What's Next

By C. Morgan Kinghorn and William Shields Jr.

With the rough-and-tumble presidential campaign behind us, commentators will examine the dynamics that shaped the 2004 election. They will ponder events that appeared on the front pages of newspapers, in the evening news and on the Internet, and influenced voter attitudes.

The choice in candidates may have been stark, but there was little opportunity in the heat of the campaign to explore broad choices, lay out alternatives, have meaningful discussions, or develop workable solutions for major issues.

While the commentators look back, fellows of the National Academy of Public Administration are looking forward.

For five months in Government Executive, they have offered management advice to the next president.

Some issues played prominently on the political landscape: battling bioterrorism, reforming health care, negotiating fiscal issues. But others are no less important, including managing across different levels of government and reforming regulation.

Four themes woven throughout the articles would serve the next administration well in the transition from campaigning to governing.

  1. Establish a management capacity to effectively administer programs and deliver services.
  2. Several authors made compelling cases for a renewed emphasis on management, from strengthening the "M" at the Office of Management and Budget to integrating management into planning the president's initiatives. In the hustle and bustle of a transition, the president cannot let management fall by the wayside. The consequences would be enormous - namely in program initiatives that are tough to deliver, and in public distrust of government. Building on the President's Management Agenda - focusing on results and accountability in human capital, competitive sourcing, electronic government, financial management and integrating performance measures into the budget process - would send an early message of commitment to improving government performance.

  3. Strengthen creative approaches to service.
  4. Social, economic and technological changes are fundamentally altering the institutions on which citizens rely. Governments at every level are looking to creative partnerships to deliver those services. This collaboration should be encouraged. Because the merging of public and private governance will continue, it is equally crucial to test new management models.

  5. Develop stakeholder involvement.
  6. The need for stakeholder input - spanning sectors, levels of government and political parties - is greater than ever. Several years ago, the National Academy of Public Administration developed principles of effective consultation with stakeholders, which is the key to successful coordination and collaboration. The principles address inclusive process, two-way information exchange, access to decision-makers and feedback.

  7. Ensure a government that works for all.

Christopher Edley, dean of the School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley, wrote that policymakers rarely get caught up in carefully defining social roles, even though choosing social priorities is inescapably political. But both are critical to ensuring that a government of the people serves all the people. We need an informed public debate on the tough issues of the 21st century, not safe positions that fail to get at root causes.

These are big ideas that require big thinking and practical solutions. As leaders advising leaders, the National Academy of Public Administration stands ready to inform the public on the wider, and sometimes difficult, range of alternatives.