Reverse Auctioning: Saving Money and Increasing Transparency

Monday, October 17th, 2011 - 13:35
Simply put, reverse auctions are auctions that enable sellers to “bid down” prices for their goods and services. The use of reverse auctions has substantially increased since Wyld’s initial report in 2000, albeit at a slower pace than anticipated in the earlier study. This new report contains original research on the potential of reverse auctions as a government cost-saving tool that also saves time and increases transparency.

Food Safety—Emerging Public-Private Approaches: A Perspective for Local, State, and Federal Government Leaders

Monday, November 22nd, 2010 - 15:16
A slate of recent legislative initiatives at the national level represents the most expansive reform of food safety in the U.S. since the 1930s. Spurred, in part, by recent high-profile food contaminations, new legislation is now under consideration in Congress that not only gives the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) greater regulatory powers over the nation’s food providers—but also dramatically alters the food safety landscape. Four separate bills have been introduced in this session of Congress.

Leaders Speak Leadership and Public Service- Conversations with Governor Tom Kaine, Admiral Thad Allen, Clay Johnson, Dave Wennergen, Dr. Anthony Fauci

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009 - 20:00
Leadership and Public Service with Adm. Thad Allen Dr. Anthony Fauci, Gov. Tim Kaine and more...
Radio show date: 
Tue, 06/01/2010
Intro text: 
Leader Speak 5/29

FY 2009 Financial and Performance Reports

Thursday, December 10th, 2009 - 15:32
If a tree falls in a forest, did it make a sound? The November 15th release of federal department and agency annual performance and accountability reports went largely un-noticed.  Not a mention in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal or Washington Post (even its Federal Page).

Honorable Timothy M. Kaine interview

Friday, August 22nd, 2008 - 20:00
Tim Kaine became the 70th Governor of Virginia on January 14, 2006. As Governor, Kaine is focused on areas where progress is needed to keep Virginia leading the way.
Radio show date: 
Sat, 08/23/2008
Intro text: 
Leadership; Managing for Performance and Results; Collaboration: Networks and Partnerships; Technology and E-Government; ...
Leadership; Managing for Performance and Results; Collaboration: Networks and Partnerships; Technology and E-Government;
Complete transcript: 

Originally Broadcast July 28, 2007

Richmond, Virginia

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.

We are here on location this morning in Richmond, Virginia, in the historic old Virginia Supreme Court Chambers of the newly named Patrick Henry Building, named after Virginia's first elected governor.

Recognized as one of the best managed states in the country, the Commonwealth of Virginia continues to build on a centuries-old heritage of leadership, achievement, and commitment.

There is little that the Commonwealth does not do well in terms of good government management. As a recognized leader in business, education, and quality of life, Virginia is marked by an attractive business environment, challenging and rewarding jobs reflective of a changing marketplace, and strong income growth throughout all regions of the Commonwealth.

Today, we are honored to have as our guest the Honorable Timothy M. Kaine, Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, to discuss his administration's efforts around government performance, accountability, transparency, and citizen engagement.

Good morning, Governor Kaine, and welcome to our program.

Governor Kaine: Albert, it's great to be with you today.

Mr. Morales: Thank you. Governor, we appreciate you taking time to share with our audience your leadership and management approaches to ensure the Commonwealth of Virginia's future and secure its past.

As an executive in charge of approximately 120,000 employees with a bi-annual budget of $71 billion, you must be kept constantly on the go.

Could you share with us what your past week has been like?

Governor Kaine: Yeah. I am constantly on the go, and I have to, gosh, what did I do last week.

We had a very special day last week, Cabinet Community Day. Four times a year, I take the Cabinet out on the road, and we go to a region of the state and begin with kind of an open Cabinet meeting, where the public is invited.

During the day, we then all fan out. Each Cabinet member works on matters that are kind of critical to their own agencies. And then, at the end of the day, we all come back together for a reception.

And we do this four times a year so that members of the public in all parts of the state kind of get to know us. You know, we need -- we shouldn't just stay in the capital. But we also do it so we can learn things and bring them back. We see best practices wherever we go. We see a -- you know, a city and county that are in an innovative way, you know, combining their social services operations to serve citizens better. Then we bring those items back and try to replicate them here and encourage other parts of the state to think about them. So that was one of the major items of last week.

We're also deeply involved in policy and budget matter preparation. The major budget that I will prepare as governor is one that I'll present to the legislature in December. We started working on it in March, and so we're, you know, we're deeply into that right now.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic. Now, Governor, so beyond past week, this year is of particular importance to Virginia, as it marks its 400th Anniversary of the Jamestown Settlement.

In celebration of this anniversary, you had the pleasure of hosting Queen Elizabeth --

Governor Kaine: Right.

Mr. Morales: --of England, as well as her husband, Prince Phillip.

Could you tell us more about this visit and how important is this celebration to the Commonwealth?

Governor Kaine: I think the celebration has been extremely important to the Commonwealth for a couple of reasons.

One, you know, anniversaries give you a chance to kind of step back and look at the big picture. I mean all of us can, you know, have the danger of getting sunk into our daily responsibilities and not stepping back and getting the perspective. And the anniversary has been very helpful for us to step back and look at how far the Commonwealth has come, to acknowledge that, you know, it's not all been rosy. There have been some very, very grim times here, and trying to learn the lessons of success and failure; but then, most importantly to say, okay, what have been the key values that have enabled this Commonwealth to be successful for 400 years that we want to carry forward.

So it gives you an opportunity to think about values. That's really important.

It also has given us an opportunity from an economic development and a marketing standpoint to tell the Virginia story. The visits of Queen Elizabeth, and then on the following weekend the President, you know, have a huge upside for us in tourism and other opportunities to tell the Virginia story and attract people and businesses to be interested in us.

So it's been a real fun year so far, and there are going to continue to be, you know, 400th Anniversary events throughout 2007, so, you know, much more in store.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic. Now can you tell us a little bit about your administration's adopted motto, "Virginia: Leading the Way." What inspired this motto and what aspects of Virginia's tradition of excellence does this model highlight. And, if I may, in what ways does it reflect your governance--your management, and your leadership style?

Governor Kaine: Well, we chose the motto at the beginning of the administration I think probably somewhat because of we knew we would be commemorating the 400th Anniversary, not just of Virginia, but of English-speaking civilization in the New World, of the birthplace of key democratic institutions -- elected legislature, freedom of religious worship, the equality principle.

And so Virginia has been a leader for those 400 years. I just want to make sure that, you know, we continue to see ourselves that way. We don't want to think of our leadership successes as all in the past. We want to think of them going forward. So the notion that we should be at the front, we should be leading in the creation of new opportunities, new institutions, new ideas is a powerful one.

In terms of, you know, what it says about our management philosophy. You know, sometimes you hear about people, they will separate management and leadership, you know. Management is doing things right, and leadership is doing the right things. And management is critical. We valued Governing Magazine's accolade a couple years ago -- we're the best managed state.

But we also want to be leaders. And leadership is a little bit different. I think leadership is often a little bit measured more by kind of the effect that you have on the external world rather than just how you're managing your own little corner of the world. And so I want to make sure that, you know, we hold out before everybody in state government that we're really called to be leaders.

Mr. Morales: Now you mentioned the accolades that you received by Governing Magazine, so how do you keep the level of intensity and leadership in the state after receiving such a prestigious award?

Governor Kaine: Well, it's a challenge. That's a daily challenge in a sizeable organization. And any sizeable organization faces, you know, what do you do to have a culture of continuous improvement, you know, responsiveness, excellence.

And so, you know, we do it in a whole lot of different ways. The way it begins is putting good leadership in place, and so, you know, I spent a lot of time when I came in as governor in January of '06 trying to put great people in leadership positions in the agency head spots in the Cabinet, Secretary, and the Governor's Office. And by great leaders, I tend to think of two main criteria. Not ever having had a management course, my kind of fallback position is success is, you know, goals plus relationships.

So I want people who know how to establish meaningful goals and then are willing to be held accountable and measured against those goals. And I also want people who know that to achieve goals you got to collaborate and that there are some things that a leader can do just by virtue of, hey, we're going to do this, and then it happens. But most things that you want to do really require relationships and collaboration.

So trying to pick a, you know, leaders who understand those two traits and can live them out that is the most important thing I can do to try to keep pressure on for success and improvement.

Mr. Morales: That's great. Governor, as a citizen myself of Virginia, I can vouch that the Commonwealth has earned a strong reputation as a great place to live, great place to get an education, work, and raise a family.

Yet, as with other states, the Commonwealth faces the challenge of how to sustain and improve.

Governor Kaine: Absolutely.

Mr. Morales: Could you tell us a little bit about the Roadmap for Virginia's Future and the vision for Virginia that you have?

Governor Kaine: Mm hmm. Certainly. It is hard to, you know, to maintain that accelerated pace. You know, in the last 50 years, from Queen Elizabeth's 1957 visit to Jamestown to 2007, Virginia has made a tremendous accelerated jump, really. We were at the bottom of the nation in percentage of our kids going to school. Now are public schools are recognized as some of the best in the nation.

Our higher ed attendance was less than half the national average in '57. Now we're significantly above the national average. We were 36th in the nation in per capita income in 1957. We're 9th in the nation now. And in that, no state has made that as big a jump as Virginia has.

So how do we keep it, you know, strong going forward? Our Council on Virginia's Future has worked with us to come up with this roadmap for success really focusing on continuous effort to define long-term goals and then organize our effort around those goals.

One danger we have in Virginia is that we have a one-term governor that can't succeed him or herself, so that's a four-year period. Our legislative terms are either two-years in the House or four-years in the Senate, and you can run into a danger of short-term thinking, of thinking that is only in two- or four-year increments, when to have sustained improvement, you've got to have a longer time horizon.

So the roadmap is about trying to refine and set goals that really go out further than a governor's term or an election cycle so that we can then orient the activities of state government around those longer-term goals.

Mr. Morales: That certainly is a very short time to get a lot accomplished?

Governor Kaine: It is. And, you know, you end up, no matter how much you know about government when you come in, and I was the Lieutenant Governor, so I sat next to a great governor for four years, I didn't have a big learning curve. It's still -- you know, you're just not -- you're not as sharp on your first day as you are once you get about a year and a half into the job.

So that first year, you're kind of feeling your way, and then frankly, the last year, often the legislature will say, well, you know, we're going to have another governor soon, so you start to find some tail off in your power at the end. And so that means that your window to really make a big difference shrinks a little bit from the four years to maybe, you know, two and a half or three, and you really got to push to get things done.

But the roadmap helps in establishing longer-term goals and also with the Council bringing people to the table other than legislatures, and legislatures are included, so is the Executive, but bringing community leaders, business leaders, and others to the table who are going to be here for the long haul and are going to continue to hold us accountable for long-term improvement.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic. What is the Council on Virginia's Future? We will ask Virginia Governor Tim Kaine 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 on location today in Richmond, Virginia.

I'm your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.

Governor Kaine, what is the Council on Virginia's Future? Could you tell us about its purpose, how it's organized, and what role it plays in executing the Roadmap for Virginia's future?

Governor Kaine: Certainly. The Council on Virginia's Future is an organization that was created by legislative mandate with the support of then Governor Warner to bring together around a table key stakeholders who want Virginia to be successful, to really look at what are the elements that we really need to focus on to ensure long-term success, not short-term within an election cycle, but long-term success.

The idea was that we didn't have in state government that kind of long-term planning; that there wasn't a clear bull's eye for state government. You know, a business has a bull's eye usually and bottom line most organizations have a bull's eye, but the state is so large and complex with so many agencies trying to do so many things, what's the bull's eye? What are we really trying to aim towards?

And so that realization through the powerful lobbying of some private citizens who wanted Virginia to adopt these long-term management practices led to the formation of the Council.

The Council is composed of private sector leaders, from the non-profit world, from the business world. The Governor is always, you know, kind of the chair of the Council. And then there's key representation from the legislature as well. And that Council is a forum for dialogue, again about a couple of different things.

What does it mean for us to be successful? How do we define success? How do we set long-term goals for success?

The Council has some other work as well. I view the long-term goal setting as the most critical, 'cause it doesn't really happen anywhere else.

But the Council has some other important work as well. They push us toward better accountability and trying to find efficiencies and improvements to government with private sector expertise around the table. There's a lot of great ideas that come out around that.

They work with reminding us in a very helpful way that success that you might see at the state-wide level, so low unemployment rate. Virginia's unemployment rate is one of the lowest in the nation. You can't be complacent about that because there are regions where the unemployment rate is too high. So the Council helps us remember that averages can mask some --

Mr. Morales: Sure.

Governor Kaine: --challenges. And so they serve a very valuable role in helping us set goals, but then really giving us a real-world reality check about how we're doing.

Mr. Morales: Great. Now earlier you spent some time talking about leadership. Could you elaborate and describe Virginia's performance leadership model? How does such a model address challenges that are unique to state government?

Governor Kaine: We focus on performance leadership in budgeting and policy development in a couple of different ways.

First, we try to define what success is, you know, what are the areas where we want to succeed. So often in organizations, you'll define success by, like, how hard you're trying; how many meetings you're having, you know. And we try to break out of that and define success by external indicators. What's the state's median income? What's the state's unemployment rate? What percentage of our kids take and pass AP exams when they're in high school?

We want to use measures that really define, you know, real-world success, not internal process --

Mr. Morales: So real outcome measures?

Governor Kaine: --measures of success. Outcome measures.

That's where the, you know, kind of performance leadership begins. The Council's been enormously helpful on this in working with something called Virginia performs trying to put information, you know, put the key indicators out there that define what success is.

So that's where it begins. At a societal level, what do we want to see at the state level to know whether we're succeeding and also where we're weak. You know, there are areas where you want to be successful and you find out you're not. That then becomes a magnet for your attention and energy so that you can try to improve.

So there is the macro level societal success and performance. Then there's also the performance within each state agency.

And so what I've done with my Cabinet Secretary and with my agency heads in my first year as Governor, I spent a lot of time with them on what are your goals, you know? Remember I go back to my goals plus relationships. I said we'll spend the first year on defining goals, and then we'll spend three years enhancing collaboration, the relationships needed to accomplish the goals.

And so we spent a lot of time at the agency level so that the agencies can try to express their missions in a set of few focused goals with here's where we are today and here's where we ought to be in the next few years so that then I can measure their performance against those key goals. When they give me budget submissions, I can look at the budget submissions and say, well, that doesn't really seem to be -- you told me what was important to you in your goals. This budget submission doesn't seem to be advancing that goal. Tell me how it is.

And so the second kind of key level on the performance leadership side is working with agencies and Cabinet Secretaries on goal setting for their own functions.

Mr. Morales: Now, Governor, driving collaboration sounds very fundamental, but how do you do that within such a large organization?

Governor Kaine: Well, it's hard. I think that is in some ways one of the hardest things because, you know, just again, you get -- people get sunk into the challenge of doing their day-to-day work, which is plentiful, and the opportunities, you know, to -- well, let's see; let me get on the phone with a guy in another agency and figure out if we can do it better together. I'd like to do that. I just got to get done with all my work and then I'll find time to do it.

So it's pushing the collaboration has proven to be a real challenge. But one of the ways you do it is you reward collaboration where it exists. So there's great examples of collaboration all throughout state government -- people working on joint projects. And I always try to, you know, I don't -- just in a kind of an enthusiasm and cheerleading way gives those a little bit of a higher profile and recognize them to encourage others to do the same.

We also need to examine state policies and things like that. There are state policies that prohibit or discourage collaboration. Two of my social service agencies, Martinsville and Henry County in Southside, Virginia, combined because they realized in that small metropolitan area, there wasn't a real functional difference between the needs of the population depending upon the dotted line and where the jurisdictions were. And I remember saying to them, wow, you're doing this in a collaborative way. You've combined. I bet the state was really happy of that. And they said, no, to the contrary. The state made it hard for us to do it. We still have to kind of keep two sets of books, but we did it anyway because we thought it was important to do.

Well, we have to find examples like that in state government. We have to put financial incentives in place that reward collaboration, and that's, as I'm working on the budget for next year, one of the things I've charged my agency heads as we're going to give a -- you know, we're going to give a premium to those of you that are bringing forward collaborative projects.

Mr. Morales: So it's not only encouraging collaboration, but it's also breaking down the barriers that inhibit collaboration within --

Governor Kaine: Right.

Mr. Morales: --the organization?

Governor Kaine: Yeah. I think there's, you know, there are sticks that we got to move out, and then there are carrots that we have to provide. And both of those I think, you know, there's a lot of work to be done.

Mr. Morales: That's a great analogy. Now you've inherited some transformational initiatives that began during previous administrations, which either employed the advantages of information technology --

Governor Kaine: Right.

Mr. Morales: --or will need information technology to be successful.

Governor Kaine: Mm hmm.

Mr. Morales: Could you tell us about the role IT advances play in the success of your performance management efforts? And to what extent does IT enhance or enable performance management efforts?

Governor Kaine: Well, it enhances and enables them to a high degree. And you're right. You know, one of the interesting things about a single four-year term is you're always inheriting a lot of things from your predecessor, and hopefully leaving some things to your successor.

Governor Warner did a really good job on many of these management areas, a number of them, but in particular Governor Warner realized that technology was very diffuse across state government and so you had a common feature would often be an agency that had a lot of money at year end because maybe they had saved money or had been efficient with it. Boy, year end, let's buy some technology.

And so you would have uncoordinated technology purchases occurring that might suit the particular agency but wouldn't necessarily communicate well or match with other agencies were doing. It might or might not be the best deal for that particular technology solution.

So Governor Warner decided he really needed to move toward a centralized assessment of technology to make sure that we were building a platform that was somewhat consistent. He created a Virginia Information Technology Agency, VITA, pulled a lot of the technology resources into a more central form. And then, through an innovative partnership with a private company, Northrop Grumman, by the way Virginia's largest employer, a lot of the VITA employees have now transitioned to private employment, and they are serving the state from the platform of the private sector using the innovations that the private sector can provide.

As you might imagine, this hasn't just, you know, moved completely seamlessly and easily. There's been some bumps along the way, but we feel like we're getting the advantage of kind of a private sector analysis of what the right technology solutions are, which enable us to be again more standardized and hopefully serve our citizens better.

And technology the way we look at it it's sort of -- it's three things. It's one, serving citizens better; enabling agencies within state government to work better together. And then, if you -- doing both of those things, we also feel like if we do those things, we can elevate Virginia's profile as a technology state for economic development purposes. We got some great technology companies here -- information technology, communications technology, you know, biotechnology. The higher profile we have as a technology success, the better I can be a salesman to get other technology businesses to locate in Virginia.

So we're doing it for a lot of different reasons.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic. So you're really taking a holistic view of technology as an enabler both in terms of how you serve your citizens, in terms of how you manage your organization, and as well as a way of attracting more business to the state?

Governor Kaine: Yeah. Creating technology opportunities for our citizens. We're one of the -- we are, if not, the highest, certainly one of the highest states in the nation in terms of the percentage of employment in Virginia that is in the technology sector. That's the right bet, you know, to be making for tomorrow, and we want to continue that trend and using technology in some innovative ways in state government helps build that, you know, overall capacity.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic. I want to go back to the Council. Could you elaborate on the purpose of the Council's results teams? How will these teams be used to drive strategic change in state government operations and in the Commonwealth's quality of life?

Governor Kaine: You know, back to the discussion about the Council, we set -- we list the goals that we think are the, you know, big picture goals that measure the state of the Commonwealth and the Council has been very key in choosing those goals, trying to summarize success on one page, basically the lead page of the Council's Virginia Performs web site. But we're also aware that just setting a goal and saying, okay, let's see how we do against the goal that might not be enough to really progress toward the goal.

So one of the things that the Council has had the idea is results teams in a few of the key indicators. So we might not put a results team together on all of them, but let's pick a few. I'm really fond of third-grade reading scores as a spectacular indicator, because it tells you something about today, but it also tells you something about tomorrow and what you're going to be experiencing down the road.

The idea of a results team would be let's pull together again public and private sector resources around a key indicator like that and say if we really wanted to -- when I began as governor, for example, 26 percent of Virginia third-graders failed our third-grade reading exam. Last year, that dropped to 17 percent, which was great. We're not sure whether that was a -- just a one-year aberration or whether it's, you know, a meaningful trend, and we'll see that this year.

But I've told my Superintendent of Public Instruction, I want you to drop that to under 10 percent by the time I leave the Governor's office, which is a huge thing to move that far.

We -- we're not going to be able to get from 26 percent to under 10 without some organized brain power around just that issue: what do you do to really drive that number? That's the idea of results teams -- pulling brain power together around the real key indicators.

We've talked about -- another one that we've talked about is recidivism and maybe particularly recidivism for juvenile offenders. We know what the rates are now. We know that if we can drop the recidivism rate now, that's probably not only a good strategy for individuals leading more satisfactory lives, but it's probably the best thing we could do for future public safety success.

So again, pulling a results team together around that challenge using public and private sector expertise that's what the results team concept is for.

Mr. Morales: So as well as driving a wide set of issues, you've chosen to dive very deeply on some core issues?

Governor Kaine: Yeah. That is --

Mr. Morales: And it sounds like some of these issues are in areas that are going to have future impact, so there's a multiplier effect to that?

Governor Kaine: Right. Yeah, that -- yeah, that would be the goal is that we can't go deep on every indicator that would tell you what success, but if we can, you know, choose a couple and really go deep on those, the ones that are really likely to have a future effect are the ones that, you know, we're most interested in.

Mr. Morales: Fantastic. Now annually, the Council submits two distinct reports. One is the Virginia Scorecard. And the second is the Virginia Report?

Governor Kaine: Right.

Mr. Morales: Could you tell us more about each of these two key reports and how do you know if you're making progress towards your longer term goals?

Governor Kaine: The Virginia Report is really the annual report of all of the Council's activities, and so it would be kind of the equivalent of the annual report of the organization itself. What did the organization do? Who was engaged, you know, on the results teams? What are the areas we're looking at? They would give the kind of narrative report of their activities for the past year.

The report card is not a report on the Council. It's a report on the state. And again, let's go back to we're not successful based on how hard we're working. We're successful based on what are the societal measures -- you know, unemployment rate. Where's it gone in the last year? Tax burden. Where's it gone in the last year? Reading scores. Where's it gone? You know, our bond rating. Where's it gone?

So the report card really looks at these, you know, external measures that really show are we moving the needle in the real world. In that sense, that report card is incredibly valuable, because, again, we see areas where we are moving the needle and we feel good about that. We also see areas where we're not or maybe we're not to the degree that we want to, and then those areas become kind of again, kind of a magnet for our attention and hopefully, you know, kind of brain power and resources.

Mr. Morales: So it lets you focus your precious few resources on areas where you know that they need more attention?

Governor Kaine: Yeah. There's a great, you know, great Thomas Edison quote: "discontent is the first sign of progress." And, you know, if something isn't bugging you, like, why this -- you know, this should be better, that's kind of where a lot of progress starts is that something -- you look at something and it's not where you think it ought to be, and then that kind of encourages you then to spend more time in that area.

Mr. Morales: Fantastic. What is the Governor's Management Scorecard and how does it foster accountability. We will ask Virginia Governor Tim Kaine 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 on location today in Richmond, Virginia, in the Old Supreme Court Chambers in the Patrick Henry Building.

I am your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.

Governor, the Virginia legislature has adopted a state version of the Federal Government Performance and Results Act. Could you tell us a little bit about your efforts to work closely during your first year as governor with the state agencies to more clearly define goals for the Commonwealth?

Governor Kaine: Sure. When I was elected governor, I had a series of meetings with each Cabinet Secretary, and they brought all their agency heads in, and so we would actually in this very room we would sit around and we would talk about previous efforts to define goals. And at the time, there had been goal setting efforts that weren't particularly linked to budgeting, and also a weakness I thought of the goal-setting efforts was each agency had too many goals, and, you know, if you're trying to shoot at too many targets at once, it's hard to have the sustained progress for the ones that are most critical.

So I spent time with all of the agencies trying to get them to take the numerous goals and just, you know, give me what you think -- you know, no more than five and hopefully no more than three what you think are the key goals that express the core mission of your agency and what is the appropriate measure for that goal. Where are you now? Where do you want to be in three or four years?

That was enormously helpful because, you know, some agencies did that and did it very well. Some, you know, frankly would give me goals that were much more internal process goals rather than outcome goals. Some gave me goals that I would look at and think, well, gosh, I don't really think that's the core mission of your agency. I mean, I could see that you would have that as a goal, but that doesn't really -- if a citizen saw that goal, they wouldn't say well, that's the core mission of, you know, this or that agency.

So it was a very helpful kind of dialogue and a reiterative process as we kind of improved, adjusted, modified. But again, the purpose of it all is to have each agency kind of express its core mission and express it in a way where I can use it to manage and the citizens can use it to determine kind of accountability and how we're succeeding.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic. I mean, so many times organizations have a multitude of goals that at the end of the day really don't tell you a whole lot about the organization, much less to an outside constituent who is critical about what the organization is doing.

Governor Kaine: When I got elected to the City Council of Richmond in 1994, I realized that, with some other Council members who were really smart at this stuff, who were coming in new, that there was no strategic plan.

So we started to do strategic planning, and the first few were kind of laughable because there'd be nine City Council members. They would each have 10 goals and so we'd have 90 goals in the strategic plan.

Well, we laugh at that now. What we realized over the course of time that 90 goals was no strategic plan.

By the time I finished my time in local government as mayor, you know, we would have a strategic plan over not a one-year, but a two-year cycle. It would just have, you know, three or four goals to it.

And again, focusing on the areas where we most needed improvement. And we put good people in place to try to run everything, but the areas where we most needed improvement, we would really set strategic goals, and there's been some of that same effort with our agencies.

Mr. Morales: Great. Now the Council is undertaking initiatives to promote citizen engagement. One step is to make information highly transparent --

Governor Kaine: Yeah.

Mr. Morales: --and visible.

Governor Kaine: Mm hmm.

Mr. Morales: To that end, you created a website called Virginia Performs.

Governor Kaine: Right.

Mr. Morales: Could you elaborate on your efforts to engage citizens, and what additional steps do you envision to foster more citizen participation?

Governor Kaine: This is a very critical thing, so I'll talk a minute about Virginia performs and then this effort to create civic engagement.

Virginia Performs is an effort to make all this information about are we succeeding or aren't we, where are we weak, where are we strong, what are the goals we're shooting for to make it all available to every citizen, every, you know, newspaper reporter, anybody writing a class report about, you know, performance in a public administration class on a campus, to make it all available and easy for citizens to understand.

And so the Virginia Performs website, and you can just, you know, Google Virginia Performs, and you'll find it, is a great website that puts all this information about state government in real-time right in your hands.

It divides the functions of state government into, you know, a set number of categories, six or seven. Within each category, there's a few data indicators that show what -- here's why we think this is important. Here's what this particular measure will tell us. Here's where we are right now in each measure. It shows where Virginia is against surrounding states, where Virginia is against the leading state in the nation. The data then will separate Virginia into regions to show the disparities among regions in that particular area.

And so it's a very, very powerful website in giving information about whether we're successful or not.

The website also links into all these agency goals that I mentioned. So you want to know something about a particular agency, great. You can get into that agency, see what their goals are, see how they're doing. Say you don't know what the agencies' names are, but you want to know well, are their goals dealing workforce development. You punch in workforce development, and it will pull up the different agencies that do workforce development as part of their key goal and how they're doing.

So there's a variety of ways to search for information and get answers. But it's all designed to hold out this notion of, you know, performance matters to all citizens so that they can use it and they can hold us accountable.

Mr. Morales: Great. Now what about citizen participation?

Governor Kaine: Citizen participation. We all have a feeling that the decline in citizen participation poses a real threat to being successful.

I mean, just a little illustration: my father-in-law was governor of Virginia. He was elected in 1969. And when he was elected, in that election, about 67 or 68 percent of registered voters in Virginia turned out to vote.

Now I was elected governor in 2005. By the time I was elected, about 46 percent of registered voters turned out to vote. If that continues to erode, I was giving a graduation speech recently to a high school, and I said, we will have to create a new word because there have been governments throughout time where a few people have run things without any input, but there's never been a system of government where there was near universal ability to participate, but the vast majority of people said, I can't be bothered with that, and chose not to participate.

So we'll have invented a new form of government, and I hope we don't get to that point. So we have a sense that decline in citizen involvement is a threat to democracy, you know, bluntly.

And so the idea of a Virginia Performs is one way to engage people is to let them have information so that they don't feel like the state government is this big monolithic thing, and in a bunch of big buildings down in Richmond, and not accessible to them.

If we can give them information, that will be one way to engage them. There's also an effort underway by the Council to, you know, go out into the regions, share the story about the Virginia Performs, share the story in the region about it, and you can get regional data, too, that will help your local officials make good policy decisions; and to get just was we're setting goals for the -- you know, we have a results team for these state goals that we want to hit. Well maybe in the region you ought to pick a couple of things that are really important to your region and try to, again, in a collaborative way, pull people around the table to go after improvements.

Mr. Morales: That's great. What is the Governor's Management Scorecard or the GMS? Could you describe the scorecard performance categories and the scorecard process? And how does it foster a culture of accountability?

Governor Kaine: Yeah. The Governor's Management Scorecard is another innovation that I've got to give credit to Governor Warner for, who came before me.

His sense was let's put in a fairly clear format, standard expectations of agencies on what I would call the internal procedural goals; you know, are you managing your finances well? Do you have good human resources systems? How about other, you know, internal controls?

And so these are largely internal measures of the management of an agency. These are not the external measures. Are you changing the third-grade reading scores? Are you reducing the recidivism rate? But it is, are you, you know, managing these agencies, which are funded by, you know, people's tax dollars in a smart way.

And so we assess each agency on these criteria, and use that, usually with quarterly data, to try to decide, you know, what agencies are doing well and where are the places where we need to come in and try to help.

Mr. Morales: Great. So could you tell us about your efforts to better link budget with performance? How does the introduction of the service area structure to the state budget assist you in this effort? And what are other plans being pursued to better link the state budget with government?

Governor Kaine: Well, you're asking a very timely question, because I'm working on this right now. And just -- a little bit for listeners. The Virginia governorship is a little odd on budgeting. So we do a two-year budget.

When a governor gets elected, you know, I came into office and a two-year budget had just been prepared and presented to the legislature by my predecessor.

So for my first two years in office, I'm basically dealing with a budget that was prepared by a predecessor, and I have the ability to suggest amendments, et cetera, but it's not really my budget.

Then, beginning of my third year in office, I prepare a two-year budget that is really fully mine, with my agency heads to present to the legislature. And then I prepare one more two-year budget on my way out the door and hand it to the next guy.

So I am right now working on my -- the two-year budget that I will control. And I'm trying to do that in a way that really focuses upon these performance measures and goals that I've had the agencies work on in my first year plus in office.

I've used some of the performance measures already in amending the budget that Governor Warner handed over to me. So, for example, this year, we're in year two, the second year of the biennial budget. Agencies would come in with requests for adjustments and modifications because we had some extra dollars, and I would be able to look at their requests and then look at, well, you just told me these were your main goals. Now I don't see how this request matches up with one of your main goals, so I'm not going to fund it.

Now this request, on the other hand, it does really match up with one of your main goals, and I see how it advances the cause, so I will fund that.

So we use the performance measures that the agencies and their own kind of goals to help make budgetary decisions in amendments to the biennial budget.

But now, I'm really working with agencies over the course of the summer, you know, not really kind of zero-based budgeting, but I want to see -- I don't want to just take what we've done and then try to decide how much we should add or subtract to it based on how much revenue we have. I want you to tell me how what you are doing in each programmatic area advances the goals that you told me were the most important things about your agency.

And if either they don't advance those goals, because they're kind of unrelated to the goals, or you're doing things that, you know, they might be in the same ballpark, but they're not really succeeding; we're not moving the needle the right way; then that gives us ideas about ways we could hopefully redeploy resources to areas that will move the needle more toward the long-term goals that the Council and, you know, and others are, you know, are convinced is the right way for the state to go.

Mr. Morales: Now is this helping to drive culture change within the organization?

Governor Kaine: I think -- it's starting to. I mean, I think there will not be a budget that has been as performance-driven as the budget that I will be introducing to the legislature this December.

And I think people are kind of waking up to the notion. You know, in some ways, until you really link it to budget, people wonder if you're serious or not.

Mr. Morales: Right.

Governor Kaine: And so we're serious this time, and I think people are kind of waking up to that and it's exciting.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic. Now in recent years, government interest in internal control and enhanced disclosure has obviously grown. Could you tell us about Virginia's efforts to ensure fiscal accountability and safeguard the Commonwealth's assets?

Governor Kaine: The management scorecard that I talked about earlier is driven not completely by that, but certainly that that is one of its key functions, so in those internal yardsticks that the management scorecard looks at. The financial controls and -- of agencies are looked at very carefully.

We also have an auditor, you know, who is involved with the agencies and oversight also by the legislature looking at agencies and so there's quite a few eyes, you know, looking at what we do to try to make sure that, you know, we're not making mistakes or things aren't going awry, but certainly from an administrative management standpoint, the management scorecard really is trying to get at that issue of internal financial performance.

Mr. Morales: Now earlier we talked a little bit about societal indicators. And though it's critical to link budget to performance, have you explored leveraging agency performance to make progress against the outcomes for those societal indicators reported on the Virginia Performs website? And, if I may, using your no wrong door initiative --

Mr. Morales: --could you illustrate a direct link between societal based indicators, state agency objectives, and the service area performance measures?

Governor Kaine: Complicated question. So using that as an example, we have a department of state government, the Department of Aging, that, you know, does what it says. It's working with local-based agencies all around the state to try to make sure that we're doing right by our elderly citizens.

One of the agency goals that they have is putting programs in place that will increase the number of older Virginians who are able to live healthy, successful lives in their own homes, so not to have to go to nursing homes or assisted living facilities until really their health needs mandate that they do.

So can we help people live healthily in their own longer in life? And that obviously has huge budgetary ramifications. It has ramifications for people's happiness and life expectancy.

Mr. Morales: Sure.

Governor Kaine: And so that is a goal of a particular agency that obviously ties into a real-world kind of a success, set of success indicators.

The no wrong door initiative is an initiative to try to kind of break through a lot of the silos that exist in state government so that if somebody who's an elderly citizen or a disabled adult accesses the social services network anywhere, that they're not just going to get served in a little way, but they're going to be able to get comprehensive services. Whatever door they come into, they're going to be able to get comprehensive services.

We feel like that kind of a service model will help more people get the services they need, for example, to live healthily in their homes, which will make them happier, which will be budgetarily smart, which will -- you know, increase Virginia's quality of life.

So there's an example of how an agency's particular goal, you know, touches upon real-world phenomenon and a programmatic strategy, the no wrong door effort, which we would need to fund, can advance both the agency goal and the real-world outcome that we want to see.

Mr. Morales: Great. And it also sounds like it brings you back to this theme of collaboration.

Governor Kaine: Absolutely.

Mr. Morales: In the sense that agencies need to collaborate together to provide a very positive experience for the citizens.

Governor Kaine: Right. We, you know, we have a lot of different agencies in the social services world, you know, dealing with bits and pieces of people rather than the whole person. And so that's -- it's a whole person initiative. You're right.

Mr. Morales: It is a very complicated equation.

What about governing in the 21st century? We will ask Virginia Governor Tim Kaine 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 on location today in Richmond, Virginia in the old Supreme Court Chambers in the Patrick Henry Building.

I am your host, Albert Morales, and this morning's conversation is with Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.

Governor, building a new performance leadership system for governing in the 21st century is not an easy task. It requires thinking beyond the traditions and habits that characterize how we work today.

Would you tell us about your efforts to improve leaders and employees with the knowledge, skills, and tools that will help them succeed tomorrow? And how do you reward agencies and individuals for performance

Governor Kaine: Well, that's a real good question, and that's something that the question of rewards for performance is something that I feel like we've just started to talk about, but we need to do a lot more work on.

You know, again, the way you make this work is you try to hire people who you think kind of get it and already are really passionate about it, and I've been fortunate to be able to convince a lot of great people to come into state government who think this way, who want to do this. And the great news is they were already an awful lot of people in state government who were doing this in their own way, willing to embrace it. That's been exciting.

I would say this: that some of the traditional human resource systems you have in public employment need to be rethought along these lines. And, you know, 16 months into the job, I really haven't started doing that yet. I think that's something that we ought to, you know, really contemplate.

When I was in local government and city council and mayor, we put in a performance budgeting system where there were individual bonus potentials for agencies that were high performers, but then there was a separate bonus pool for city employees. If the city achieved its three or four top goals, everybody received an equal share of that bonus pool.

And I really liked that strategy. I will say that the -- it was abandoned when I was no longer mayor, so somebody else didn't like it.

But trying to figure out ways to build in positive incentives, certainly awards and recognition, we're getting good at that. We don't take people for granted so much anymore, and so we do annual -- a really moving annual ceremony to recognize high performers.

But I think our human relations systems and compensation systems still need some, you know, fresh analysis to determine if it really matches up with a performance-based government.

So there's work to be done.

Mr. Morales: Sounds like a -- some challenges for the next few years?

Governor Kaine: Yeah.

Mr. Morales: So along those lines, and we talked about this earlier, the Virginia State Constitution does limit you to one four-year --

Governor Kaine: Right.

Mr. Morales: --term. So how do you hope to institutionalize some of these management reforms beyond your term as governor?

Governor Kaine: That is really a concern. You know, I hope one day Virginia will abandon and go to a two-term governor. That will not happen to affect me, and it'll happen sometime. We're the last state in the nation that does not allow a governor to run for reelection, but it might be a while.

So, right. How do you institutionalize it?

Well, one, the Council is an institutional voice for again long-term planning. That -- the Council has the governor and has legislators, but it also has business sector and other leaders -- private sector leaders who are at the table demanding that we perform.

And so the Council was maybe more needed in Virginia than other states because of the one-term governor to help us focus on the long term. That's one way to try to drive consistency and continuity.

The other way is, you know, everybody in a leadership position has the -- in any organization, has the opportunity to do some things that people will see and say, wow, that's so good. Why would we ever do it any other way?

And if what you do has merit, it will win the converts who will make sure that you don't backslide. If it doesn't have enough merit to win converts, then there might be backsliding, but if it does have enough merit to get people on board, then you won't backslide. And so that's -- you know, that's what I hope to do as governor is just do some things that are so compelling that after they're done, people would look at it and say why would we ever do it any differently?

Mr. Morales: Right. Right. Great. Well, you're clearly tackling some very, very big issues and making tremendous progress.

I'm curious. Have you borrowed some lessons from other states? And more importantly, are you providing inspiration to others?

Governor Kaine: I've certainly borrowed -- yeah, you know, being in elected leadership is, you know, plagiarism is a virtue, not a vice. And we all -- governors -- I mean I go to National Governors Association meetings. We kick around ideas all the time. You know, some of the -- some states that have -- Oregon is a state that has done some long-term planning. Washington has done some long-term planning initiatives. Utah did some long-term planning initiatives--a little bit more around a particular topic, which is land use patterns and development. But there's some applicable lessons that you can generalize to state government performance.

And so certainly a learning what others have done, and I hope. You know, I hope others looking -- look at things that Virginia does and tries to learn from it. I know, again, at NGA meetings and other meetings of governors, you know, I'll often get asked, hey, can you give me a copy of that speech you just gave or I hear about this going on in Virginia. You've done some interesting things in the private financing of transportation infrastructure. We're interested in that. Can you share?

And so we try to share as much as we can, you know. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, so we don't mind being flattered. And if we can give people tools that they can use to serve their citizens, and they imitate Virginia a little bit, hey, that's great.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic. And certainly there's 49 other benchmarks out there that the folks can learn from.

Governor Kaine: Right.

Mr. Morales: Now, Governor, you've had a very successful career in public service, first as an attorney, as mayor, Lieutenant Governor, and now as Governor of Virginia. I'm curious: what advice might you give a person who perhaps is out there considering a role in public service?

Governor Kaine: Well, first, do it. The -- I think in some ways the barriers to public service are getting higher -- financial sacrifice, you know, being in the press and the press can be a little bit merciless.

Hey, we're all going to make mistakes. If you make a mistake in your own personal circle, they will give you the benefit of the doubt. If you're in public life and make a mistake, people don't usually want to give you the benefit of the doubt.

So there are a lot of reasons why it can be hard to be in public service. But it is enormously satisfying.

You know, I don't have any illusions. People have short attention spans, so a few years after I'm governor, you know, most people will look at me and they won't know I was governor. They'll think I did the weather or something.

But I can drive by things in my community that wouldn't be there if it weren't for me. You know, as mayor, I got a bunch of schools built. As governor, I've now seen a college open in a hard-hit part of the state that didn't exist before I really started pushing the idea.

I can drive around my city and around my Commonwealth for the rest of my life and see things that have my thumb print on them. That is an enormously satisfying feeling.

And so for all the, you know, reasons that make it hard to get into public life, what I would say to anybody is that you can make a mark on your community in a way that will give you a feeling of satisfaction that is very, you know, that's just very powerful.

Mr. Morales: That is fantastic. So finally, for those who perhaps do not aspire to a career in government, but are interested in becoming more engaged with their government --

Governor Kaine: Mm hmm.

Mr. Morales: what advice would you have for this group?

Governor Kaine: There's a lot of opportunities, more than you might think. I mean, again, the Council on Virginia's Future that we've been talking about, a very key role. In fact, it really wouldn't be what it is without the private sector folks who are willing to engage to participate.

As Governor of Virginia, I've already done in 16 months probably 1,700 appointments of Virginia citizens to boards and commissions -- part-time, voluntary, on economic development, education, health care, agriculture policy. We get citizens engaged all the time.

At the local level, it's the same, whether it's a library board, a PTA, running for school board. There are so many opportunities, you know, for you to engage. I mean it really is a government by, of, and for the people. I mean, it is of the people. There are opportunities for you to get in and whether you want to spend, you know, an hour a week or full time helping your government be more responsive and do the things that you think ought to be done, there's a lot of opportunities for you.

And they are also very -- some very satisfying opportunities.

Mr. Morales: So there's something out there for everyone?

Governor Kaine: There definitely is. Whatever your interest, there's going to be some area where your talent is going to be put to use in service to your community.

Mr. Morales: That's great. Governor, unfortunately, we have reached the end of our hour together.

I want to thank you for fitting us into your busy schedule, but more importantly, on behalf of The IBM Center for The Business of Government, I would like to thank you for your dedicated service to Virginia as mayor, Lieutenant Governor, and now as the 70th Governor of Virginia.

Governor Kaine: Thanks, Albert, it was really good to visit with you today.

Mr. Morales: This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Virginia Governor Tim Kaine.

As you enjoy the rest of your day, please take time to remember the men and women of our armed and civil services abroad, especially our fellow Virginians, 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.

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

Curtis Coy interview

Friday, October 26th, 2007 - 20:00
Mr. Coy is the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration to Children and Families for the Department of Health and Human Services
Radio show date: 
Sat, 10/27/2007
Intro text: 
Missions and Programs; Human Capital Management; Managing for Performance and Results; ...
Missions and Programs; Human Capital Management; Managing for Performance and Results;
Complete transcript: 

Originally Broadcast October 27, 2007s

Washington, D.C.

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.

Healthy and productive individuals, families and communities are the very foundation of the nation's present and future security and prosperity. The Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Health and Human Services Department partners with state and local governments, for-profits and nonprofit organizations, faith- and community-based organizations and Native American tribes to design, administer and promote programs that strengthen children, families and communities.

With us this morning to discuss ACF's efforts is our special guest, Curt Coy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration at the Administration for Children and Families within the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Good morning, Curt.

Mr. Coy: Good morning.

Mr. Morales: Also joining us in our conversation is Tom Romeo, IBM's general government industry leader.

Good morning, Tom.

Mr. Romeo: Good morning, Al.

Mr. Morales: Curt, let's start by talking about the Administration for Children and Families, otherwise known as ACF. Could you share with us a sense of the history, mission and activities of your organization, and how it supports the overall mission at HHS?

Mr. Coy: I most certainly will, Al. We like to think of ourselves at ACF as the social services of HHS, the Department of Health and Human Services. We're the human services piece of the HHS. Back in 1991, ACF was two different agencies, and they merged into one organization. And since then, as your introduction alluded to, we're principally responsible for those federal programs that promote the economic and social well-being of families and children and individuals.

We have a number of relatively well-known programs, one of which is the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, commonly known as welfare, and other things like child care, child support, child support enforcement, community services. And we also have subagencies like the Administration for Native Americans and the Administration for Developmentally Disabled folks.

Mr. Morales: Now, this is certainly a very broad mission. So can you give us a sense of scale of the organization, how is ACF organized, the size of its budget, number of full-time employees and its geographic footprint?

Mr. Coy: In round numbers, ACF has about 1,250 federal employees, and a probably close to equal number of contractors, maybe a few less. And we are split essentially equally between Washington, D.C., or the central office, and 10 regional offices throughout the country. Depending on how you count them, about 120 different programs, social programs that we administer. And they're made up of all kind of programs; discretionary, mandatory, entitlement programs, research and development. Every kind of grant-type program there is, we manage at ACF.

Our current budget is somewhere around $47 billion, which makes ACF the second largest agency within the Department of Health and Human Services after Medicare and Medicaid folks within HHS. Our budget, just to put in some degree of context, is bigger than the National Institutes for Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Health Resources Services Administration combined.

Mr. Morales: That's a lot of money and programs to manage with a seemingly modest number of resources.

Mr. Coy: We like to pride ourselves on being able to manage these programs. In reality, ACF is about 2.1 percent of the entire HHS population, but we're managing probably more programs and more dollars than any agency within HHS.

Mr. Romeo: Curt, thanks for providing us with that sense of the organization. Perhaps now you could tell us a little bit more about your area and specific role within ACF. What are your specific responsibilities and duties as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration? And maybe you could tell us a little bit about the areas under your purview.

Mr. Coy: I sure will, Tom. The Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration, for all intents and purposes, is the chief operating officer of the agency. And you can well imagine all of those sorts of things that come underneath that: resource management, human resources, acquisition, contracts. I also wear the hat of CIO for the Administration for Children and Families. I also wear the hat of CFO, chief financial officer, and the chief grants officer. It's one of the largest grant-making agencies within the federal government. Within my specific office, we have about 220 folks. That's about 100 people here in Washington, D.C. and about 120 in the 10 regional offices that we have throughout the country.

Mr. Romeo: Regarding your responsibilities and duties, what are the top three challenges that you face in your position, and how do you address those challenges?

Mr. Coy: I don't know if these will be in order, but they're the ones that come to mind: first and foremost is the human resource or human capital, and the resource management of how we do our work in ACF. And that's a combination of factors of federal employees, contractor employees, support employees and so on and so forth. ACF's workforce, the demographics of that workforce, is clearly a challenge. It is a maturing workforce. And so getting in good folks and doing good succession planning is a real big challenge.

Most certainly is grants. But we do a lot of grants in ACF, and being able to mange that function effectively, to be good stewards of the taxpayer money, is critically important. On the other side of that fence is the chief financial officer or financial role that I play in ACF. And, again, that's ensuring that we are good stewards of the taxpayer money. But on a practical level, that's the CFO audit, that's all of those things that go with being the CFO.

That's three. And I would add probably two others: the technology challenge. That clearly is critically important as we go down the road and start looking at how we best utilize both our people and our contractors in our systems work.

And then finally, probably one that's more near-term in the next 18 months to two years is sort of stability. And what I mean by that is clearly, the election cycle is upon us, and looking at those challenges as we go down the road and ensuring that we have a stable senior leadership within ACF, and that stable leadership is comprised of both political appointees and career senior managers.

Mr. Morales: Curt, you and I have had the pleasure about 10 years ago of crossing paths, and I know you have a very interesting background. So I'm curious, can you describe for our listeners your career path and how you got started in your career?

Mr. Coy: It's probably one of the stranger career paths. I started out as an enlisted person in the Air Force. For some strange reason, I was accepted into the Naval Academy, graduated from there. Spent the next 20-some years in the Navy as a naval officer; first as a, if you will, a ship driver, and then the last 10 or 15 years as a supply corps officer. Supply corps officers in the Navy are generally considered the business and financial managers of the Navy.

After that, I went to work for Coopers & Lybrand, which then morphed into PricewaterhouseCoopers. I was there for about seven years. I was hired in 2000, in the fall of 2000 to be the director of the HHS Program Support Center, which is about a $400 million fee-for-service organization.

Two years later, I was asked by the new Secretary, then-Secretary Thompson, to become the Deputy Assistant Secretary over at ACF.

So that's the condensed version.

Mr. Morales: That's the Reader's Digest version.

So with all these broad ranges of experience, how has your career, both in the Navy and later on in the private sector, prepared you for your current leadership role and shaped your management style and approach?

Mr. Coy: I don't think any one thing shapes or makes a person what they are now. But there's a lot of background that goes with that. Folks have asked me similar-type questions. My background of being a naval officer is accountability. And that accountability leads to lots of other things.

Probably one of the characteristics that makes a good leader is curiosity. Why do these things work this way? Why do people do things the way they do it? And then probably, I've given a number of lectures at HHS about leadership, and one of the things I tell people is leadership is about taking care of folks. And there is a difference between management and leadership. And I often tell people that management is managing things and leadership is leading people.

Mr. Morales: Great. Thank you.

How is ACF integrating budget and performance information? We will ask Curt Coy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration at the Administration for Children and Families, 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 Curt Coy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration at the Administration for Children and Families. Also joining us in our conversation is Tom Romeo, general government industry leader for IBM.

Curt, let's talk for a moment about the President's Management Agenda, or the PMA. In the last OMB scorecard, about half of the federal agencies, including your department within HHS, received a red rating in financial performance. Could you tell us from your perspective why this is such a challenging area for federal agencies? And second, what has your agency done to contribute to your department's progress and improvement over the last year, so much so that OMB has provided a green rating in progress?

Mr. Coy: Well, that's a long question and an interesting one. In ACF, we've been very successful in the PMA overall. Each quarterly progress rating since 2003, ACF has gotten about 105 out of 109 green progress rating.

With respect to the financial management challenges, just set the stage very, very quickly. The Department of Health and Human Resources is 65,000 employees. In round numbers, their net cost of operations is about $623 billion. HHS also has about 12 operating divisions, of which ACF is one of them, National Institutes for Health is another, and so on and so forth, and about five major accounting centers.

HHS has been working very, very hard to implement a systems-oriented approach to financial management. We have a system called the Unified Financial Management System, but having said what I said about HHS and their budget and the number of divisions, you could say the same thing about the Department of Defense and Homeland Security. The complexity of these organizations is clearly a challenge.

What PMA does is they assign scorecard ratings of red, yellow, and green. And then they divide that further every quarter into progress ratings and status ratings. Right now, HHS is green in progress and red in status. The red in status is in large part due that we're not finished with our UFMS implementation.

The challenge of implementing the state-of-the-art sort of systems environment is exasperated by the size and complexity of what HHS does, or the other federal agencies that are red. But the good news is, as you look at HHS, the progress ratings -- and what progress does is says you're moving toward and doing the right things. And what's exciting about that is HHS has been receiving these green progress ratings. In other words, we're hitting the milestones.

So financial management is not just the CFO audit. It's also looking at how do we develop and adapt a world class financial management system and practices, and use that information on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.

Mr. Morales: Now, could you talk a little bit about budget and good practices? Budget and performance integration lies at the heart of ensuring both strategic allocation and the efficient use of funds. Many organizations are working to implement the budget and performance integration aspects of the PMA.

But can you tell us about your agency's efforts to get to green and sustain for the budgeting and performance integration? And how has your organization expanded the use of financial data to inform the management decision-making process?

Mr. Coy: Our President's Management Agenda scorecard with respect to budget and performance integration is we have a green in status and we have a green in progress.

First and foremost is probably our PART success. And the PART is the Program Assessment Rating Tool. We are also using financial data to inform management on a number of things, such that we turn things around and use financial data to make decisions.

And I'll give you two or three examples. We use financial data to look at or improve program oversight, debt collection, implement actions resulting in cost savings to the agency. And some of these things are as mundane as prioritizing site visits to grantees, decreasing the number of open or active grants.

I will tell you, in ACF, we have a real success story with respect to grant audits. We've closed over 7,000 grant audits in the last three or four years. We've made a concerted effort to use that financial data to close out a number of our grant audits. We also improved our single audit compliance supplements and a number of our internal controls. Our Child Support Enforcement folks use the information out of UFMS almost on a daily and weekly basis to do forecasting, to take a look at actual expenditures, to take a look at how we prioritize conference spending and travel, and the list goes on and on and on.

The good news is, in all honesty, the use of financial information in today's government is critical. And I don't know that we're proud that we're using it. It's a practical application of what we have to do. And we have to do that because we don't have the kind of people -- numbers -- that we used to.

In the good old days, if you will, it was kind of fun and interesting and easy to have people with spreadsheets and keeping track of all of these things. And we don't have that luxury anymore. But again, it goes back to technology making things happen a little bit better and faster.

Mr. Morales: Now, Curt, earlier in describing your career, you used the word "accountability." So I find it interesting that your organization has received an unqualified opinion on its principal financial statements for the eighth consecutive year, I believe, which clearly demonstrates a pattern of financial accountability. What is the significance of having this clean opinion? And what are the keys to successfully achieving a timely and clean opinion?

Mr. Coy: Well, first, the significance to me is it clearly shows that we're working hard to be good stewards of the taxpayer money. It's not just simply making sure all the numbers are in the right columns or in the right categories. The CFO audit has become so much more than that. It shows that we're a professional organization, that we take pride in what we do, and we stay on these things.

And that's probably the next thing you have to remember: you got to keep up with this year-round. This is not a two-week drill at the end of the fiscal year. This is something that you do over and over and over again throughout the entire year. And probably most importantly is we've been -- knock on wood -- pretty fortunate to have some very, very sharp folks working on this. I think the success of any program in any organization, whether it's in the private sector or public sector, is dependent upon having good folks. And we have some incredibly sharp people that are doing these things, and they're incredibly dedicated.

Mr. Romeo: Curt, part of that accountability is around improper payments. And agencies are required to annually review programs to identify those susceptible to significant improper payments. Improper payments can include payments made in the wrong amount, to an ineligible recipient, or improperly used by the recipient.

Can you elaborate a little bit on the initiatives and strategies that the department has employed to manage and reduce improper payments? Tell us a little bit about the progress you've made. I think the progress you've made in the other areas is very impressive. And then talk a little bit about how much of a challenge that effort still presents to your agency.

Mr. Coy: In HHS, we have about seven programs that are tracked by the Department or OMB, the Office of Management and Budget. Of those seven programs, Medicare and SCHIP, and so on are some of the others -- but ACF owns four of them; the TANF program, which is welfare, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, our child care program, our foster care program, and our Head Start program. And we also have an improper payments initiative called PARIS. I'm going to talk about that in a few minutes as well.

But the fact of the matter is these four programs are integral to the Department of Health and Human Services' improper payments initiative. And each one presents a different challenge. For example, for the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, or welfare, that's principally a block grant program that goes out to states. The federal government, for all intents and purposes, does some oversight of that program. But it's left principally up to the states to develop their own welfare programs. That was part of welfare reform back in 1996, and was reinforced again by the reauthorization just last year.

When you say improper payments, we shouldn't be giving money out to the wrong people in the wrong amounts of money. For example, TANF, each state has different eligibility requirements. And so do you measure those that are ineligible, do you measure how many improper payments go to people that aren't supposed to be getting it? Just coming up with those kind of small nuances is critically challenging, if you will.

On the flip side of that is the Head Start program, which is a lot more discretionary program. And what we've done is we've developed an error rate, and we're reporting these things in our budget on a yearly basis. And so -- in each one of these things, they're each done separately.

Now, we've also done about 7 to 15, depending on how you count it, risk assessments of programs that we also have. And we are very serious about it. ACF deserves a lot of credit, those program folks deserve a lot of credit for coming up with strategies to implement the 2002 law.

Mr. Romeo: I can see where, with as many programs as the ACF oversees, it could be a real challenge to track payments across all of those and ensure the correct payments, especially with the number of people that you have as employees.

Mr. Coy: Well, it really is a challenge, because each of these four programs are entirely different, so you can't measure improper payments in Head Start the same way you might measure improper payments in the welfare program. And then there is the child care program and the foster care program. And they're all different size budgets, but they all go out and they're managed by states. The Head Start program is managed by Head Start grantees. And so you can imagine the rolling effect of this.

But what's also interesting is watching the end users of this improper payments initiative and that cultural change, because their first instinct was, "We don't want to have anything to do with this. It's not my problem. That's a federal government problem." Then it went to, "Well, I really don't want anybody to know my error rate." "Who wants to be told what your error rate is? I don't care if it's 1 percent or 50 percent. Nobody wants to be told that you have an error rate."

And that cultural shift is changing now, such that you see things, the nuances of seeing state and local websites that say, "And we're doing these things to support the President's Management Agenda." Or "We're doing these things," maybe not necessarily to support it, but in response to the President's Management Agenda, or in response to the Improper Payments Act.

And we've taken it from, if you will, an environment, I think anyway, that is negative in nature, such that it's now looked at in terms of, "This is critically important." It doesn't mean that you're going to get back all of this money. It doesn't mean that there is going to be billions of dollars that gets poured back into the federal treasury. But what it means is that we, as good stewards of the taxpayer, both at the federal level and at the state and the grantee level, are paying attention to this. And I think that's really the cultural change that one's looking for.

Mr. Romeo: I think the effective application of those dollars to the people they're intended for is a very positive outcome of the programs that you're running.

Mr. Coy: Well, if you look at any one of these significant Improper Payments initiatives, for every dollar that is not spent in the wrong areas is another dollar that can be spent on a Head Start grantee or can be spent on the state's welfare system, can be spent in child care and foster care.

Mr. Romeo: One other area of assessment is the PART tool. So in 2003, the Office of Management and Budget initiated its Program Assessment Rating Tool, commonly referred to as PART. It places greater emphasis on results and outcomes rather than processes and outputs. Can you tell us a little bit about how your agency has performed under the PART? And how has PART enhanced your agency's performance management efforts?

Mr. Coy: PART is rather interesting, and it started out rather slow. And the concept is, "We're not going to just give you money. And to fix your program, we're going to have to give you more money."

What the Program Assessment Rating Tool tries to do is take a look at the intent of the program, and is the program successful with respect to the intent of that program. And so they break PART down into about 25 questions and its four different areas, with the first and fourth section the most important. And then they rate each program as effective, moderately effective, adequate, ineffective, or results not demonstrated.

In ACF, we have had the absolute pleasure of being, if you will, "PARTed" 27 times in the last several years. And we've gotten the following ratings: three were effective, that's the highest score you can get. Eight were moderately effective; that's, if you will, a, b, c, that's the b of things. Seven were adequate. Nine were results not demonstrated. And none of them were ineffective.

We have a great deal of pride that our Child Support Enforcement program scored about 90 percent, which is the highest score for any social services program within the federal government, period, bar none. About 98 percent of ACS performance measures track outcomes rather than outputs. While it may sound like a nuanced response, measuring outcomes instead of how many widgets are you producing with this money and so on, but what is it that you're actually getting for this program, is critically important. And we've seen this success translate into green PMA scores in status and progress.

Our PART team within ACF recently got a Secretary's Distinguished Honor Award. And the other good news is our PART scores are improving. Over the course of 2002 through 2005, we had about 57 percent of our programs that were evaluated rated as results not demonstrated. For the period of 2006 and 2007, only about 12 percent of those scores were results not demonstrated.

So what it shows is two things: first is, there is a little bit of science that goes into the rating tool. But it also points out that you may need to make changes into your program to get the results that you're looking for. And we've used this tool, and now we've inculcated it into our budget and into all of our budget documentations.

Mr. Morales: Curt, we only have about another minute left in this segment. But I do want to ask you about grants management. The grants management line of business seeks to establish a government-wide solution to support the end-to-end grants management activities.

Now, earlier, you mentioned that ACF is perhaps the second largest of the grant-making agencies within the federal government, just behind CMS. Could you tell us about your agency's efforts to become a grants line of management shared services provider within the federal government?

Mr. Coy: We are one of three agencies selected by the Office of Management and Budget to be a Center of Excellence for grant systems processing.

A couple of years ago, in the essence of time here, OMB asked agencies and the private sector to submit proposals to be a Center of Excellence. We did. We were successful. And so now we have about eight different partner agencies. We process about $59 billion in grants through our system alone.

The net operating costs remain at $5 to $6 million a year, which is, if you go look at some of the other grant systems in the federal government, about 10 times less than them. And we got into it for in large part selfish reasons. As you indicated, we're one of the largest grant-making organizations in the federal government. And one could even argue that the Medicaid, Medicare services-type things aren't pure grants as we know them as grants.

We were the big dog, if you will, with respect to the number of grants that were put out -- both in dollars principally. And we thought we had a pretty good system. We wanted to become a Center of Excellence so we wouldn't have to go to anybody else. But the key concepts of the whole Center of Excellence that we've inculcated into ACF is, we look at it as a partnership with our folks that are part of us. It's a shared cost. The overall operating costs are about $5 or $6 million. If you do half of the grant transactions through there, then you pay half the cost.

ACF used to pay the full freight of that $5 or $6 million. Now we pay about 60 percent of it. That money that is physically saved goes back into any number of things, whether it be more grants, whether it be more training opportunities, whether it be more travel opportunities. And so being one of the Centers of Excellence has been really successful for us.

And we've been recognized with a number of awards. We got just this past fall a President's Quality Award, which was HHS' very first President's Quality Award. We've also gotten just recently the Civilian Leadership in Enterprise Architecture Award, presented by the E-Gov Institute.

We were also given the National Grants Contract Management Association Award for Electronic Solutions just this year in April. So we're pretty excited about that.

Mr. Morales: Great, excellent.

What about the Faith-based and Community Initiative? We will ask Curt Coy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration at the Administration for Children and Families, 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 Curt Coy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration at the Administration for Children and Families.

Also joining us in our conversation from IBM is Tom Romeo.

Curt, discretionary grants permit the federal government to exercise judgment or discretion in selecting the applicant or recipient organization through a competitive grant process. In the last fiscal year, the agency provided substantial discretionary grants awards. Could you tell us about the agency's effort to ensure efficiency and manage or reduce risk in this area?

Mr. Coy: I sure can. Let me give you the broad picture. In round numbers, ACF awards about 7,700 grants a year. That's about 20,000 transactions when you add in all of the MODs and this and thats to them, for a total cost of about $47 billion of grants. Of those, about 3,000 of those are discretionary grants, and about 8,800 transactions, worth about $7.5 billion.

And we have a very structured and rigid process with respect to providing discretionary grants. And it all starts with the program announcement. In the contracts world, that's called the Request for Proposal. By the time we get it on the street, it has been vetted by a number of folks. And the program announcement clearly indicates what you're looking for, so that it's critically important that this program announcement be very clear and hopefully very crisp.

In almost every case, we have panels of outside civilians, non-feds, that sit on the panels and evaluate these proposals. And we come up with a rating and ranking list based upon those evaluations. And so they're independent panels overseen by the feds. And so the panel is done. We normalize those scores across panels. And you sort of draw the line on how much money do you have for that particular program. And you draw the line and everybody below the line is not funded, and everybody above the line is funded.

Those grants that we think we're going to fund, we make sure that perhaps there is a geographic distribution that's there. You don't want to have two highly rated grant proposals but they're right next door to each other in the same city, state. You want to try and spread opportunities out across geographic areas.

You also take a look at those grants or proposed grantees and see how they're performing. There are some grantees that are on watch lists because of audits and so on and so forth. So we take a look at it from that aspect.

Once we get done with all of that, that list is then vetted through the grants officers. So the program staff puts it together. Once those two pieces come together, the program staff and the grants staff, and that list is finally established, it comes to me. As the chief grants officer, I take a look at it. Then it goes to the Assistant Secretary. The Assistant Secretary looks at it. And then once the Assistant Secretary says, "Yes, check," then those grants are sent over to the department for sort of one last vetting before we actually make the grants.

Mr. Romeo: Curt, President Bush's Faith-based and Community Initiative represents a new approach to government's role in helping those in need, through its oversight and implementation of key elements of the initiatives agenda. Would you elaborate on how ACF has significantly expanded the number of faith-based communities partnering with HHS?

Mr. Coy: Well, you're hitting on all of the ACF milestones here. ACF is one of the leaders with respect to the President's Faith-Based and Community Initiative programs. And we have a whole wide variety of them, ranging from the Mentoring Children of Prisoners, which the President spoke about in his State of the Union address a couple of years ago, the Healthy Marriage Initiative, the Fatherhood Initiative, the Compassion Capital Fund.

And all of these programs are meant to further the President's Faith-Based and Community Initiative program. And they do it by a number of different areas. Our Compassion Capital Fund initiative, if you will, is sort of a two-part initiative. One is to set up intermediary organizations to help these grassroots, faith-based and community associations apply for federal grants. And so we've been very successful in awarding grants to these intermediary organizations whose sole function is to help those organizations do just that.

We also have another component of the Compassion Capital Fund. We call them mini-grants. And they are $50,000 one-time grants to help a faith-based or community organization in any number of things. And we evaluate those. We started out with, in round numbers, about 52 of them. And in this last year, we gave out about 310. And they range from things -- simple examples of, "Gee whiz, I really could use a new van to get folks from here to there. And that would help my faith-based and community organization do this and that. So I need $47,000 or whatever the number is to do that." "I need a new computer system and printer to be able to print up flyers and so on, so I can do outreach to these folks."

Whatever you might imagine $50,000 might account for, people apply -- and we've given out close to 1,000 of these $50,000 grants, which -- when you think of the federal government, they're worth billions and millions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of dollars. But $50,000 will go a long ways to help one of these organizations. And that might be just the thing that kind of kicks them over the top when it comes to that. So we're very proud of that type of situation.

Our Mentoring Children of Prisoners, as I alluded to, what that does is it gives grants to community organizations that provide children and youth of incarcerated parents with mentors. And we're looking at these kinds of things and seeing very, very positive results when it comes to having good mentors to folks who have kids but are incarcerated.

As well, the Deficit Reduction Act, or TANF, which was reauthorized last year, included about $150 million to support programs that were designed to help couples form and sustain healthy marriages. And so many of these kinds of grants with respect to that are faith-based and community-type grants.

But one of the things that we try not to do is we don't discriminate one from another. What we are trying to do is make sure that faith-based organizations can apply for federal funds just like anybody else. And that's the thrust of what the President's initiative of faith-based is.

So our coalition partners include local governments. They include civic groups; they include churches. They include ethnic and immigrant groups, women's organizations, labor organizations, immigration organizations, community health providers, faith-based organizations, nonprofit social services. And so it's a large encompassing program that we've taken a great deal of pride on its success in the last several years.

Mr. Romeo: Curt, another area that your department has made progress in is improving its real property asset management and rightsizing your asset inventory. Would you talk about how your agency has contributed to the Department's efforts in this area?

Mr. Coy: Well, the Department has a large real property inventory. Under the leadership of the Assistant Secretary Joe Ellis, we have really come a long ways in managing this property. If you sort of think about it, we have the Indian Health Service and the Department of Health and Human Services. They have anything from hospitals to warehouses to all kinds of things.

We're developing a computer-based organization that tracks leased property and owned property by the government, and starting to look at how we manage this property in a much better fashion. Within ACF, we're relatively easy. So I would like to say that we contributed significantly to HHS. But we don't own any buildings. We lease our space. And so our input to real property is principally ensuring that our leases are input into the database, that our leases conform to the kinds of things that the Assistant Secretary has said we need to conform to, as well as OMB.

Mr. Romeo: One of your many hats in the agency is also as the information technology portfolio lead. What are some of the key IT management challenges that ACF faces? And what has your agency done to enhance its IT capabilities to meet such challenges?

Mr. Coy: Well, probably, as I alluded to earlier, the thing that consumes most of our time in the IT world is our grant system Center of Excellence. And we have a number of partners, as you might imagine, and managing that system has become increasingly important.

As CIO, we also are looking at our IT infrastructure. And the IT infrastructure is servers and e-mail and just the business of doing things on a daily basis. ACF has joined a number of other HHS agencies in a shared service platform, it's called the Information Technology Service Center, ITSC, in the hopes of putting together those scale of services, such that we're not managing all of these servers and the nuances of those kinds of things.

Probably the next challenge is the Unified Financial Management System. We implemented that just this past year. There are still things that we need to get the bugs worked out of. And so that consumes time and energy and resources.

And quite frankly, as you look at ACF's budget with respect to discretionary funding, we have been, for all intents and purposes, flatlined for the last several years. What does that mean? We're absorbing pay raises, we're absorbing the cost of increased server costs, we're absorbing the costs of increased IT. And so you get to a point where you have to make some decisions on -- while you would like to do this, what's the business case to be able to go out and get that multimillion-dollar server, for example.

Mr. Morales: Curt, just to change tracks here a little bit. With such a critical and broad mission, collaboration must be critical to your success. What kinds of partnerships are you developing now to improve operations or outcomes at ACF? And how many of these partnerships change over time?

Mr. Coy: Well, to answer your last question first, they change all the time. But one of the things -- and it's most interesting having the CIO role, the CFO role, and the chief grants officer role, and Deputy Assistant Secretary role, because what you're looking at is technology is allowing and the drive to improve business services and government efficiency. It has to. So it's forcing a change in the way organizational boundaries are looked at.

Technology is clearly -- simple things like e-mail. It used to be that you'd take a memo from here to there, and you'd have a runner that would take it to the next building to the -- and now you can communicate almost instantaneously. The grant Center of Excellence that we have is probably an excellent example on how multiple agencies have decided that they have a common interest that's best served by going outside their agency. But they still need to ensure that their mission-critical services are done, and they're done preferably and hopefully at a lower cost.

And so the key to working on this, and a reason this line of business is succeeding for us anyway, is that the vision has to be structured not just on ACF, but the vision has to be structured on what's the bigger picture. And the vision of, in reality, our grant system Center of Excellence is to get grants out the door in a timely and cost-effective manner. It's not to get grants out the door. The way ACF does it, in a timely and in an effective manner. And so these kinds of things become the catalyst as you're working across different agencies.

But the fact of the matter is, you can say technology and you can say financing, you can say all of those things. But you're never going to avoid that interpersonal relationship, the working with other senior staff across agencies. And once you create that bond of that senior staff in fact developing common goals and visions, they quickly become the primary agents of any transformation that you're talking about. And they redefine where those organizational boundaries really are.

I would suggest that across the board, the example that we've seen with our Center of Excellence for the grant system has been a very successful tool. It's been a very collaborative effort, and it's actually been sort of fun.

Mr. Morales: What does the future hold for the Administration for Children and Families?

We will ask Curt Coy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration at the Administration for Children and Families, 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 Curt Coy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration at the Administration for Children and Families.

Also joining us in our conversation is Tom Romeo, IBM's general government industry leader.

Curt, I'd like to transition now and look towards the future. What are some of the major opportunities and challenges your agency will encounter in the future, and how do you envision your office will evolve over the next, say, three to five years to meet these challenges?

Mr. Coy: Well, I think our office is evolving a lot. And that's principally as a result of a maturing workforce. You can call it what you like, but the fact is, retirees are on the rise within the federal government. And so how do we handle that kind of succession planning as you lay out training and lay out hiring schemes and so on and so forth. So that's probably the biggest challenge is we're looking at how do we in fact ensure that our programs are done and done properly.

Technology has to be one of those challenges. It also has to be the opportunity that technology is going to allow us to do things better, faster, hopefully more inexpensively, and to be able to leverage our assets across the board.

And then finally, strategic hiring. How do we bring in the right people? So we have a whole strategic hiring process that we have. As we transition to next year and the year after and the year after, I would suggest that in the near term, those are the kinds of things that keep me awake at night.

Mr. Romeo: Two of those points were about your human resources. How do you ensure that your employees have the appropriate training and skills? And what is the organization doing to ensure that it has the right staff mix to meet the upcoming challenges?

Mr. Coy: Well, we're doing two or three things. We have a very robust training plan. In the past several years, we've seen well over 90 percent of ACF staff participating in some degree of training. And that can be extensive training. It can be sort of online training for computer usages, but we've been very aggressive in trying to ensure that all staff have training opportunities.

We also have taken a look at our training funds. We've fenced training funds. And we've made training part of all of our SES performance contracts. Training's important, and we're going to measure it. Senior staff are being held accountable for those kinds of training things. And so we're making that accountability in training on ensuring that we have the skill set.

We're trying to stand back and look at our hiring from a more strategic sense. And what I mean by that is in the days of past, if you will, if a Head Start program person left, then you would go look for another Head Start program person. But in reality what you want is somebody who could read and write well, somebody who can do analysis and strategic planning and so on and so forth. And what are those kinds of characteristics that we're looking for in our entry level workforce as we move up the whole career path that we have.

And so when you look at the human capital aspect of ACF, we've been very successful in retaining good folks. We've been very successful, and recognized for it. So we're looking at the kinds of skill sets that we're looking at when we hire people; once we have them, to ensure that we have training opportunities; and in some cases, training opportunities at the expense of other things, at the expense of perhaps travel, and perhaps even at the expense of hiring another person. Because for every $100,000 that you put into the travel kitty, in round numbers, that's a person that you're not hiring.

Mr. Romeo: Are there special steps taken to attract and maintain high quality technical and professional resources?

Mr. Coy: Well, one of the things that we're trying to do is a strategic hiring process. And we've done is we've tried to lay out and look at our workforce somewhat more strategically.

If you look at the number of occupational codes or series that the Administration for Children and Families have, in round numbers, there are four occupational codes or series that account for over 82 percent of the staff at ACF. So if you manage those four occupational series and you do it well, the other 18 percent you can do on a onesie-twosie basis, on an as-needed basis as you go down the path.

So we've created hiring schemes for those four occupational series, and gone out nationwide and advertised for those jobs. And folks come in and they apply for these jobs. And we have panels from all of the programs that come in and interview them. And so then we end up ranking and rating these folks. And we may hire 20 of them at a pop, or 30 of them, depending on what our budget looks like and so on and so forth. And there is a hope and the intent that we can almost take any one of these 20 or 15 or 30 folks and plug them into almost any program office within the Administration for Children and Families and they'll be successful, because they have the requisite skills to be able to do that.

How do we keep and attract these folks? What we've had from entrance interviews as well as feedback from our process is -- we have things like a student loan program. We're one of the few operating divisions within the Department that has a student loan reimbursement program. We have a tuition assistance program. We have a leadership development program that is designed to develop high-performing GS-12s, and 13s, and 14s, and 15s.

And then finally, we have developed a culture, if you will, that we only hire -- for the most part, there are exceptions like anything, but for the most part, we only hire at the 9, 11, 12 level. When we need to advertise for a GS-13, 14, or 15, we do that internally. And it forces two or three things. It forces that manager out there to say, "Wait a minute. You're not going to get your next GS-14 replacement off the street. It's going to be from that pool of folks that you see right now. So you better make sure that those folks are getting the training and the opportunities that they need." So we have a very robust program when it comes to those kinds of things.

Mr. Morales: Now, Curt, earlier you mentioned the pending retirement wave. So specifically how are you handling this situation, and what are you doing to ensure that the organization has the right mix as you move into these years?

Mr. Coy: Our workforce has shrunk about 10 percent over the past five years. We've often reported -- as you look at the demographics and the statistics -- and I do -- but ACF remains -- as you look at the Department of Health and Human Services as a whole, we're more diverse, we're more educated, and we're more experienced than HHS. And those are all good news things.

The bad news is that in the next five years, about 50 percent of our non-supervisors will be eligible for retirement. That's almost double what the population of HHS is. Within the next five years, 75 percent of ACF supervisors will be retirement-eligible. That's again way above any of the norms that you even read about in HHS or in the federal government as a whole.

And so we need to take a look at those key issues, and we have been, when we do succession planning. Because what we've seen is, number one, we try and manage ACF as a whole. It's not managing as entities. And we haven't said, "Okay, you get five people. You get 10 people. You get 20 people, 30 people, 200 people."

We take a look at ACF across the board and we make serious management decisions on where we need to do that backfill, because what happens is, over the past five years, in round numbers, we've been able to replace about three people for every five that leave.

And so if you take the leadership aspect of being able to manage the workforce and then bringing in the right folks at the entry level in those four occupational codes and series and you focus on those, hopefully we'll be in a good place. Sometimes change is difficult. But we also look at this opportunity -- when it comes to the percentage of supervisors and non-supervisors who are retirement-eligible, and then you stand back and look at the demographics of that. And in any given year, about 20 percent of those who are eligible actually do retire. But you don't know who that's going to be.

That's the very frustrating part is, you can't do succession planning based upon Bob, and Mary, and Joe, and Susie and so on and so forth, because you're not even allowed to ask somebody when they're thinking about retiring. And so you have to do it on a more global sense, not on a more finite sense. That provides a little bit more of a challenge.

Mr. Morales: Curt, you've had a very extensive and very successful career both in public service as well as in the private sector. So I'm curious, what advice might you give a person who is considering a career in public service?

Mr. Coy: Public service is an honor. As corny as it sounds, people ask me, "What made you get back into the government?" The fact of the matter is, public service really is an honor, and that public service is critically important to the way that you view your job.

I would also suggest when it comes to young folks in government service, my advice would be "be curious." That's probably the one attribute that I value the most. Leverage those who go before you. Make sure that you get everything you can from them before they leave. Don't accept the status quo. It's one of the things that probably, stereotypically, government employees have their worst reputation. And that's the status quo. Don't look at things from a status quo perspective.

And then finally, I would suggest that you celebrate what you do and how you do it and why you do it. Because if you're not in that shower in the morning thinking of all those things that you got to get done today, and if you're not driving home at night or going home at night going, "I didn't get these things done today," I would suggest that you're not having fun. And maybe you need to look for something else to do, because at ACF, there's no way that you can't possibly not be challenged by the kind of work that we do.

Mr. Morales: That's fantastic advice. Curt, unfortunately we have reached the end of our time. I want to thank you for fitting us into your busy schedule. But more importantly, Tom and I would like to thank you for your dedicated service to our country both as a naval officer and now at the Administration for Children and Families.

Mr. Coy: Thank you, Al. I appreciate it.

Mr. Morales: This has been The Business of Government Hour, featuring a conversation with Curt Coy, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Administration at the Administration for Children and Families.

My co-host has been Tom Romeo, IBM's general government industry leader.

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.

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

Introduction: Challenging the Way Managers and Employers Think About Performance Management

Friday, October 12th, 2007 - 15:18
Posted by: 
Public sector organizations face increasing pressure to ensure that programs are well managedand results-oriented, and meet the needs of their constituents—namely, the Americanpublic. Citizens expect and deserve quality services in return for their investment (i.e., taxdollars) whether they are receiving Social Security checks, undergoing medical treatmentat veterans’ hospitals, obtaining assistance in response to natural disasters, visiting nationalparks, or receiving any other government services at the federal, state, or local level.

Sharing Knowledge Across the Joint Services and Around the Globe

Friday, October 12th, 2007 - 12:13
Posted by: 
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Information Management andTechnology, and Deputy Chief Information OfficerU.S. Department of Defense
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