Steven VanRoekel is the acting deputy director of management at the Office of Management and Budget as well as the federal government's chief information officer. He is engaged in technology advancements and crafting the president's second-term management agenda. VanRoekel spoke with Tom Fox, a guest writer for On Leadership and vice president for leadership and innovation at the nonprofit Partnership for Public Service. Fox also heads up their Center for Government Leadership.
How would you describe your leadership style?
Hire great people, give them measurable and understandable objectives and, to some extent, get out of their way. I'm inclined to advocate for them and run down field to make sure they're set up for success. If you follow that formula, amazing things happen. If you understand people's motivations and their skills, you can harness those with the right set of objectives to get the job done.
What are your goals for the administration's second-term management agenda?
Smarter, more effective government-and getting things done so Americans can step back and say, "Wow, the government is spending my money wisely and doing things in a way that is effective." It's important to keep our eye on what Americans will notice. They sometimes walk away from an experience saying, "Government is too big, it's too complex, it's not well managed." We need to streamline those experiences. If you can track your passport application the way you can track an Amazon package, or if you can run transactions with a focus on customer friendliness, it ends up not being about big government or government inefficiency.