Public administration faces an interesting paradox. Along with comparative government,public law, international law, and political theory, it was one of the fields that shaped the new American Political Science Association a century ago. Today, however, public administration sits in a disciplinary backwater. For the last generation, scholars have sought to save or replace it with fields of study like implementation, public management, and formal bureaucratic theory. The debate, in fact, has developed to the point that “traditional public administration” has become a nearly universal pejorative to criticize an intellectual approach whose time has come — and gone.”
“Uttering the words “public administration” usually puts people into an instant stupor, or else sends them scrambling to check for messages on their iPhones. But in fact, the biggest problems we face in contemporary governance are often not related to what the government should do, but rather how to actually get the existing machinery to implement a policy that everyone can agree upon.”
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing on June 18 entitled “Reinventing Government”. Several leaders with great experience in Federal government leadership and management issues presented testimony and engaged in an extensive discussion with the Committee on both the general topic, and on the proposal for a Commission on Government Transformation from the Government Transformation Initiative.
Periodically the IBM Center staff steps back and reflects on the insights provided by its authors of more than 300 research reports and by some 300 senior government executives interviewed over the past 13 years. Through our research and interviews, we identified several broad societal trends that we believe are changing the game for successful leadership at all levels of government.
Based on these insights and trends, we teased out what seem to be seven management imperatives that will determine the success of public leaders in what is increasingly being called the “new normal” – an environment of uncertainty, demands for more, and dramatic budget cuts. We believe government leaders and managers should incorporate these seven imperatives into their management practices to execute their organization’s mission successfully.
We have developed brief essays on each of these seven imperatives:
- Imperative One: Act with strategic intent
- Imperative Two: Leverage hyperconnectivity
- Imperative Three: Manage through collaboration
- Imperative Four: Use real-time performance data
- Imperative Five: Respond to the new security environment
- Imperative Six: Work with the private sector in new ways
- Imperative Seven: Cut costs and improve performance