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President Joe Biden’s management agenda was, until last week, merely an idea. Now it is turning into an action plan complete with strategy leaders and metrics for success. Jason Miller, the deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget, spoke to the Federal Drive with Tom Temin about the president’s management agenda and what he hopes it will accomplish.
“We released a vision grounded in values for improving the capacity of the federal government to do its business to deliver on mission to restore the American people’s trust in government,” Miller said.
The president wants to make the federal government a model employer for American companies, and to accomplish that, OMB is focusing on three priority areas: strengthening and empowering the federal workforce, delivering excellent equitable and secure federal services and customer experience, and managing the business of government to build back better.
One of the major priority areas is a focus on people because they are the core asset of any organization today, Miller said.
“When you look at the level of engagement relative to the labor market overall, particularly the moment that we have a tight labor market, we have to be a competitive employer, we have to have a highly engaged workforce,” Miller said.
The implementation of this new management agenda won’t come without some extra work. Miller said that anytime there is cross-government work there will be a little extra effort required. He also said that it’s important for leadership to focus on people as a top asset just like any other large organization’s senior leadership or CEO.
One area of improvement, Miller said, was increasing the proportion of Hispanic and Black employees in the Senior Executive Service. He said that his team is looking at empowering the federal workforce. He also wants to make federal employees feel that their workplace is inclusive.
The improvements are not limited to current federal employees. Miller said that the president’s new management agenda plans to address challenges faced in the hiring process, specifically the length of time it takes to learn whether or not an applicant has been offered a job.
“So undoubtedly, length is a challenge, particularly in a competitive labor market,” Miller said. “One piece of our work here is our efforts to improve and transform the personnel vetting system across the federal government and for security and suitability.”
To accomplish that, Miller said OMB is looking beyond just timelines and checking to see if the government is attracting the right people for the right role and that agencies are actually meeting their targets and filling jobs.
A common thread throughout the Biden administration’s management agenda is a focus on life experiences. Miller said that this is a recognition of the fact that there are times in most people’s lives where interactions with the government are critical to the individual. For example, retirement and interacting with the Social Security Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services for Medicare benefits.
“And for you, as an individual, you don’t want to have to interact with different agencies that all treat you as a separate person.” Miller said. “You want the government to see you as a person who’s trying to make a decision, a person who needs good information, a person whose time is valuable, a person who wants the service provider to be responsive to their needs.”
To accomplish that, Miller said he wants the government to approach as one entity. But to stave off any concern about an overbearing government, he said this goal is not to be more intrusive and not to have more touchpoints with the government. Rather, it is to acknowledge that there are places where the government is critical to individuals.
Miller also said that improving digital interactions between government agencies and people is necessary.
“We want digital to be an available option, because it’s often, particularly now, for most people, incredibly convenient,” Miller said. “But if that was the only option, in certain cases, it would decrease accessibility for those services. So we need to get the balance right.”
For those interested in getting involved who work within the federal government, Miller encouraged them to reach out to their deputy secretary or deputy administrator.
“Being engaged in strengthening your own teams, investing in the people around you, is the most important thing that all of us can be doing to the extent you want to be participating in this work,” Miller said.