HomeKeys to Greater EffectivenessMore Effective ProgramsObstacles

Last Updated: March 23, 2007

Federal employees could be even more effective and make an even bigger difference if we could remove obstacles to success like those listed below. We are working on it.

Please email other obstacles you see to greater program effectiveness.

Congress and the press critique how much money is spent from year-to-year on important programs, rather than on what we actually purchase with the money we do spend. They suggest that an increase or decrease in funding means we care more or less about the programs’ beneficiaries, without focusing on whether or not the target group is being well served by the money we do spend.
The funds needed to eliminate improper payments are often diverted to other uses by Congress through the appropriations process, and by agencies during budget execution, even though each dollar invested in improper payment reduction brings in many more times that in savings.
Our civil service rules call for top performers to get the same annual pay increase given to every other employee.
A single Hill staffer, not elected by anyone and without the understanding of the elected officials involved, is allowed to put language into an appropriation subcommittee's bill that would cripple a widely regarded government-wide management initiative, simply to address his or her personal prejudice.
Our civil service rules call for unsatisfactory performers to get the same annual pay increase given to all other employees.
We are especially bad managers of very large IT projects. We buy more IT goods and services than anyone else in the world and should be the best at it, but we're not. Our primary problem is that we are not as good as we need to be at clearly defining the functionality we want a large, new IT system to provide: if we don't know what we're trying to purchase, we will almost certainly not acquire what we need to better serve the country.
There is little systematic accountability for results in the Federal government. Agencies report annually on their performance, and how they intend to address performance shortfalls, but little occurs as a result of the report: the consequences tend to be the same whether the performance is as desired or not.
A long-standing statutory ban precludes the Department of Veterans Affairs from using competition to determine the most effective and efficient way to provide highly commercial activities such as laundry services, sanitation, grounds maintenance and basic food services. Studies indicate a competitive review of these costs could most likely free-up as much as $1.3 billion over a five-year period which could be otherwise dedicated to the direct needs of our veterans.