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A New Player in the Federal Space – The Volcker Alliance – Helping Gov Do its Job Better

“Helping you do your job better” – that is the mission of the DorobekINSIDER and now it is also the mission of the Volcker Alliance, a group founded by Paul Volcker, the former chairman of the Federal Reserve.

“Trust in American government has been declining for decades. Trust rests on confidence, and too often government, at all levels, in the eyes of its citizens, has been unable to respond effectively to the challenges of the day,” said Volcker.

Shelly Metzenbaum will be the president of the new group. Metzenbaum is the former As­so­ci­ate Di­rec­tor for Per­for­mance and Per­son­nel Man­age­ment at the White House Of­fice of Man­age­ment and Bud­get.

Metzenbaum told Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER program that she gets to have the enviable job of helping government do its job better.

“Many people know Paul Volcker and after a long and distinguished federal career, he’s decided it was time to do something about paying more attention to government implementation, not the politics or policies. The Volcker Alliance is all about building and re-building trust in government and to help it be more effective,” said Metzenbaum.

Background in Performance

“I have a lot of experience working with federal agencies on setting goals, being clear about what you want to accomplish and measuring performance. You want to measure performance not in a gotcha exercise but you have to figure out how to manage smarter, operate smarter and find ways to connect with the public,” said Metzenbaum.

“Our organization just launched last week, but we are going to use the same formula that government should use:

  • Set clear goals
  • Pick priorities
  • Put together a game plan
  • Measure goals
  • Adjust along the way

We want to ask government what their biggest challenges are and then find a way to work with them,” said Metzenbaum.

OMB Model

“When I was with OMB we worked with government agencies and their Performance Improvement Council and Officers. We were able to move progress in a remarkably speedy way because people in government do want to make a difference, if you allow them and give them the right pressure to focus on you can accelerate the process of change. But sitting within the position at OMB I could also see that we needed some more attention from the outside. That is where the Volcker Alliance can be very helpful both in terms of simulating actions across agencies and across levels of government and bring attention from the private sector to work being done in the public sector,” said Metzenbaum.

Biggest Challenge

“The challenge is to help organizations become more agile. It is also to help people within agencies keep their eye on the prize and then to make sure the rules and regulations of procurement and HR are followed. There are a lot of myths out there surrounding HR and procurement. There are a lot of support structures out there that exist. But in order for them to work you have to say yes. Ned Holland at HHS says start with yes,” said Metzenbaum.

Mission, Mission, Mission

“Everyone needs to discipline themselves to see how they are connected to the larger organization’s goals. If we can not create a line of sight, we can not see the logic between what we are doing and what we are tying to accomplish. That is the responsibility of every employee,” said Metzanbaum.

When Budgets Meet Uncertainty

“Budgets can be an opportunity or a constraint. But the biggest issues that agencies face is not how much money they have but that they have to hurry up and wait to spend it. The fact that you have so much uncertainty about when you can get money out the door is the biggest issue,” said Metzanbaum.

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