Quote of the week
“Given the pressure to reduce the federal deficit, and in particular federal spending, agencies are obligated to find ways to operate more efficiently now and over the long term.”
— GAO Report
The US Government Accounting Office (GAO) presented a report to a subcommittee of the Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that discussed best practices of some federal and state government departments in achieving efficiencies.
The main lesson that comes from the document is that sustained, well-planned and well-led change management practices are the way to go if the results are to be ongoing. These change management practices often involve finding internal efficiencies that “individually result in relatively small savings and nonfinancial efficiencies, but that collectively added up to more significant efficiency gains.”
One issue involves the investment in upfront costs, always a challenge in cash-strapped times. The GAO reminded the Congressional subcommittee that it had recommended setting up a “governmentwide fund where agencies, based on a well-developed business case, could apply for funds to modernize their performance management systems.” By the way, the UK under the Big Society project has set up such a fund.
The list of key management practices for success will come as no surprise, including leadership, the setting of goals, consultation, targeting both short- and long-term efficiencies and building sustained capacity for change.
The report noted that making change while continuing to provide good service is a “difficult balance.” No big news here…
Supporting the notion of creating venues for sharing information and of breaking down silos, the GAO recommended setting up crosscutting management councils where best practices can be discussed and lessons learned.