Executive Organization and Management

The Standing Panel on Executive Organization and Management (EOM) is the Academy’s oldest and longest-serving standing panel. The Panel focuses on improving the structure, capacity, management and performance of public institutions.

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What Are the Elements of Sound Public Governance?
Author: Elijah Evans
Posted On: Feb 15, 2019

Background This session focused on an initiative by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to develop an integrated framework of practices that would constitute “sound public governance,” based on empirical evidence of good practice gleaned from OECD’s work in this area in Member and Partner countries over the past decade.   This initiative to craft a practice-based “Policy Framework on Sound Public Governance” will lead to a...

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Implementation of the Evidence Act: A Discussion at the NAPA EOM Panel
Author: Mr. John M. Kamensky
Posted On: Feb 05, 2019

Background: In one of its last actions before adjourning last month, the 115th Congress passed the “Foundations of Evidence-Based Policymaking Act of 2018.” This new law implements about half of the recommendations made by the Commission on Evidence-Based Policymaking in September 2017. Among other things, the new law requires agencies to designate Evaluation Officers and Chief Data Officers, and to publish their data sets in machine-readable form. This panel session discussed some of the implementation...

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Panel Meeting: Insights from the 2012 Obama Business and Trade Reorganization Initiative
Author: Kaitlyn Blume
Posted On: Oct 09, 2018

President Obama announced in his 2011 State of the Union that he would pursue reorganizing federal agencies to improve government operations. A year later, he announced a specific set of proposals, with a focus on reorganizing the government’s trade and export functions. He requested reorganization authority from Congress and by late 2013, Congress was still discussing the initiative, but with no legislative actions taken. As top agency and White House officials turned over, the reorganization...

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Being Inspired by Others
Author: Mr. Jonathan D. Breul
Posted On: Aug 30, 2018

By Jonathan D. Breul, NAPA Fellow   I’m always intrigued by how other countries have tackled a management challenge that we’ve been grappling with for years here in the US. For example, the US federal government has developed a solid technical framework for measuring and reporting on the performance of its programs and selected outcomes over the past five years.  However, it has yet to develop an overarching analytic framework...

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Helping Managers Understand Attrition and Retention Issues Using Federal Employee Survey Data
Author: Judy England Joseph
Posted On: May 04, 2018

At the core of the recent National Academy of Public Administration report titled Strengthening Organizational Health and Performance in Government was the need to create an environment where federal managers are encouraged to use data to better understand their organizational challenges. At a time when many federal agencies are faced with hiring freezes and an inability to fill behind those who leave, managers might benefit from using Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS) data to...

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Improving Employee Engagement: A Virtuous Cycle
Author: Mr. Robert J. Lavigna
Posted On: Mar 21, 2018

I think I’ve heard just about every government joke there is. Most are mean-spirited and just plain wrong. But here’s one with a little different twist; “In government, they ask us to do more with less, and then even more with even less and – ultimately – they want us to do everything with nothing.” Maybe this is one government joke that does contain a grain of truth? In...

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Improving Employee Engagement: Reflections of a Former HUD Deputy Secretary
Author: Nani Coloretti
Posted On: Mar 14, 2018

What happens when you tie your Employee Engagement effort to shared mission and goals?  Lots. In 2014, the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) had the lowest ranking on the Best Places to Work rating of any mid-sized agency.  There were likely many reasons for this ranking – including a recent government shutdown and a year of furloughs and reduced pay.  HUD’s ranking, based on the annual Federal Employee Viewpoint...

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Australia-US Lessons on Public Sector Stewardship and Capability
Author: Mr. Andrew Stuart Podger
Posted On: Feb 27, 2018

The NAPA White Paper, Strengthening Organisational Health and Performance in Government, draws on international as well as US experience and research; it also offers practical guidance for international as well as US public sector practitioners. The Australian experience summarised in one of the paper’s published reference documents includes recent efforts to address systematically organisational capability as well as organisational and program performance – to consider ‘how’ as well as ‘what...

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Employee Engagement Surveys Are Only Part of the Answer
Author: Mr. John M. Kamensky
Posted On: Feb 22, 2018

Merely measuring employee engagement isn’t enough, concludes a NAPA white paper on Strengthening Organizational Health and Performance in Government. While both the federal government and private companies measure employee engagement, these assessments only tell leaders and managers “what” is going on. Survey assessment data do not explain the “why.” If leaders want to replicate a success or turn around a problematic work unit, they have to dig deeper and...

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Where Do We Find Performance? Balancing Organizational Health and Outcomes
Author: Dr. Donald Moynihan
Posted On: Feb 20, 2018

Reforms that promise better government performance are like a mirage – always just over the horizon, and rarely living up to expectations. Those thirsty for better outcomes can be forgiven for feeling a bit lost in the desert. A recent report from the World Bank found that in seven different countries, the most common experience with these reforms was one of disappointment. A new report of the National Academy of Public Administration, Strengthening Organizational Health...

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Learning Agendas Can Produce Performance and Evaluation Evidence
Author: Demetra Nightingale
Posted On: Feb 15, 2018

The Evidence-based Policymaking Commission strongly recommends that agencies use learning agendas for evaluation plans to build the base of evidence that can be used to make program and government decisions. They result in a structured approach for setting priorities for conducting rigorous empirical research about “what works” and what works “best.” Learning agendas can also include plans for needed research and analysis relevant to a whole range of evidence activities, including...

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The Five Rs and Employee Engagement
Author: Dr. Michael Maccoby
Posted On: Feb 12, 2018

Companies need engaged employees. They are motivated to innovate, increase productivity, and satisfy customers. The sad truth, however, is that there are just not enough of them. Gallup surveys report that less than a third of American employees are engaged at work, and the percentage is even lower in other countries. Why aren’t more workers engaged? Companies spend billions on management and leadership training that invariably includes motivation theories and advice about how...

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The Big Deal About Big Data
Author: Dr. Donald F. Kettl
Posted On: Feb 08, 2018

This blog post first appeared in Government Executive Behind the roller-coaster politics rocking Washington, a much quieter but just as important revolution is underway. Government managers are advancing the use of “big data,” and it’s having a big impact. It’s the center of an important effort to transform the health of the federal government and improve the outcomes of federal programs, as a recent National Academy of Public Administration...

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A New Strategy to Improve Government Performance
Author: Dr. F. Stevens Redburn
Posted On: Feb 05, 2018

A recent National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) report Improving Organizational Health and Performance in Government by a special panel of Academy fellows describes a vision of a federal government transformed into an organization that: learns from experience,  constructively engages employees at all levels in this shared enterprise, and continually strives toward higher standards of excellence in achieving its many prescribed missions and policy objectives.  It is one thing to envision, another thing...

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A Possible Future for the Federal Government
Author: Dr. F. Stevens Redburn
Posted On: Feb 01, 2018

Embarking on any long journey, it helps to have a clear idea of where you expect, or at least hope, to end up.  A special panel of National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) fellows frames its advice to the federal government on improving organizational health and performance with this humble observation. The panel understood that improving the federal government’s capacity to perform will never be the work of a single administration. ...

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Next Steps in Improving Government Performance
Author: Mr. John M. Kamensky
Posted On: Jan 31, 2018

This blog post first appeared in Government Executive Have government reformers been putting the chicken before the egg? For years, their attention has been on improving performance by focusing on program results.  But a new study released by the National Academy of Public Administration says there has been a missing step. The Academy’s study questions the progress of performance improvement efforts over the past two decades, asking: “To what extent has...

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The Use of Organizational Assessment Reviews to Improve Organizational Performance
Author: Mr. John M. Kamensky
Posted On: Oct 20, 2017

Summary from October 20,2017 EOM Panel Meeting Background The Office of Management and Budget has invited NAPA to share its insights on how to leverage the growing body of data on the organizational health and performance of federal agencies and programs, and how this data might be acted on to improve organizational health and performance at the unit level.  The EOM panel convened public and private sector leaders to share their experiences. Questions explored...

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The Use of People Analytics to Improve Organizational Health and Performance
Author: Mr. John M. Kamensky
Posted On: Sep 18, 2017

Summary from September 15, 2017 EOM Panel Meeting Background The Office of Management and Budget has asked NAPA for insights on how to leverage the growing body of data on the organizational health and performance of federal agencies and programs.  One senior OMB official laments: “I’ve got all these office-level indicators of employee behavior and performance.  What do they tell me and how can I use them to improve government operations?” ...

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The Importance of Evaluating Program Outcomes: The Case of Federal Credit Programs
Author: Mr. John M. Kamensky
Posted On: Jun 23, 2017

Summary from June 23, 2017 EOM Panel Meeting: Background Federal loan and loan guarantee programs have grown to immense proportions, amounting to $ 3.6 trillion in FY2016. That’s well over $10,000 for every man, woman, and child in the United States. Federal loans and loan guarantees outstanding have doubled in size since the Financial Crisis. There are signs that some programs, and especially some of the largest programs such as student loans or FHA home mortgage loans,...

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Implementing the DATA Act: Working Across Boundaries
Author: Mr. John M. Kamensky
Posted On: May 19, 2017

The Executive branch was given three years to implement its key provisions. A key deadline was to post all federal spending data on a single website by May 9, 2017. The DATA Act requires all federal spending data, including for the first time interagency transfers, to be posted on at least a quarterly basis. That includes more than $3.8 trillion in annual federal spending and the public will be able to track these funds from Congressional appropriations to...

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President Trump’s Government Reform Initiatives
Author: Mr. John M. Kamensky
Posted On: Apr 26, 2017

Summary of  April 26, 2017 EOM Panel Meeting Introduction Media reports on the various reform announcements focused on potential staffing and budget reductions, but OMB staff noted upfront that their observation from the inside is that “there is genuine, sincere interest in fixing things that are broken,” and that the goal of the Administration is not to just make incremental progress on what is currently underway but to identify and fix fundamental problems....

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Implementing the Program Management Improvement Accountability Act
Author: Mr. John M. Kamensky
Posted On: Mar 17, 2017

Summary from March 17, 2017 EOM Panel Meeting Context Legislation passed in December 2016 requires federal agencies to develop greater project and program management capacity. A NAPA Study Panel prepared a report in 2015 on improving project and program management in federal agencies, which informed the development of that legislation. Now that the legislation has passed, how will it be implemented? OMB is assessing the “lay of the land” and what elements need to be considered...

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The Long Road to Strategic Foresight in the Federal Government
Author: James-Christian Blockwood
Posted On: Aug 26, 2016

Summary Governments around the world are faced with existing and evolving challenges that require thoughtful, flexible and innovative approaches to address them. We must safeguard our Nation’s future and there is a significant threat to not deliberately and systematically considering the long-term consequences and alternative options regarding policy decisions.  To advance Strategic Foresight from its ebb and flow of fleeting popularity, and capitalize on its proven usefulness, government leaders must understand, advocate,...

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Reflections on Federal Foresight Initiatives in the 1970s
Author: Mr. John M. Kamensky
Posted On: Jun 20, 2016

Summary During the 1970s the planning and foresight community worked very hard to incorporate the long view – foresight perspective and practices – into governmental functions when and wherever we could especially in the major legislative accomplishments. What was done in that decade? The ongoing Department of Defense Planning, Programming, and Budgeting System and the RAND futures and systems network served as the foundation for a series of related efforts: the evolving intergovernmental system of...

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Governing with Foresight: Bringing Strategic Foresight to Bear in Policy Planning and Management
Author: Mr. John M. Kamensky
Posted On: Apr 12, 2016

Introduction How can a new President assess the risks, challenges, and opportunities of his or her agenda – and more importantly, what actions can be taken now to improve the chances of success or avoid failure? How can we best ensure that the long term is properly factored into day-to-day policymaking? It has been done before – just look back at the race to the Moon or the development of the Internet. Yet, government leaders...

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Can We Finally Link Foresight To Policy?
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Mar 30, 2016

Introduction We are entering a season when many groups are thinking about how to advise the next Administration on matters of policy, organization, or both.  NAPA is now working on this, specifically addressing the challenge of how to incorporate strategic foresight and policy.  Addressing this challenge is a significant intellectual effort, but even more formidable in terms of political psychology. Successful politicians will, in the course of their campaigns, have already projected a...

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The Value of Strategic Foresight
Author: NTTW2 Staff
Posted On: Feb 23, 2016

Introduction In discussing the value of strategic foresight, it is important to distinguish it from forecasting. Forecasting seeks to predict discrete events in the future. By contrast, strategic foresight seeks to help decision makers think through uncertainty. It employs scenarios to consider how trends and developments in a number of areas may come together in different ways to affect the operating environment of an organization both positively and negatively. The value of forecasting is clear...

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Strategic Foresight is a Measurable Activity
Author: NTTW2 Staff
Posted On: Feb 10, 2016

Introduction The demand for measurable outcomes has historically posed an enduring challenge for Strategic Foresight projects both within and beyond governments.  As Robert Shea observes in his recent post on Advancing the Evidence Agenda in the next administration, the U.S. Government has long sought better nuance in measuring outcomes and to more readily surface programs’ evidence of effectiveness.  However, in the case of Strategic Foresight, common notions of outcomes...

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Effective Strategic Foresight is Rooted in Cross-Agency Collaboration
Author: Mr. John M. Kamensky
Posted On: Feb 02, 2016

Cross-agency collaboration is essential for effective strategic foresight.  How can existing efforts be improved to achieve this goal? Events of recent years and certainly those of today demonstrate that we live in a period of unprecedented uncertainty.  From the federal government’s perspective it is clear that its decades-long structure of a web of stove-piped organizations, outdated decision-making procedures, and much of today’s strategic planning processes inhibit effective governance. ...

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Strategic Foresight
Author: NTTW2 Staff
Posted On: Jan 28, 2016

Summary Perspective in planning is crucial to its success.  The scope and time frame used to establish baselines affect the entire practice of developing actionable efforts to respond to crises and undertake concerted actions to implement programs.  While the Panel described above will be tasked with determining if the federal government is “doing things right” when it comes to program implementation, this Panel will examine whether we are “doing the...

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Linking Foresight to Decision Making
Author: Mr. John M. Kamensky
Posted On: Jan 19, 2016

How can strategic foresight be effectively linked to decision making in the federal executive branch? Strategic foresight can inform national policy in the face of profound uncertainty about what lies ahead.  It recognizes the requirement to look beyond the horizon and imagine a range of possible futures, so that policy makers can prepare for the unexpected and even the unlikely.  Strategic foresight efforts enhance the knowledge base for thinking about and designing policies...

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What Is Strategic Foresight?
Author: Mr. John M. Kamensky
Posted On: Jan 11, 2016

Introduction Does it make any sense for the government to think long term?  We’ve done it before – think about the interstate highway system, the race to the Moon, or the evolution of the Internet. Strategic foresight is not futuristic forecasting, nor is it the sole purview of Popular Science magazine, the World Future Society, or the Jetson Family.  It is about having the imagination to be...

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Bringing Strategic Foresight to the Fore
Author: Mr. John M. Kamensky
Posted On: Jan 08, 2016

Introduction What is NAPA’s Strategic Foresight Panel planning to do? This isn’t the first time NAPA has addressed the topic of creating a strategic foresight capacity for the federal government. But this time there is a better plan! In preparation for the 2008 presidential transition, the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA) published an issue paper, Governing with Foresight: Institutional Changes to Enhance Fact-Based Decision-Making in the Executive Office of...

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