ICYMI: Looking Back at 2014

My goal in blogging has been to provide context, insight, and inspiration on government management challenges for public sector managers, especially at the U.S. federal level. Following are blog posts from the past year organized around several themes, largely reflecting the trends reflected in the IBM Center’s research agenda. Hope you find this useful!

Understanding the "New Power" Trend

Reinventing Government was organized around ten values, such as government being catalytic, community-owned, competitive, etc. Today, a new management reform trend is evolving, with its own models and values, again inspired by private sector and societal trends. A recent Harvard Business Review article by Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms examines this 2010s trend, at least as it has evolved in the private sector, and they call it “New Power.” Not catchy, but their article does crystalize some powerful ideas.

How Will Government Adapt?: Sharing Across Stovepipes Is the New Normal

Fiscal sustainability continues to drive the impetus to reduce backroom costs, more from necessity than from a desire for government organizations to dramatically change the status quo. OMB is already moving aggressively in this direction through its Federal IT Shared Services Strategy (“Shared First”) and the issuance of its Memorandum to agencies in 2013, Improving Financial Systems Through Shared Services (M-13-08).

Delivery Units Around the World

Harvard’s Bob Behn writes about the spread of “PerformanceStat” across the U.S over the past two decades. But the creation of “Delivery Units,” which is another name for Bob’s phenomena, has spread across the world – even Latin America!

Is Foresight an Ethical Imperative?

Greenleaf’s statement is pretty strong. And most people would think that he refers to political leaders. But his observation is pointed at leaders at all levels. Efforts to create a strategic foresight capacity in the U.S. federal government have experienced fits and starts over the past 40 years. But in recent years, there has been some progress at the agency level, largely at the behest of political and career leaders who appreciate the value of foresight as part of their decision making processes. They might not think of it in terms of an ethical issue, but as good leadership.

How Will Government Adapt?: Positioning the IRS for the Next Decade

Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen shared his insights on his experiences to date in the closing session of the annual meeting of the National Academy of Public Administration in mid-November. Koskinen was confirmed as IRS Commissioner in December 2013. The position had been vacant for over a year, and during that interim, allegations of improprieties led to the dismissal of an interim commissioner along with other staff.

Developing Managers Versus Leaders

The Government Accountability Office has released its updated list of high risk areas across the federal government. It flags for attention the mission-critical skills gap in jobs such as telecommunications, cybersecurity and acquisition. But there is also a growing gap in experienced managers and leaders as baby boomers head for retirement. What approaches are needed to ensure the next generation of managers and leaders are ready?

The FY 2016 Budget: Details Worth a Look

Beyond the dollars in the President's budget, there are some details buried in congressional justifications that are worth examining. I think there are three sets of initiatives - that for the most part do not create new programs nor spend much in new dollars - that are worth attention: Building the capacity to implement and sustain cross-agency priority goals, Creating capacity to conduct meaningful performance-and-results assessments and link them to implementation, and Extending evidence-based approaches to solving problems.

Weekly Roundup: March 2-6, 2015

Social Impact Bond Legislation Introduced. Bi-partisan legislation creating a $300 million fund to pilot "pay for performance" grants has been introduced in the House, with similar legislation to be introduced in Senate. Acquisition Reform Underway. Much can be done administratively to fix the acquisition process, and Federal News Radio reports that OMB's Anne Rung has laid out a series of next steps to expand initiatives underway, such as category management. Shared Services Gains Some Friends.

What Does It Really Take to Get Things Done?

A recent survey of 400 global company CEOs found that executing their company's strategy heads their list of challenges. Related studies show two-thirds to three-quarters of large organizations struggle to implement their strategies. What these studies found sounds very familiar to what seems to occur in government, as well. I've been writing about the importance of cross-functional collaboration for years - within an agency, across agencies, across levels of government.


Senior Fellow
IBM Center for The Business of Government
600 14th Street, NW Second Floor
Washington, DC 20005
United States

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

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

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

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

Mr. Kamensky is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and received a Masters in Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at: john.kamensky@us.ibm.com

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