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Two More Steps Toward Better Government

More on the Presidential Memorandum directing us to conduct a review of the federal agencies and programs involved in Trade, Exports and Competitiveness and the President's Management Advisory Board.

Competing in the global economy will take cutting our deficits while investing in the areas critical to long-term economic growth and competitiveness. By out-educating, out-innovating, and out-building our competitors, we will enable our private sector to grow, create jobs, and thrive in the years ahead.

At the same time, we cannot win the future with a government built for the past. We live and do business in the information age, but the organization and operation of the Federal Government has not kept pace.  For too long,  taxpayer dollars have been wasted on ineffective and inefficient programs, and the Federal Government has not done all it can do to support the Nation’s companies, entrepreneurs, and innovators.

Already, the Administration has taken on this waste. The President’s budget consolidates and eliminates duplicative programs and proposes more than 200 terminations, reductions, and savings totaling approximately $30 billion in savings in 2012 alone. We cut contracting spending for the first time in 13 years; we’re saving billions of dollars by improving how the government buys and utilizes information technology; and we’ve proposed a plan to accelerate selling off excess federal real estate that would return $15 billion over the first three years.

Today, the President is taking two important steps to take these efforts to the next level.

First, in his State of the Union address, the President announced an initiative that we need to reorganize the Federal Government in order to give Americans a 21st century government that’s efficient and effective and will support American competitiveness. He asked me and Lisa Brown to lead that effort.

Today, the President issued a memorandum  directing us to conduct a review of the federal agencies and programs involved in Trade, Exports and Competitiveness, including analyzing their scope and effectiveness, areas of overlap and duplication, unmet needs, and possible cost savings.  The President has asked for recommendations for potential action to restructure and streamline government programs focused on trade and competitiveness within 90 days.

Winning the future will take an American private sector that has at its disposal all it needs to compete with firms and workers from around the world.  It will take a government that does not waste taxpayer dollars and focuses its efforts to support innovation and competitiveness. That is why we are working hard on this reorganization effort so that the parts of the government that support business and American competitiveness are best organized to provide that assistance.

Second, to cut waste and get the most from taxpayer dollars, we need to embrace the best practices of organizations that have been successful in getting more from less.

That’s why the President created the President’s Management Advisory Board – to gather ideas from the nation’s top executives to make government work better for the American people.  The President appointed a group of top notch CEOs with a diverse set of experiences that will be invaluable to our efforts –and we convened our first meeting today. We are thankful that these knowledgeable business leaders have agreed to share their expertise to modernize our government and make it more efficient, effective, and affordable.

For too long the Federal government has lagged behind private industry growth in productivity, efficiency and technology. The President’s Management Advisory Board will accelerate the Administration’s efforts to close the gap between public sector and private sector performance by helping us identify and adopt best practices that will improve government efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of service.

Changing the way government works to make it smarter and more effective is something we see as a bipartisan effort that we can all get behind, and we’ll keep you updated as our work moves forward.

Jeffrey Zients is the Federal Chief Performance Officer and the Deputy Director for Management at the Office of Management and Budget.