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What Are Your Top 3 Suggestions to Improve Government in 2013?

Think of this as an "easy suggestion" box.

I'm fishing for ideas that can be fully realized within the coming year, rather than things that might require much longer time arcs for planning and implementing.  I suppose they might be fairly tailored or specific to certain organizations or contexts.  But if you have an idea, or a commendable practice you've witnessed, that might be quickly instituted, and provide some organizational benefit, no matter how big or small, list it here.

For example, are there simple practices for de-silo-ing an organization, so that communication between units working on related areas can be improved?

Are there ways to make feedback from clients/end-users more effective?

Are there changes to the way jobs are advertised that can focus the applicants a little better so that HR and hiring managers have less to wade through and applicants have less wait and frustration?

These could be things identified in your employee surveys, or simply long-standing or emerging challenges that might be ameliorated more easily than some think.

And so on...

Start pitchin'

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1. Substitute access to a government wide account on augmented with an assigned mentor from existing staff instead of live classroom training for basic office software such as Word or Excel.

2. Put cameras in OPM training centers and make classes available as MOOCs for federal employees.

3. Require employees to commit to 2 years continued service or repayment of costs before approving training costing more than $5,000.

4. Have all agencies list live training classes for each metro area on a consolidated OPM web page and allow participation by employees from other agencies.


Been a while but... Believe that there are already, at least in the federal sector, requirements for signing a "contract" for continued service for expensive training.

Would expand number 4 to include not only participation but notification/advertising of the available training.

Henry -- DOD is pretty good about this but many of the civilain agencies are not.  I have seen senior executives who had already announced retirement plans attend graduate certificate programs that cost over $15K which primarily benefited the consulting group that hired them later.

Dig them.

Love your idea on mentoring - I think that's a huge opportunity.  I'd start a mentors program between retired gov't baby boomers & new hires.  Good way to pass on knowledge + retired folks have time & want to give back

Agree, this is a great idea. I would add mentoring between local community and public servants who work in the neighbourhood. Being used where I live - called "the workshop" where people can drop in, have a cuppa, share their ideas on what the council should be doing, initiatives they're working on - whether they're from the council or from community groups and test new technology.

I like #2. Webcast all training, meetings, and conferences. Basically, any time 2 or more gather in the name of knowledge transfer.

Mr. Sperry has sorta touched on my PRIMARY suggestion SHARE SHARE SHARE

Whether it be intra-agency, across agencies, or across branches of government...

Other possible "ideas":

1. Increased utilization of various social networks (facebook, LinkedIn, govloop) for not only intra-communications but with other interested parties

2.More public recognition for those who provide innovative methods of doing "business".

3. Work toward removing the agency ownership of good ideas and make the good ideas a part of the entire community


De-silo-ing:  nothing works better than cross training.  It becomes a fact of life, you have more mobility with staff and know-how gets spread around.

Feedback - we're experimenting with smart phone instant "testimonials" - mini-video reviews of how our service helped - and uploading them to our web page; and beyond talking heads, a crawl of tweets with comments and suggestions from users and groups. 

HR - in this small organization (20-40 people), I deal with all hiring myself, whittling down the final 3-5 for interviews. The committee concept is great when you dont know what you want, but when you do -- just do it yourself.

Make all levels of employees accountable for results, impact. Failure to deliver or execute with no consequences leads to mediocrity and disappointment for those who are productive.

Improved communications with the folks who are actually doing the work rather than just those in management.  Too many essential messages are diluted through the layers of hierarchy.  Employee surveys are hollow and meaningless when there is no action to address the challenges identified.

Respect people's time and expertise when requesting information by looking to your resources first and only reaching out when you need confirmation, approval, or have a knowledge gap that only an expert can fulfill.

1) Address grade inflation (GS-12-14 Administrative Assistants - really???)

2) Restructure workforce to emphasize self-service and tools - eliminate administrative assistants except for heads of agencies

3) 360º reviews - all managers, at every level, should be required to solicit and consider feedback from every employee's peers, subordinates and management in performance reviews.

4) Elected and bureaucratic officials must determine the value of the government workforce and halt associating the workforce with negative characteristics and using the workforce as the means to win favor with the electorate.  Arbitrary cuts, wage freezes, and poor workforce planning are destroying morale, service provided, and discouraging potential employees.  Shortsighted political games are harming longterm workforce effectiveness.  Size the workforce according to needs and set high expectations for performance; do not keep scrubs on the payroll - there are plenty of ambitious, capable people who can fill the slots for those who consume excessive management attention.

5) Get better middle management.

6) Counsel individuals who file repeated nuisance OIG/EEO/MSPB claims.  More effective prefiling assistance should be provided to improve the quality of filed claims and to screen out the frivolous ones.  These protections are serious and claims should be serious and abusers should be dealt with.

I like # 3- but would go further by implementing social goals and feedback using social networks such as or Would do a lot to fix our broken, antiquated performance management processes. # 5 will never happen. Tried that during Gore's NPR initiative.


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