Are There Differences Between the Presidents' Management Agendas?

Jerry Ashworth
September 25, 2018 at 13:12:03 ET
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Sometimes you get those rare occasions when you can say it’s a good thing to use the axiom, “The more things change; the more things stay the same.” Ironically, we’re talking about the current and most recently departed presidential administrations.

Let me explain. For all the bluster we see in the headlines as to which administration – the Trump administration or Obama administration – should get credit for positive developments or blame for those that are negative, there seems to be one area where some think the change has been minimal. At the recent Association of Government Accountants 2018 Internal Control and Fraud Prevention Training conference in Washington, D.C., a panel of federal chief financial officers (CFOs) was asked to compare the differences between the goals of the Obama’s Presidential Management Agenda (PMA) and Trump’s PMA. Their response: very little.

“I think [both PMA’s] are focusing on the same thing,” said Carole Banks, deputy CFO for the Department of Treasury. “In terms of financial management, we are all striving for becoming more efficient, driving innovative solutions, and keeping our costs down low with high value. I don’t think there’s any difference with the intent of all of the goals.”

Both president’s management agendas touted strengthening the federal workforce and promoting the use of technology for accountability and transparency. Added Stacy Marcott, acting CFO of the Department of Homeland Security: “We’re carrying on the good work now that was going on before. I think one of the emphases now is really focusing on the integration and overlap on how the goals feed into each other. I think the recognition of that, and drawing some of those integration points together, has really helped strengthen those goals."

Now, to be fair, there are definitely differences. The Trump agenda seeks to delve down using data to find the root cause of government inefficiencies, and it takes more of a long-term approach compared to his predecessor’s plan. The CFOs presenting at the conference also may have been somewhat reluctant to specify any of the true differences between the plans should they be seen as favoring one against the other. However, at least these management agendas put forth a blueprint for the federal government to take to ensure that federal finances are managed properly and that programs are bringing their desired results.

Only time will tell if the goals of the current agenda will come to fruition.

As a reminder, our final Federal Funding Training Forum scheduled for 2018 will be Wednesday October 17 through Friday October 19 in Atlanta. Please let me know if you have questions or can make this forum. We hope to see you there!

In addition, we are now offering a procurement boot camp Wednesday October 24 in Washington, D.C. Feel free to contact us if you are interested in this program!