President's Management Agenda



To reform government, we must rethink government. The need for reform is urgent. The General Accounting Office (GAO) “high-risk” list identifies areas throughout the federal government that are most vulnerable to fraud, waste, and abuse. Ten years ago, the GAO found eight such areas. Today it lists 22. Perhaps as significant, government programs too often deliver inadequate service at excessive cost. New programs are frequently created with little review or assessment of the already-existing programs to address the same perceived problem. Over time, numerous programs with overlapping missions and competing agendas grow up alongside one another—wasting money and baffling citizens.

Though reform is badly needed, the obstacles are daunting—as previous generations of would be reformers have repeatedly discovered. The work of reform is continually overwhelmed by the constant multiplication of hopeful new government programs, each of whose authors is certain that this particular idea will avoid the managerial problems to which all previous government programs have succumbed. Congress, the Executive Branch, and the media have all shown far greater interest in the launch of new initiatives than in following up to see if anything useful ever occurred.

So while the government needs to reform its operations—how it goes about its business and how it treats the people it serves, it also needs to rethink its purpose—how it defines what business is and what services it should provide.The President’s vision for government reform is guided by three principles. Government should be:

— Citizen-centered, not bureaucracy-centered;

— Results-oriented;

— Market-based, actively promoting rather than stifling innovation through competition.

The President has called for a government that is active but limited, that focuses on priorities and does them well. That same spirit should be brought to the work of reform. Rather than pursue an array of management initiatives, we have elected to identify the government’s most glaring problems—and solve them. The President’s Management Agenda is a starting point for management reform.

  • The Agenda contains five government-wide and nine agency-specific goals to improve federal management and deliver results that matter to the American people.
  • It reflects the Administration’s commitment to achieve immediate, concrete, and measurable results in the near term.
  • It focuses on remedies to problems generally agreed to be serious, and commits to implement them fully.
  • The goals in this Agenda are being undertaken in advance of, not instead of other needed management improvements.
  • Additional goals will be undertaken, as tangible improvements are made in this initial set of initiatives.