Five Steps to Building an Evidence-Based Culture in Government

OMB’s guidance to agencies on the development of their FY 2015 budgets promises that “OMB will issue a separate memo at a later date that encourages the increased use of evidence and evaluation, including rigorous testing of innovative strategies to build new knowledge of what works.” This encouragement comes on top of a foundation already under development in many agencies. 

 

State, Local, and International Evidence-Based Government Initiatives

While the federal government is undertaking a number of evidence-based program initiatives, the “moneyball government” movement is broader, encompassing initiatives at the state, local, and even international levels.

 

Examples of State-Level Efforts

How Non-Profits and Foundations Support Evidence-Based Government

Non-profits, foundations, and universities are enthused by government’s growing interest in the use of evidence and evaluation. They are chiming in with either support for government initiatives or undertaking their own.

Leadership: It's a Personal Commitment (Part 2)

One former senior level political appointee, Linda Springer, recently observed that a common set of successful characteristics private sector – being decisive, directive, and a risk taker – could actually undermine success in the public sector.  So what works best in the public sector?

Here’s my list of seven characteristics I see as the foundation for a personal commitment to being an effective public sector leader. These characteristics hold true for effective managers, as well:

Co-Delivery: Beyond Traditional Citizen Engagement

How can governments at all levels engage their citizens in ways that are more meaningful – and fun -- to both the citizens and their community? A series of pioneering initiatives hold new promise that this now can be done on a much wider scale.

Leadership: It's Both Lonely and a Team Sport

Leading Can Be Lonely.  Senior leaders can feel lonely when they have significant responsibilities and oftentimes little authority or control over a situation, and they have no one they can turn to.  I’ve seen several approaches to addressing this. 

Leadership: It Depends on the Deck You've Been Dealt (Part 4)

But in reality, the success of a leader depends on the context, or environment, in which they work – the deck they’ve been dealt. Even the heroes. 

But as the context – the workplace, the workers, and the work – change (because we are in more of a knowledge-based economy) -- a different type of leader tends to be more successful, especially when the challenge is cross-agency and/or cross-sector. The “lone hero” isn’t always the most effective leader in this new world.  In fact, the best leaders tend to share leadership in any large-scale change effort.  For example: 

How Understanding Behavior Influences Program Performance

Government managers, however, can use these new approaches to dramatically improve the performance of their programs, if done right.

Climate Change Is Now a High Risk

Typically, we think of the GAO focusing on territory familiar to auditors, which is what most of the high risk list does:  managing federal real property, DOD supply chain management, NASA acquisitions management, modernizing federal disability programs.  But now it has added a politically-charged topic to its list, but has taken the middle of the road on the topic.

Leadership in a Changing World

So this was an opportunity for me to reflect on my experiences and observations over my career.

Leadership can be a difficult topic about which to convey anything meaningful.  There is so much written about the topic and it either feels like conceptual theory or platitudes, or you wind up narrating personal war stories.  I’m no Tom Fox, who writes thoughtfully about this topic weekly for the Washington Post!

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Senior Fellow
IBM Center for The Business of Government
600 14th Street, NW Second Floor
Washington, DC 20005
United States
202-551-9341

Mr. Kamensky is a Senior Fellow with the IBM Center for The Business of Government and an Associate Partner with IBM's Global Business Services.

During 24 years of public service, he had a significant role in helping pioneer the federal government's performance and results orientation. Mr. Kamensky is passionate about helping transform government to be more results-oriented, performance-based, customer-driven, and collaborative in nature.

Prior to joining the IBM Center, he served for eight years as deputy director of Vice President Gore's National Partnership for Reinventing Government. Before that, he worked at the Government Accountability Office where he played a key role in the development and passage of the Government Performance and Results Act.

Since joining the IBM Center, he has co-edited six books and writes and speaks extensively on performance management and government reform.  Current areas of emphasis include transparency, collaboration, and citizen engagement.  He also blogs about management challenges in government.

Mr. Kamensky is a fellow of the National Academy of Public Administration and received a Masters in Public Affairs from the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, in Austin, Texas. He can be reached at: john.kamensky@us.ibm.com

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