US Government: reorganization begins with trade and export agencies

October 22, 2011 No Comments

There is probably something to learn about how the US Federal Government is addressing its reorganization of trade and export agencies.

“We cannot win the future with a government of the past.” 

This is how Barack Obama set the tone during the State of the Union on January 25 2011.  .

On January 30 2011  White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer wrote on the White House blog annnounced that Jeff Zients Chief Performance Officer (CPO), was appointed to lead the reorganization of the US Federal Government and that the first focus is to look at trade and exports to see how we can better reform these functions to give American companies a leg up in the global economy. Dan Pfeiffer wrote:

“The fact is that we live and do business in the information age, but the last major reorganization of the government happened in the middle of the last century. Over the past few decades, there has not been a business or large organization that has not rethought, retooled, and revamped how they did their job to respond to a growing, more competitive global economy and an ever-changing technology landscape. Yet too often, it seems that the federal government is stuck in the age of black-and-white television while we are competing in the age of the iPad.”
“The reorganization effort, first announced in last Tuesday’s State of the Union address, is designed to eliminate redundancy in government operations by consolidating duplicative functions. More than a dozen federal agencies are involved in exports, administration officials”. “They all work with well with each other, but this is certainly not the optimal organization or allocation of resources if you were designing a system from scratch,”

On January 30th ,  White House Chief of Staff William Daley said in an interview with CBS’ Face the Nation said: “This government is structured basically mid-last century, not for the 21st century,

“”There’s enormous duplication, so I think you’re going to see a very concerted effort by the president. No doubt about it. It’s a major task.”

The proposed first steps in the Obama administration’s plans for removing duplication in government are on schedule for presentation to the president this month (June), according to Federal Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients.

The professional body of government IGs (Inspector General) formed a working group to review its past examinations of the structure of all agencies and programs dealing with exports. On May 27 2011, the Department of Agriculture (USDA) Office of Inspector General (OIG) issued a report entitled, Compilation of Prior Inspector General Reports on International Trade and Competitiveness”    which provides clues about the direction of the  reorganization of the agencies and programs dealing with exports.

The report addresses a number of factors, spread across many different agencies, that both individually and collectively have a detrimental effect on the United States’ ability to increase trade and exports and manage overall competitiveness:

  1. Duplication – Two or more agencies or programs are engaged in the same activities or provide the same services to the same beneficiaries.
  2. Fragmentation – Those circumstances in which more than one Federal agency (or more than one organization within an agency) is involved in the same broad area of national need.
  3. Overlap – Multiple agencies or programs have similar goals, engage in similar activities or strategies to achieve them, or target similar beneficiaries.
  4. Coordination – Lack of or insufficient coordination of activities, information, etc., between segments of an agency or among various agencies involved in the same or similar functions
  5. Goals/Strategy – Unclear or a lack of established goals or strategies to guide an agency in effectively and efficiently fulfilling its mission.
  6. Inefficiency – A regulatory, operational, or managerial weakness that hinders an agency from effectively and efficiently fulfilling its mission.
  7. Monetary – Concerns with the management of, or control over, loans or other credit programs and outreach activities to make exporters aware of program availability.
  8. Security/Safety – Issues involving control over the end use of a product or national security implications.

Though it made no recommendations, the report said the majority of the submissions from IGs governmentwide “identified inefficiencies, lack of clear program goals and strategies, and poor coordination and communication among various agencies involved in trade and competitiveness.
It seems clear that the communication architecture is reviewed for the purpose to increase efficiency. With over 1 million manufacturing companies and 288 000 export companies, the United States of America surely have their own challenges but they also have the know-how and the technologies to meet these challenges. During the 2008 election, Barack Obama’s website registered some 1.5 million accounts, supported more than 35,000 groups clumped by affinities and shared interests and allowed volunteers to organize 150,000 events over the course of the campaign. Therefore the United States government certainly has access to the technical capabilities and the know-how to support business relationships of 300 000 export companies located in 50 states and help manage relationships in hundreds of countries.

The Obama IT team realizations of 2008 has been an inspiration to work hard for the development of ExportPro.Org ; but beyond the technical and human resource capabilities, such innovative and efficient approach  requires openness from stakeholders and investment from export agencies.

Now that export and innovations are considered as strategic priorities for the US government, sooner than later the US Export Agencies as well as the small and Medium size enterprises will be able to streamline their operations with the support of the communication system and architecture of the 21rst century.

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