Rigorous Management of the Presidential Change Agenda

By Ken Hunter

The United States and the world are in a time of major structural changes – a turning point – with significant imbalances and instability, widespread confusion and conflicts, as well as opportunities and new frontiers.

I see it as critical that the new administration promptly position itself on each major set of change initiatives –those that it promised as well as the big messes it inherited. Each position should be supported by aligned and implementable goals, strategies and narratives; a set of change agendas; and full mobilization of the Federal government’s policy and management talent and networks.

To take immediate ownership and leadership of change, the transition should include developing three integrated agendas for each major initiative:

  • An operations agenda for government performance goals and improvement. Align and direct changes in the current government systems to support each major initiative with authorities and resources already available under current laws.
  • A reform agenda. To implement each major change initiative, seek changes in laws, funding and institutions to align, modernize and streamline government systems; employ best technologies and practices; and strengthen the core communities of practice, intergovernmental relationships, public-private-independent sector collaboration, and international relationships.
  • A turning point agenda. Considering that major structural changes are underway in the world and that the United States will continue to be a leading nation in all domains, for each major initiative direct the development of very long term goals for governance and the paradigm shifts and pioneering needed to achieve them along with visions and narratives of the systems after next.

4 - Figure 1 - Agenda

To manage these integrated short, medium, and long-term agendas, immediately mobilize the talent and processes of the Executive branch via the Executive Office of the President’s various staffs, councils and offices and a small coordinating team in the White House. This will include the following five actions:

  1. Revise both the content and the process of the federal budget as well as the related strategic planning, risk assessment and accountability processes. Each major initiative will likely involve multiple departments and agencies and a huge number of Congressional committees; the budget and budget process are the only integrated vehicles for managing multi-agency operational and reform changes. Immediately engage the Federal budget network, led by OMB, to integrate the major change agendas into the revised Federal budget for the next fiscal year and the permanent guidance for the budget process; to provide directions for developing each agency’s strategic plan due within one year of the Inauguration; and to align the risk assessment, regulatory, and other management functions.
  1. Mobilize the Federal foresight and accountability community to share knowledge and best practices on designing systemic change – short, medium, and long term – and to develop implementability assessments for both reform and turning point changes.
  1. Mobilize the Federal economics and statistical communities to: (a) restructure the Economic Report of the President to focus on the change initiatives and (b) undertake a prompt and comprehensive updating of the statistical series and the assumptions and structures of the models supporting policy making to account for the turning point structural changes to more reliably support President’s change management.
  1. Mobilize the science policy community to assess the capabilities of existing and emerging technologies to support the systemic, staging and scaling dimensions of implementability assessments.
  1. Create a robust intergovernmental team and network for both overall change agenda management and for each change initiative with the governors and county and city leaders.

All of these change management functions already exist for military and diplomacy, but their interrelationship with other agendas must be aligned and managed as well.


One thought on “Rigorous Management of the Presidential Change Agenda”

  1. I like this approach to positioning the next President and government for success. I wonder though, if we could also use a bi-partisan dialog convention to rediscover common ground and create bridges to issues that may be too far connect (at the moment). Both the Democrats and Republicans seem resistant to finding common ground and there is little trust…it is as if we are part of two different nations. A trust building exercise that at the least created pathways for respectful and civil conversation/dialog/debate could create ways to move forward together.


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