THE BLOG
04/11/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Why 83% of U.S. Government Managers Agree Their Agencies are Ineffective

If the term "Government 2.0" is new to you, think about:

the next generation of government that leverages technology to enable two-way communication with the public, improve management practices, and prepare the leaders of the future.

Such is the lead-in to a Reuters-carried press release in September 2008 about Primavera Systems' second annual government management study. Other than assorted wire services, a summary in Federal Computer Week, and a blurb by the Federal Managers Association, few have covered this survey.

DollarsSurveying 3,868 American citizens last July and 382 federal web managers in August, "Government 2.0: The Performance Opportunity" found a mere 17% of managers graded their agencies with an "A" for effectiveness.

Government inefficiency led to 42% of tax dollars wasted, the general public said. Viewed differently, the report indicates the waste is equivalent to the total of personal income payments of every taxpayer in the 11-state Northeast!

With President Barack Obama hoisted to the White House under a grassroots umbrella of change, the government is conflicted between jumping into new areas and technologies with a need to resist.

Most of the Primavera statistics from the American population oughtn't be surprising, such as 75% wanting the government to communicate when programs are over budget, why they are over budget, and what the steps will be to fix the process. The same statistic argues for increased transparency of federal spending and management practices; and 60% insist the government publish online data about government spending.

The President is trying to meet the nature of these demands, such as the recent launch of recovery.gov to illustrate the "how, when, and where" of reinvestment into the economy; but as some have undeniably shown, there's a long way to go.

But that's spending. What of management reform, of which 90% of Americans are unsatisfied?

Obama bringing change

The 382 federal web managers in the study speak out, offering a combination of insight and hope though a sense of doubt that anything can be accomplished in the short term.
  • 87% indicate wasted tax dollars could be recovered through improvements
  • 65% suggest implementation of a standardized system to report and track project updates and changes
  • 55% recommend reporting project problems in real time
  • 47% argue project managers be provided access to data to benefit management continuity
  • 43% admit non-standard management systems pose an obstacle

This data is six months old, so maybe things have changed on Capitol Hill since change.gov was conceived and a White House blog was born. Then again, if technology infrastructure is in the Dark Ages, it's a no-brainer to think policies are any clearer. But, with Obama's appointment of Vivek Kundra as his chief information officer and the establishment of data.gov...?

Lots of questions. One thing is clear, which Primavera stated:

Federal managers also gave the next administration thoughts on how to succeed during the transition. Their most-cited piece of advice? Listen to seasoned government managers.

The transition is over. Let's hope the listening continues.

Photo credits: waltarrrrr @ Flickr and pfala @ Flickr

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