The plans are in. Reform is in motion. Now what?

Welcome to the first issue of our new agency reform e-newsletter. The Center for Organizational Excellence (COE) has created this space to make it easy for key players, influencers and government employees to know what to expect during this time of change and to learn from the experiences of other agencies traveling the same path to reform. Our short e-newsletter focuses on key reform topics, summarizing recent happenings, highlighting new developments, and offering guidance for successfully executing reform initiatives at your agency. The newsletter will include takeaways, links to articles, and insight on how to address the effects of the plans, as well as original work from COE that reflects the current climate in government. Agency and industry input will further enrich this e-newsletter, so please contact us at if you are interested in contributing to future e-newsletters.

Change is never easy — but we hope to make this very significant change a bit easier. Tune in, send feedback, and help turn this reform into something lasting.

Steve Goodrich

President and CEO
The Center for Organizational Excellence, Inc.


This month's takeaways on agency reform:

  1. Federal agencies submitted their final Reform Plans on Sept. 30, 2017.
  2. OMB is currently in the review process and will release the Reform Plans after OMB submits the fiscal 2019 budget request to Congress.
  3. Despite OMB's reform memorandum calling for a "comprehensive plan for reforming the federal government reducing the federal civilian workforce," many agencies have indicated their Reform Plans will not focus on cutting their full-time staff.  Read more
  4. Because agency Reform Plans are not public yet, federal employees remain anxious regarding possible layoffs and workforce reductions.
  5. In order to realize long-term change, Reform Plans should not be narrowly focused on reducing the workforce, but instead aimed at improving the effectiveness and efficiency while maintaining a workforce with the right skills and of the right size to execute the mission.  Read more


2017 Federal Invest in What Works Index — Results for America

Check out an overview highlighting the extent to which certain agencies are currently building the infrastructure necessary to be able to use data, evidence and evaluation in budget, policy and management decisions.

Reform Should Focus on Workforce Alignment, Not On Staffing Cuts

COE president, Steve Goodrich, weighs in on agency reform, "A narrow focus on reducing the workforce is absolutely the wrong way to achieve efficiency and effectiveness... the key is to align the workforce with new priorities."

House Democrats: Hold Hearings on the 'Degradation of the Federal Workforce'

House Democrats call mandated reorganizations "degradation of the federal workforce."

OMB Needs Bigger Budget So It Can Cut Other Agencies, Director Says

OMB looks for a bigger budget while other agencies have theirs cut.

A Ray of Hope in Government Management

The GAO assessed that agencies still aren't very good at being results oriented, but they do seem to be making progress in collaborating across organizational boundaries.

Some Agencies Say Reform Plans Won't Focus on Job Cuts, Layoffs Unlikely

Big reform doesn't need to mean big staffing cuts. VA, Interior and other agencies are not focusing on cutting their workforces as part of their reform plans.

Making Trump's Government Reforms Stick

Reform plans require persistence. Government Executive reports on advice shared by agency reform leaders at COE's August Reform Summit. The goal: long-term, systemic change.

One Reorganization Idea That Nearly Everyone Can Agree On

The House Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs and Federal Management learned that experts agree that there are too many layers of management during a second panel on OMB's agency reorganization, this time getting input from experts on the successes and failures of past efforts.

Read the full testimony.


The Effect Agency Reform Has on Human Capital

Contributed by COE Consultant Anna Weldon

When agencies talk about reform and realignment, human capital obviously follows. This reform initiative is no exception, and the breadth of the expected agency reforms have certain human capital implications. During this time, agencies must address human capital so as to ensure effective systemic reform moves forward with a well-groomed workforce that is operational in enacting and supporting the transformation.
Employees already have begun to hear about buyouts and retirement packages, as well as significant shifts and changes among personnel. They have also heard that these things may not happen, as agencies are seeking to maintain their staffing levels and in-place skilled workforce. While reform does not always mean a smaller workforce, it might mean a different one. Today’s workforce may not get agencies where they want to be. The Executive Order released in March mentioned the workforce extensively as where agencies should start their mission. Naturally, as agencies enact their reform plans, they need to understand how workforce planning fits into that effort. This means they need to focus on human capital strategies.
Agencies must look at the skills they have today and understand how they align with their future initiatives. The inclination is to offer buyouts and early retirements, which of course creates a level of anxiety among federal employees. But buyouts cause agencies to lose brain power, and while they may be necessary, it is critical to acquire different skill sets, which means you may need a different workforce or training opportunities to support a current workforce.
This process can be positive for an agency. Rather than focusing on employees at this exact point in their careers, take a holistic approach and look at the entire lifecycle; see how that aligns with the agency’s mission throughout the reform initiative. Think about human capital holistically in terms of finding, hiring and developing, and what employees need at these different stages. Much of this relies on good management to then incentivize good work and guide employees to aspire to greatness. Still, employees will help shape this reform, and having the right workforce with the right projection will be critical to agencies’ success.
This article is part one of a two-part series on Oversight Perspective. Part two will be featured in the next e-newsletter.

Check out more INSIGHTS on Agency Reform!