The tight timeframes and guidance laid out in OMB 17-22 has public servants thinking about potential drastic workforce reductions and historic budget cuts. It might be hard to see the upside of this effort from a staffer’s point of view, but we must. I’ve faced a few agency re-organizations, divorces and reductions in force in my time, but my experience was not on a scale the size of the federal government.
So, if you are a dedicated federal staffer, what should you do?
In my experience, it doesn’t work to let someone else write the story of your agency – its mission, successes and failures. Staffers and their constituents are in the best position to do the examination, describe the problems and recommend solutions.
This doesn’t mean that new appointees, deputies and secretaries don’t have a point of view to offer. It simply means that staff and constituent voices must be represented to really create a plan that makes your agency better.
So, what benefits could your agency discover by taking a thoughtful and meaningful approach to OMB 17-22? Here are a few that will probably interest you:
- Better technology
Federal staff continue to suffer through poor technology tools compared to their private-sector peers. This could finally be the moment your agency finally replaces legacy or dated systems. With the right changes, systems like Esri’s ArcGIS and your ERP could talk to each other and share information. Also, you could add more online services and field-work options.
- Improved coordination, leading to better use of federal resources
If the cross-agency reviews are meaningful, we could improve coordination, create strong lines of communication and enable better results for programs that rely on multiple agencies for success. Easily sharing information empowers constituents to apply or submit only once and enhances our work by making it visible in the context of other programs’ work.
- Automation and real paper reduction
My belief is that federal staffers are trying to do a good job, but they face soul-crushing volumes of work. With process improvement, you can eliminate paper. You can also automate work to enable staff with years of experience to focus on initiatives that make programs even more effective, enriching constituents’ lives.
You may or may not be directly involved with the efforts to respond to OMB 17-22, but it is one of those moments in your career where you wonder whether good things will happen. One thing I am sure of is that the plan will not be better if there is no front-line staff input. Your input is critical and you are positioned to educate and improve your agency. Make your voice heard.
So, consider how your job would change if you had good technology tools with mobile content management, collaboration and automation options. And imagine a desk with no paper and a process that had fewer steps, but a stronger impact. If that happened, your Agency Reform Plan could change your life and those of your constituents.
Another strategy is for federal personnel to focus on inherently governmental work. Sort out work that must be completed by government staff to include acquisition, budget, policy, decision-making, etc., from work that can be outsourced to contractors or temporary workers. Prioritize work so that mandated work gets completed first.