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Political Appointee Project

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Your Agency Operations
Author: Elijah Evans
Posted On: Dec 19, 2018

Learn how to enhance your agency operations through both innovative and classic techniques and approaches. Managing the Risks in the Retained Organization: A Priority for New Leaders The movement to shared services should continue to be a priority for the new leaders of our government. Shared services bring operational effectiveness, cost efficiencies, and increased customer service. The transition to shared services is a significant transformation for any leader and organization. It is also significant for...

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Managing in a Political Environment
Author: Elijah Evans
Posted On: Dec 19, 2018

Here you will find advice from former political appointees on navigating the political aspect of government agencies. Seven Rules for New Political Executives Based on my experience as a Presidential appointee in the Carter Administration, I suggest the following rules for all new political executives... (more) To the Incoming Sub-Cabinet: You’ve Been Nominated, Confirmed, and Sworn in—But You Are New to Washington, Now What? Congratulations! You have received a presidential appointment...

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Reforming the Appointment Process
Author: Elijah Evans
Posted On: Dec 19, 2018

Introduction Over the last thirty years, there have been numerous studies calling for major reform of the political appointment process. This section includes the major studies during that period which have examined the political appointments process and made recommendations for reform. Some of the recommendations contained in the reports have been enacted, but many have not.  This section provides a unique collection of reports to assess what additional changes are still needed in both...

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Advice to Political Appointees
Author: Elijah Evans
Posted On: Dec 19, 2018

Introduction This section includes a compilation of advice for political appointees that have been prepared in recent years for new appointees. The goal of this section is to provide insights for new political appointees both prior to their appointment and after they assume their position and deal with the challenge of managing in government. This section is organized by challenges faced prior to appointment, key management challenges after confirmation, and the key relationships that appointees...

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Five Recommendations to Improve Veterans Healthcare During the Second Term of the Obama Administration
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Mar 08, 2018

Introduction The looming epidemic in chronic diseases, accelerated by aging populations and increasing prosperity, is threatening to overwhelm healthcare budgets and economic growth across the globe. Today — half a century after the first polio vaccine, four decades after declaring war on cancer, 30 years after the emergence of AIDS and the elimination of smallpox — we have tamed the most devious scourges that humanity has ever faced. What threatens us now is managing what should...

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Scaling a Fiscal Cliff and Other Contortions
Author: Mr. G. Edward DeSeve
Posted On: Mar 08, 2018

Introduction There is little new under the sun. We can find close presidential races from the time of Thomas Jefferson to Al Gore. The contentiousness often spills over into governance. The divided Congress that we face will likely magnify the divide. Will this time be different? Who knows? Still work must be done. What are some of the key priorities for the new term? How about this list: Facing fiscal reality Implementing the Affordable Care...

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Implementing Performance Management in Government
Author: Mr. Mark A. Abramson
Posted On: Mar 08, 2018

Introduction Based on our interviews with 42 Obama Administration appointees over the past four years, we developed many insights into what makes an effective manager in government. Three key skills to being an effective political executive are: Understanding the "outputs" of the organization they are leading; Developig metrics fro those outputs; and Tracking those metrics A key tool in tracking metrics is the use of Dashboards.  In our interviews, we saw many political appointees...

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Implementing Enterprise Risk Management in Government
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Mar 08, 2018

Introduction A recent Commentary in this series, Implementing Performance Management in Government, recommended that political appointees develop ways to track performance in their organization.  In addition to tracking performance, political executives also need to track risks in their organizations.  There has been an increase in recent years in unanticipated events that have jeopardized the achievement of agency goals.   Recent examples include the Health.gov website’s failure to anticipate...

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Implementing Innovation in Government
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Mar 08, 2018

Indtroduction In our recent Commentary, Implementing Performance Management in Government, we discussed that effective political appointees need to develop ways to track performance in their organization. In this article, we focus on the need for political appointees to encourage and stimulate innovation in their organization. Political appointees can learn a lot from the experience of the private sector in stimulating innovation: for example, it is now widely accepted that employees drive innovation. Successful companies...

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Advice to Appointees: Resolving the Operating/Investment Dilemma
Author: Mr. Robert F. Hale
Posted On: Mar 08, 2018

Introduction During my 12 years of service as a Senate-confirmed political appointee in the Department of Defense (DoD), I regularly dealt with what I called my “operating/investment dilemma.”  How well you deal with your version of this dilemma may well determine the improvements in government that you will leave behind after your service. Day-to-day Operating Issues Once in office, you will regularly be confronted with day-to-day operating issues.  For me, during...

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Managing the Risks in the Retained Organization: A Priority for New Leaders
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Mar 08, 2018

Introduction The movement to shared services should continue to be a priority for the new leaders of our government. Shared services bring operational effectiveness, cost efficiencies, and increased customer service. The transition to shared services is a significant transformation for any leader and organization. It is also significant for the people working within that organization. As with any transformation, the human capital element should be top of mind. As leaders engage in the planning for...

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The Federal Appointments Process: The Problem and Our Proposed Solutions
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Feb 08, 2016

Introduction Governing the United States of America does not pause during presidential transitions. Pressing matters – such as the financial crisis, two wars and threats of terrorism during the Bush-Obama transition in 2009 – do not wait for a new president to put his or her leadership team into place throughout the government. Yet it takes much too long for each new president to be able to fully grasp the reins of government. Only a small...

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Progress Under Pressure: Shining Light on Leadership, Transformation Planning, and Positive Outcomes at the Veterans Benefits Administration
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Jan 14, 2016

Background On April 8, 2013, the National Academy of Public Administration hosted the Veterans Benefits Administration’s (VBA) Under Secretary for Benefits, Allison Hickey, as part of its Presidential Appointee Project Seminar Series. Under Secretary Hickey provided candid, impassioned and thoughtful remarks regarding the successes and challenges she has experienced to date as Under Secretary for Benefits, leading more than 20,000 employees in seven business lines among 56 regional offices nationwide. She provided clear evidence about the progress...

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Drowning in Paperwork May Soon Be a Thing of the Past
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Jan 13, 2016

Introduction Dysfunctional…burdensome…ineffective…onerous…duplicative. These are all words that have been used to describe the massive amount of paperwork required of a political appointee. And, if you have been nominated to a position requiring Senate confirmation, there will be an additional detailed questionnaire from the committee with jurisdiction over your nomination. A long line of Presidents, Senators, think-tanks, scholars, and experts in public administration have called for ways to...

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Five Recommendations to New Political Executives on How to Effectively Use Auditors
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Jan 12, 2016

Introduction After a long career as a financial statement auditor in the corporate sector, I accepted an opportunity to broaden my experiences to include auditing federal government financial statements. I have found the transition to be a fascinating adventure. Although the auditing and management skills I have honed over the years transferred easily to government, the differences in culture between the corporate community and federal government still remain striking to me on a daily basis. ...

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Re-Evaluating the C-Suite: The Role of CIO for a 21st Century Government*
Author: Dr. Alan P. Balutis
Posted On: Jan 11, 2016

Introduction One of the major tasks confronting all new political executives will be to make sure that they have the right people in the right job with the right portfolios. This article will focus on the role of the Chief Information Officer in government.    Discussion In several recent magazine columns and blog postings, I have lamented the federal government’s failure to follow through and fully implement the Information Technology Management...

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Advice for New Political Executives: Three Questions to Ask your Chief Information Security Officer
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Jan 10, 2016

Background If you have previously served in government, most of the job titles you encounter will be somewhat familiar. There will be one exception. In recent years, another position has been added to the government C-Suite -- the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO). The responsibilities of the CISO include: monitoring the security of your organization’s data and infrastructure, mitigating and remediating vulnerabilities, and collaborating with others across government to deal with risks that...

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Questions to Ask About Your Tenured Workforce
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Jan 09, 2016

Introduction  As new executives come to Washington at the end of the Obama Administration and the start of the next Administration, they will need to pay special attention to what we have termed the “tenured workforce.”   We are defining the tenured workforce as individuals with 10-24 years of federal experience.  This group comprises 32% of the estimated 2 million federal employees. Approximately 18% hold supervisory positions. Individuals in this group are likely...

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An Introduction to Shared Services
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Jan 08, 2016

Background In preparing to govern and lead their agencies, new political appointees will be exposed to the term Shared Service Provider (SSP). They will hear about the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) push toward an increased used SSPs.  Regarding SSPs, new appointees will need to make decisions that will have a lasting impact on their agency, their employees and their business functions. In this commentary, we provide an overview of shared services in...

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Practical Advice for Federal Executives Looking to Transition to a Shared Service Provider
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Jan 07, 2016

Introduction This commentary offers practical guidance to political appointees whose agencies are interested in transitioning to a Shared Service Provider (SSP), whether for financial systems, Information Technology (IT), Human Resources (HR), or acquisition. Based on our experience and meetings held with Shared Service Providers and their customer agencies, we developed a list of key areas for consideration. While there are many steps required to complete a shared services transition, this commentary highlights some key...

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Advice to Appointees: Three Conversations to Have Right Away
Author: Elijah Evans
Posted On: Jan 06, 2016

Introduction The list of people seeking an audience with newly appointed heads of federal agencies fills up quickly from the moment of confirmation. Included in this list are internal stakeholders within the agency who have executed this drill previously and are prepared with briefing materials. Congress, the media and other government-focused groups are also anxious to engage. While it’s gratifying to realize so many are following you and your organization’s...

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Advice to New Appointees: How to Influence the Policy Agenda
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Jan 05, 2016

Introduction A strong motivation for political appointees in coming to Washington is the opportunity to positively influence policy – to make a difference.  Senior level appointees may bring the expectation of setting a portion of the administration’s agenda related to their agency’s mission. This is particularly likely for a first time appointee who hasn’t experienced or operated within the government complex previously. In fact, the very characteristics that...

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What Every New Political Appointee Should Know
Author: Mr. Mark A. Abramson
Posted On: Jan 05, 2016

Introduction Over the next several months, the Obama Administration will put together their second term team, with many positions to be filled by new appointees. At the recent annual meeting of the National Academy of Public Administration (NAPA), we had the unique opportunity to bring together a group of NAPA fellows to discuss – based on their prior experience in government -- what advice they would give to new appointees after their nomination. Our discussion...

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Cultivating Four Key Government Constituencies: A Guide for New Political Appointees
Author: Mr. Scott J. Cameron
Posted On: Jan 03, 2016

Introduction Most political appointees come to Washington to serve in a programmatic role.  They probably already are familiar with the policy orientations of key interest groups involved in that programmatic area. However, there are four key governmental constituencies that a new Senate-confirmed political appointee is well advised to cultivate if he or she is to be successful inside the Beltway.   These key constituencies include: Your agency head Your Office of Management and...

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To the Incoming Sub-Cabinet: You’ve Been Nominated, Confirmed, and Sworn in—But You Are New to Washington, Now What?
Author: Mr. Bradley H. Patterson, Jr.
Posted On: Jan 02, 2016

Introduction Congratulations! You have received a presidential appointment and have been confirmed by the United States Senate. While you may be an expert in a given field of public policy, that’s not enough. In addition to your substantive knowledge, you need to know: What is the President’s policy in your areas of responsibility? Is it a change from what it has been in the past? How will you find that out? ...

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Seven Rules for New Political Executives
Author: Mr. Richard S. Page
Posted On: Jan 01, 2016

Introduction Based on my experience as a Presidential appointee in the Carter Administration, I suggest the following rules for all new political executives: Rule One: Respect the career staff They know more than you do about the agency and its programs. Most of them are intelligent and dedicated to public service. They can help you, or hurt you. By respecting them, and letting them know you appreciate their service, they are much more likely...

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Appointments, Vacancies and Government IT: Reforming Personnel Data Systems
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Jun 08, 2014

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Report from the Workshop on “Appointee Politics and the Implications for Government Effectives”
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Jul 13, 2012

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America’s Invisible Governmental Crisis: Intergovernmental Relations in a Time of Transition and Uncertainty
Author: Dr. Allan Rosenbaum
Posted On: Jul 11, 2012

Memo Overview The American intergovernmental system was one of the great institutional inventions of the Country’s founding fathers. It serves many purposes ranging from facilitating our democracy through the dispersal of political power, to enabling individuals in local communities to more carefully and strategically address the many problems that exist in a complex society.  That this system has played a major role in facilitating the building and development of the American nation...

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Strengthening Administrative Leadership: Fixing The Appointments Process
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Mar 13, 2012

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A Half-Empty Government Can’t Govern
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Dec 14, 2010

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Ready to Govern: Improving the Presidential Transition
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Jan 13, 2010

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A Bipartisan Plan To Improve The Presidential Appointments Process
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Apr 05, 2001

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Twentieth Century Fund Task Force of the Presidential Appointment Process
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Mar 13, 1996

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Report of the President’s Commission on the Federal Appointment Process
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Dec 13, 1990

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The Executive Presidency: Federal Management for the 1990s
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Mar 13, 1988

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Leadership in Jeopardy
Author: ajackson@napawash.org
Posted On: Nov 12, 1985

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