The Washington Post

Academic says management of federal government needs changes


As the pay and benefits of federal workers come increasingly under scrutiny by a debt-weary Congress, a prominent academic expert on public service is describing a crisis in how the federal government is managed.

New York University Professor Paul C. Light calls for big changes to salaries and hiring, and a restructuring of management practices in a report released last week. “Creating High Performance Government: A Once-in-a Generation Opportunity” outlines a plan to save the government a trillion dollars over the next decade by focusing on performance and accountability. Light also writes a column on the management of government for The Washington Post.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-Virginia), who chairs the Senate Budget Committee’s Task Force on Government Performance, highlighted the report at a news conference on Capitol Hill.

President Obama and Vice President Joe Biden sounded similar concerns this month in launching a new campaign to make government more transparent.

Among the problems Light highlights:

• Leadership in many agencies is “inconsistent at best, negligent at worst” and bloated. He recommends eliminating about half of the roughly 3,000 political appointees in the executive branch.

• Automatic raises for any employee don’t allow performance to be rewarded, and should not continue.

• Government delivers too many services inefficiently, with duplication in programs, an overreliance on contractors and hundreds of billions in uncollected taxes.

Light recommends that a “Government Reform Corporation” be created that could submit legislative proposals to Congress to change some of the problems he highlights with an up or down vote.

Lisa Rein covers the federal workforce and issues that concern the management of government.


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