speak, because e-mail shortens all that. And I think almost certainly all our managers -- you know, e-mail is just something that is constant. And it particularly makes what I'll call the easier, the low-hanging fruit decisions, occur quickly, because people can comment within 10 minutes on a proposition that's served up on one e-mail. And then people can leave that and spin away from their desk and go into motion as to what they need to do.

Mr. Kinghorn: Management reform. Obviously, most administrations have had some form of management reform. I think what's unique from my observations on this is its comprehensive nature. And you've mentioned it many times, that it's not only comprehensive, but it gives you some powerful impetus behind what you're doing as head of administration.

Do you find that there is on your other stakeholders -- some of your customers, some of the citizens you interact with, or the Hill, or the GAO outside the administration, a similar interest now? Is there anything changing there that when you go up to the Hill in appropriations, they're actually interested in how well you've done on the e-government initiatives, or how well you've done on integrating budget. Is that changing?

Mr. Pizzella: One of the things in our budget, we have something that's been in there a few years called the IT crosscut. We manage our -- not all of it, but a portion of our IT funds from a crosscutting aspect, where we look at the proposals from a department-wide view and decide whether there's some duplication, whether there's another way to address this rather than just everybody's IT request is assumed to be the best request.

And we've had good success with that in making sure we maximize our resources. And I think OMB views it as a best practice, as a way to manage some IT spending. And in our current budget proposal, we've developed a management crosscut for the first time, where we -- again, agencies will have, as an example, human capital needs that they're looking at. And rather than sort of duplicate need after need in agency after agency, we're trying to coordinate that in a management crosscut, and then utilize it during the course of the year.

Because in the budget process, there's a planning part, and then there's the execution part. And sometimes between planning and execution, a manager's or agency's priorities may change or may shift. And by having a crosscutting approach to that, you're able to maybe move resources from one agency to another without harming sort of one agency, because their priorities have shifted, and to the benefit of another agency, who was hoping to do something that they originally didn't think they'd be able to do.

Mr. Lawrence: We're almost out of time, but I want to ask you one last question since you've had such a unique perspective. What advice would you give to a young person considering a career in public service?

Mr. Pizzella: The short answer is, you know, try it, you'll like it. But my experience of course has been as an appointee. And so my motivation was one of a leader who had an agenda that I wanted to assist in implementing. So that was sort of an easy motivation.

For someone who is looking at it from a different standpoint of just the idea of government and a career, I would -- the government is large. And I would try to shop around. There's a lot of different programs and a lot of sort of unique responsibilities, particularly in the area of homeland security now and technology, where the concept that there's only sort of paper-pushers in the government is not entirely accurate by any means. And there are some really unique challenges that -- where the government is looking for really competent people, and they have to compete with the private sector. So it would be a good experience, if that interests somebody.

Mr. Lawrence: Well, Pat, we're out of time. Morgan and I want to thank you for joining us this morning.

Mr. Pizzella: Thank you.

Mr. Lawrence: Thank you very much. This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Patrick Pizzella, the assistant secretary for administration and management and the chief information officer at the U.S. Department of Labor.

Be sure and visit us on the web at There you can learn more about our programs and get a transcript of today's very interesting conversation.

This is Paul Lawrence. Thank you for listening.