Change must come from within to drive federal transformation

More than 3 million federal public servants, civilian and military, work hard every day to provide the services that Americans count on to protect our nation, grow our economy and promote our general welfare.

I just entered public service last year, after spending 27 years in the private sector. There, I learned one of the most important truths of my career — always start with the customer and the mission. So as I come into government, nearly two decades into the 21st Century, I have a passion for bringing private sector practices to the mission of government.

What is true in both the private sector and in government is that effectively serving customers and achieving mission success starts with the people who have to deliver against that mission.

Since joining the federal government, I have been privileged to serve alongside some of the best and most dedicated public servants, who share a commitment to good government.

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However, I understand the frustration with government when I read headlines about data breaches, or the delays in employment onboarding. Our workforce can only operate efficiently and effectively if they have the right tools for the mission.

When people can order a car ride to the airport with a smartphone, I cringe when I hear about all the paper required to onboard a new federal employee or contractor. This is part of why trust in government is declining.

We must change the way government operates and move our capabilities and our federal workforce into the 21st century.

The business of the federal government is to serve the American people, but we cannot perform when we have outdated technology, and we are not setting up our workforce to meet the public’s expectations.

Our country is used to leading the world in technology innovation and service delivery, and at one time, the U.S. government was the catalyst of that innovation.

As such, this administration is investing in deep-seated transformation through the President’s Management Agenda and a range of other policy actions designed to enhance our modernization agenda and provide the American people the best service available.

This agenda lays out a long-term vision for modernizing the federal government in key areas that will improve the ability of agencies to work on behalf of the American people to:

  • Deliver mission outcomes,
  • Provide excellent service to the American people, and
  • Effectively steward taxpayer dollars.

One of the most important drivers of achieving this vision is our focus on the Workforce for the 21st century. We need to provide our federal workers the tools and capabilities to best serve our citizens today and in the future.

This includes finding ways to motivate and hire the best minds to serve on the frontlines of our tech-driven missions — in cyber, data science and artificial intelligence, as well as in law enforcement and policy.

Together we are building a more dynamic and agile America, and providing 21st century services Americans can and should expect today and tomorrow.  So, I am honored to share this important mission with millions of dedicated public servants, and celebrate their commitment during Public Service Recognition Week.

Margaret Weichert is the deputy director for management at the Office of Management and Budget.