Effectiveness and Efficiency: Making Government Accountable – The Role of the Chief Performance Officer

We all know that the role of government is different from the role of business. To pretend, like the Republicans do, that government should be run like a business is to a mistake of gargantuan proportions. Business and government have different functions. One to maximize and sustain profits, the other to “insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, etc. etc.”
So how do we go about measuring performance in government? And how can we manage government strategically?
Let’s start by looking at the functions of government ( from the Preamble):
1. To form a more perfect Union
2. To establish justice
3. To insure domestic tranquility
4. To provide for the common defense
5. To promote the general welfare
6. To secure the blessings of liberty
Now let’s adapt these functions for each government agency. For fun, let’s start with the IRS Without a fair tax system, we aren’t going to have 1 through 6. So how do we look at what the IRS needs to do to become more effective and efficient? For starters, the tax code has to become more equitable. This means our corporate friends need to start paying their fair share. Loop holes for the super-rich must be closed. We need to stop rewarding companies that ship jobs overseas. And hey, let’s add a carbon tax so we know we’re going to be building sustainable industries.
I’m only half kidding.
Each agency will have to create a scorecard of what “performance” means. And it will have to be measured against delivered results. WaPo has a cute article about this.
The real task is to manage government strategically. Here’s a fun chart from Nancy Killefer herself:
strategic governance
Read: How can American government meet its productivity challenge?
In the end, you can’t manage what you can’t measure (including intangibles). So here’s to the future of transparent, accountable government. Bring it, Obama!

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