Although President-Elect Obama has made some shrewd
appointments, his lack of management experience does show itself in his decision
to appoint a “Chief Performance Officer”.
On paper the new post sounds a good idea. After all, it is
about time someone did what it is supposed to do – to go through the whole
federal budget and make sure the taxpayers are getting value for money.
The problem is that there are already at least half-a-dozen
offices in different parts of the federal bureaucracy which are supposed to be
doing just that.
Adding one more – complete with full supporting staff, plush
offices, expense accounts, equal opportunities courses, and the rest of the
public sector paraphernalia – simply adds to that bureaucracy.
Indeed, the whole concept of “performance review” as a
separate function – under various names – is itself a very public sector
Very few private companies have a separate department to carry
out that role.
Instead the role is taken to be part of the responsibilities
of every manager at every level. If a subordinate manager’s performance is
inadequate, it is not a matter of “internal audit” or “review” – he is simply
removed by his superior.
To have a separate department would be a wasteful
duplication of resources. It would also disrupt the chain of command.
The President-Elect would do well to learn from the private
sector: instead of adding to the wasteful bureaucracy of the federal
government, he should ask Congress for the power to make it easier to remove
managers, at all levels, who perform poorly.
At the same time, entrepreneurs can learn from the public
sector... how not to structure an organisation.