Getting Ready for 2017: An Introduction to the Plum Book

By G. Edward DeSeve and Mark A. Abramson

plum book

Get ready for the most popular new website in Washington coming in December 2016. In December, the Government Publishing Office (GPO) will release two versions of the quadrennial United States Policy and Supporting Positions, more popularly known as the “Plum Book.” GPO will release a digital version of the book on their website, and hard copy.

United States Policy and Supporting Positions was first published in 1952 when incoming President Dwight Eisenhower sought information on how many political appointments he could fill after twenty years of Democratic administrations. With the exception of 1956, the book has been published every four years since then. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and the Senate Committee on Government Affairs alternate in compiling the book.  In 2017, it will be compiled by the Senate Committee on Government Affairs. The most recent edition was published by GPO in December of 2012. Always looking to sell books, GPO used a brilliant shade of plum to color the cover.  Continue reading “Getting Ready for 2017: An Introduction to the Plum Book”


Can We Finally Link Foresight To Policy?

By Leon Fuerth

We are entering a season when many groups are thinking about how to advise the next Administration on matters of policy, organization, or both.  NAPA is now working on this, specifically addressing the challenge of how to incorporate strategic foresight and policy.

Addressing this challenge is a significant intellectual effort, but even more formidable in terms of political psychology. Successful politicians will, in the course of their campaigns, have already projected a narrative about what they intend to do if elected. Continue reading “Can We Finally Link Foresight To Policy?”

Complex Situations Demand Preparation for Collaboration

By Diane M. Disney

Historically, higher education in this country required mastery of a core curriculum (English, history, math, foreign language, science, and so on) as well as a major field of study, which had limited choices within a set structure.  Some notion of the core remains, but the “major” has been transformed.  In the 1970s students began to fashion their own majors, often with some exotic results.  But as time passed, institutions began offering multidisciplinary majors, which ensured that a graduate would know a lot about one area but also something about others with which there might be interaction. Continue reading “Complex Situations Demand Preparation for Collaboration”

Cross-Sector Collaboration Can Simplify Funding and Administration

By Diane M. Disney

In today’s toxic political climate, notions of collaboration sometimes carry the suggestion of World War II traitors who worked to support the enemy forces.  In reality, however, the “other” is not an invading force but rather another governmental agency, a nonprofit, or a business that shares the need and desire to make progress in a given area.  Collaboration is something that requires one to look beyond short-term boundaries to see a greater good or a goal that cannot be reached when stakeholders work on their own.

A few weeks ago Don Kettl and Robert O’Neill presented a clear case for collaboration in the Federal government with four very straightforward recommendations for the next president, ranging from the transformation and elevation of the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs to the creation of a special track within the Senior Executive Service to focus on “cross-sector, intergovernmental, and multi-program skills.”  Expanding that list requires looking to the past and to non-Federal sources for ideas. Continue reading “Cross-Sector Collaboration Can Simplify Funding and Administration”

Seeing Over the Horizon

By John Kamensky

How can we bring Strategic Foresight into conversations on management priorities in the next presidential administration?  Why is this even worth discussing, especially given the urgent pressures of dealing with today’s challenges?

The interstate highway system was declared complete on October 14, 1992, after 35 years of construction.  Authorized in 1956 by President Dwight Eisenhower as a necessary component of national defense, the highway system transformed America’s culture, economy, and environment.  Could these radical changes have been foreseen?  Where they all for the better?  Could better foresight have precluded the population shift from cities to suburbs, the decline of urban tax bases to fund schools, and the impact of an automobile culture on the environment? Continue reading “Seeing Over the Horizon”

Reflections on the Nixon National Goals Research Staff

By Ken Hunter

Has a previous White House sponsored a major foresight initiative? Yes, the Nixon White House starting in 1969.

The core of the global futures controversy in the late 1960s was the “limits to growth debate.” The Nixon Administration started immediately to address growth policy. On July 13, 1969, President Nixon announced the establishment of the National Goals Research Staff within the White House to operate under the direction of Leonard Garment, Daniel P. Moynihan, and Arthur Burns, all senior Presidential advisors. Continue reading “Reflections on the Nixon National Goals Research Staff”

Transitions Past…Any Lessons for the Next Transition?

By David Chu

It’s been my privilege to participate in six transitions—symmetrically, three in, three out.  (That’s counting generously, since it includes as one set the “friendly” transition from President Reagan’s administration to President George H.W. Bush’s.)  It’s only a limited sample, and all the data points involve a single cabinet agency.  Moreover, each differs in its specific circumstances.  But looking back, I think some generalizations are possible, especially regarding management challenges.  Whether they are likely to apply going forward I leave to the reader’s speculation. Continue reading “Transitions Past…Any Lessons for the Next Transition?”