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Operational Effectiveness in the Public Sector: What it Can Offer and How to Get Started

With significant budget cuts and hiring freezes, public sector organizations are under increasing pressure to improve mission delivery without access to additional resources. As a result, government leaders are being asked to focus on reducing inefficiencies by reforming the way their organizations are structured and how operations are managed.

The Push for Operational Effectiveness

In recent years, numerous acts, executive orders, and OMB memorandum have been issued that require Federal and Defense Agencies to improve the efficiency of their operations to make more effective use on their budges. These mandates include such topics as the following:

• Strategic Sourcing
• Category Management 
 IT Reform: H.R. 3979, Federal Information Technology Acquisition Reform Act (FITARA)
• Software Licensing: H.R. 4904, The MEGABYTE Act
• Data Usage and Value: M-19-18, Federal Data Strategy
• Shared Services: M-19-16, Centralized Mission Support Capabilities for the Federal Government
Cost Efficiency: M-17-22, Comprehensive Plan for Reforming the Federal Government and Reducing the Federal Civilian Workforce
• Workforce Planning: H.R. 2142, GPRA Modernization Act

The underlying theme across these mandates is that agencies have no choice but to improve their operational effectiveness because budgets are going to continue to shrink, while mission outcome expectations will only continue to increase.

The Opportunity

Although the mandates surrounding operational effectiveness are all intended to promote the adoption of private-sector best practices, it is not always clear how best to implement them within the federal environment.

This creates an interesting opportunity for forward-thinking leaders to design implementation approaches that will work best for their environment, rather than being forced to fit into a suboptimal “one size fits all” approach. It also creates significant opportunities for individuals to become recognized as true leaders in pushing the government forward.

I have seen many of my clients experience immense success when they decided to champion their own roadmaps for operational effectiveness. They have been able to tangibly improve delivery on mission priorities and provide better value for the taxpayer, while simultaneously fast-tracking their own careers.

Let’s Get Started

Over the past 16 years, my colleagues and I have been focused specifically on driving operational excellence within the federal government. Through this 11-week blog series, I will highlight a different key area of operational excellence each week, drawing on my experience to share lessons learned, common pitfalls and best practices.

My intent for this series is to provide knowledge and perspectives that can be used by federal program leaders to create their own roadmap towards operational excellence that will ultimately help both them and their programs achieve success. I hope that the insights I share also serve to start a dialogue around these topics, where readers will share their thoughts, experiences, frustrations, and successes for the benefit of all. Please comment below about which topics are of specific interest and I’ll make sure it is covered.

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