Five Things Federal Agency Leaders Can Do in Times of Budget Uncertainty

With a national election looming on the horizon and terms like “fiscal cliff” and “sequestration” being thrown around by policymakers, pundits, and the media, it’s hard to ignore the fact that we’re currently experiencing a period of great uncertainty surrounding the federal budget. Federal leaders are no doubt worried about what might happen, and wonder what they can do to keep their agencies and employees moving forward, despite the uncertainty.

Tom Fox, Vice President for Leadership and Innovation at the Partnership for Public Service, spoke with Chris Dorobek on the DorobekINSIDER about what leaders of government agencies can do during uncertain budgeting times.

Tom Fox talks budget constraints by GovLoop Insights

Five Things Federal Leaders Can Do During Times of Budget Uncertainty

1. Take Stephen Covey’s advice and focus not on the myriad events affecting your agency, but on those things over which you have some control – your circle of influence. This will keep you from getting bogged down by everything that is happening, and help focus your efforts on the things you may actually be able to change.

2. As Peter Sims says, figure out your little piece of the problem. Use that knowledge to take small steps now that will have a broader impact later.

3. Ask for help. No one person has all of the answers, so it’s important to rely on others on your team. Have team brainstorming sessions and issue challenges to folks in order to solicit ideas.

4. Approach new ideas with optimism – don’t just say no. As a leader you can’t say yes to all ideas, but you can pick the best, most effective ones to try out.

5. Get started with something, and see where it goes. Build a prototype, collect feedback, and incorporate new ideas into the process/product.

Taking these five actions will help you hone your focus, build support, and move your agency forward in times of budget uncertainty.

Check out Tom Fox’s blog post to learn more.

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Jaime Gracia

Federal leaders should also be communicating early and often with their industry counterparts, especially small businesses who face an unprecedented level of uncertainty. Contractors are doing vital, mission-oriented work, and fiscal pressures warrant cutbacks in these contracts (especially service contracts).

Transition plans should be in place, which include the need to insource this work, and ensure performance and to prevent gaps in service delivery.