Recent years have seen an increase in cross-agency research and development projects. These initiatives are large and significant in national policy. They include: information technology, nanotechnology, climate change, global change, and bioterrorism. For example, global change has grown to involve eighteen federal agencies and departments, including entities within the executive office of the president. The aim of these and other interagency programs is to draw on the special skills of each organization and weave them into a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.
The O'Leary and Bingham report expands on previous Center reports by adding an important practical tool for managers in networks: how to manage and negotiate the conflicts that may occur among a network's members. The approach they describe-interest-based negotiation-has worked in other settings, such as bargaining with unions. Such negotiation techniques are becoming crucial in sustaining the effectiveness of networks, where successful performance is defined by how well people collaborate and not by hierarchical commands.
The IBM Center and George Mason University co-sponsored a series of breakfast seminars over the course of 2008 with a series of acquisition experts who constituted the Acquisition Reform Working Group. They believed that whoever won the election, contracting issues would be on the front burner. With the passage of the Stimulus Bill, having an effective federal contracting function will be critical to the success of the Bill.
The federal government now spends about 40 percent of its discretionary budget to buy everything from office supplies to weapon systems. When the government buys simple products, like paper clips, they can turn to well-established acquisition strategies and practices and apply them to richly competitive markets. When government agencies buy complex products, like weapon systems, conventional acquisition approaches are often insufficient and markets are more challenging.
There has been a longstanding recognition that the federal government does not have enough employees with the requisite skills to meet every agency need. Agencies obtain real advantages in employing contractors that can offer specialized skills to handle short-term requirements. Moreover, using a competitive selection process helps to bring both efficiency and innovation to address government needs.
Over the last 15 years federal government managers have relied on a much broader and more diverse set of personnel for carrying out agency missions, with private sector contractors assuming a much greater role than in the past. A key question is what are the implications of this shift to a multisector workforce for how federal agencies accomplish their missions. A more robust human capital planning process is needed to address multisector workforce issues.
This report reviews the history of performance management efforts within the federal government and discusses the successes, challenges, and failures over the years. In addition, the report offers insights from other performance management experiences in both public and private sector organizations. The authors describe differences between private and public sector performance management practices, as well as present a comparative analysis of corporate and non-corporate use of good management practices.
In most federal mission areas-from low-income housing to food safety to higher education assistance-national goals are achieved through the use of various policy tools, such as direct spending, grants, loans and loan guarantees, insurance, tax preferences, and regulations. Although policy tools have proliferated in recent decades, knowledge of how to design and manage the federal policy tool set has not kept pace.