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Eye Opener: Another look at fixing government

By Ed O'Keefe

Eye Opener

Happy Thursday! Just about everyone agrees that the federal government needs fixing, and a liberal think tank friendly with the Obama administration will start tackling that issue later today.

The Center for American Progress -- a former employer of many administration officials -- launches a two-year review of government operations on Thursday morning with a focus on eliminating or rethinking spending programs and tax expenditures focused on the group's three favorite areas of concerns: health care, energy and education. It will also work on finding ways to boost government productivity by working on improving government transparency, performance measurement and evaluation.

If those goals sounds familiar, it's because the Office of Management and Budget is already conducting such a review on the inside. The administration's review of government operations includes major contracting reforms, the administration's open government directive and some ambitious management goals published in President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget proposal.

"I think we can really help that agenda along," said Reece Rushing, CAP's director of government reform, who coauthored the project's opening study with CAP founder and former White House chief of staff John Podesta. "One of the things we want to do is identify success stories, bring them forward and expand those ideas. When you're in government, you have your day to day business distractions and sometimes it's a little difficult to step back and think. I think we can provide them support in that way."

And OMB certainly doesn't mind the help.

"We're looking for good ideas everywhere," said White House Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients. He's spent much of his tenure meeting with federal workers and managers, good government groups and major corporate CEOs in an effort to rethink government management and adapt some private sector ideas to the federal government.

Zients will speak at Thursday's kickoff event and outline his strategy for putting the good ideas he's heard into practice. He's especially focus on things like getting the administration's top policy goals completed and the major contracting reforms that the administration hopes will save taxpayers $40 billion over two years.

CAP especially wants to sort out which tax expenditures (or "tax credits") are working and whether some are just draining the federal coffers, Reece said. Such tax credits don't get tracked and reviewed the way Washington reviews spending programs, and CAP hopes to change that.

Considering recent polling and the lack of progress by the White House and Congress on several big issues, it seems any effort to fix Washington's ways will be welcomed. Do you have your own ideas on how to fix government operations? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.

Leave your thoughts in the comments section below

Cabinet and Staff News: An interview with NOAA's new head of fisheries. Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher will speak on arms trade. Obama nominates former Clinton national security adviser Tony Lake for UNICEF post. Veterans Affairs Sec. Eric Shinseki visits Texas and New Mexico... EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Education Secretary Arne Duncan visit Ohio... Commerce Secretary Gary Locke appears with Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Pa.) in Pittsburgh... more details at WhoRunsGov's Cabinet Calendar.

CPSC vows to crack down on defective cribs: The agency's chairman warns crib makers that her agency is cracking down on defective equipment and will push through tougher federal requirements for cribs.

Defense launches General Schedule training program: The training program, called GS 101, takes about 30 minutes to complete and includes quizzes at the end of each section.

Military retirees volunteer for active duty: There are 974 current U.S. Army enlisted men and officers who volunteered to return to active duty after retirement.

Veterans speak out against burn pits: A range of health problems are linked to the pits on military bases in Iraq and Afghanistan. Toxic substances have been found in the smoke.

White House crafts jobs bill, a year into stimulus effort: The Obama administration is acknowledging that its program of spending cuts and tax breaks has yet to ease joblessness, and White House officials are increasingly engaged in shaping the details of new legislation to boost job creation.

Stimulus money won't fund plan to transform K Street transportation: Funding to create bus lanes on the street will have to be found elsewhere.

Lawmakers to launch bipartisan effort to rewrite No Child Left Behind: Many analysts say time is growing short for passage of a major education bill before the midterm elections because Congress is consumed by the economy, health care and financial regulation.

Environmental advocates are cooling on Obama: The president's recent enthusiasm for nuclear power, including his budget proposal to triple federal loan guarantees for new nuclear reactors to $54 billion, is too much for some.

Officials, often tight-lipped, openly voice deficit concerns: Though only a minority so far, they are warning that a failure to bring the budget under control could lead to a dangerous spiral of inflation.

Homeland Security reports losing guns: Officers lost nearly 200 guns in bowling alleys, public restrooms, unlocked cars and other unsecure areas, with some ending up in the hands of felons. The problem, outlined in a new federal report, has prompted disciplinary actions and extra training.

Retirees trade work for rent at cash-poor parks: An itinerant, footloose army of available and willing retirees in their 60s and 70s is marching through the American outback, looking to stretch retirement dollars by volunteering to work in parks, campgrounds and wildlife sanctuaries, usually in exchange for camping space.

NASA shows off stunning images of Andromeda: The agency has released some pretty pictures of our nearest galactic neighbor, some 2.5 million light-years away from our own Milky Way Galaxy.

Postal Service foresees insolvency - unless Congress acts: Sounds like a broken record, right? Everything will be fine if Congress approves a five-day mail delivery schedule and change the way the agency funds its retiree health benefits, officials say.

U.S. mail, FedEx and UPS delivery service nearly back to normal after snow: The Postal Service was unable to deliver mail during the Feb. 6 storm, marking the first time in 30 years that had happened. Delivery was also halted Feb. 10.

Air travelers will face new security procedure at U.S. airports: The agency will begin randomly swabbing U.S. travelers' hands and baggage for explosives beyond security checkpoints at airports starting Thursday.

Administration pushed to expand foreclosure-prevention program: The $75 billion program pays lenders to modify the mortgages of troubled borrowers, typically lowering their payments by about $500 a month.

Agreement near on new overseer of banking risks: The Senate and the Obama administration are nearing agreement on forming a council of regulators, led by the Treasury secretary, to identify systemic risk to the nation’s financial system, officials said Wednesday.

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By Ed O'Keefe  | February 18, 2010; 6:00 AM ET
Categories:  Administration, Eye Opener  
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Best way to fix the government? More epic snowstorms and a Metro system that reduces service to the point that bureaucrats can't get to work.

Posted by: member5 | February 18, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

First and foremost...

Why aren't us American's fighting for our rights? Right of FREEDOM OF SPEECH. We can't take care of our United States but we can help other countries...all to LOOK GOOD to them.

Meanwhile, our schools aren't being supported by this so called lottery and taxes that the states are collecting.

Medical and Dental are not offered for all.

Children and elderly aren't getting the care they need.

We are taxed to death! Our gross income is taxed, our employers/business owners are taxed, we purchase something we are taxed, we have to pay taxes at the end of the year (most of the time).

Yet money is given to non profits. Grants are given out. Welfare has no limits on how many kids you can have.

Give money to other countries and foreigners. Here's money if you come to the states. Here's money if you start a business. Here's credit to live beyond our means.

Come on let's all be accountable and responsible and not spend money on the latest and greatest, live within our means!

You purchase a house $100,000.00 that house is resold how many times for the banks, states and government to make lots of money.

Let's stop spending, and see how the states and government deal with that.

States and Government What is it like to have so much money? Not worry about feeding our families, having medical dental and a good education.

Posted by: thebakersdaughter | February 23, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

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