As the new Chairman of the Alexandria Chamber, I couldn’t be more excited. Alexandria is the crown jewel of Virginia and a magnet for businesses of every shape and size. It’s also a fantastic place to live, work and raise a family. One of my first privileges as Chair was to witness the induction of the city’s new Mayor and Council. We owe our new Mayor and all the Council our thanks for their commitment to public service. The ceremony was a display of both tradition and innovation and highlighted the strengths we enjoy as well as the risks we face. But most importantly, it embodied the smooth transition of power that is the hallmark of our democracy at every level.
Transitions are a constant in government in America. Soon after the violent birth of our democracy which began right here, in Alexandria, we began more orderly, friendly transitions, especially the Presidency. And because our community is so connected to the operations of the federal government, it’s important we pay attention to and prepare for the Presidential transition that will be taking place in a little more than a year from today.
One of the things I follow closely, as my day job involves helping government improve its performance and efficiency, is how the Presidential transition may impact the management of the Executive Branch of the federal government.
One of the signs of a mature democracy is how many institutions are involved in the smooth transition of power. Here is a listing of a few them and what they are doing:
The National Academy of Public Administration’s Transition has convened a broad spectrum of experts and panels under the umbrella of its Transition 2016 project, called T16. The initiative is designed to advise the incoming 2016 Presidential Administration on effective management improvement initiatives; identifying and overcoming government management challenges; and identifying key Presidentially-appointed agency management positions.
The Partnership for Public Service recently launched its Ready to Govern project. The Partnership’s efforts are four pronged: (1) assisting the 2016 presidential candidates in navigating the transition process, (2) engaging Congress and promoting presidential transition reforms, (3) developing management recommendations for the next administration to address our government’s operational challenges, and (4) training new and seasoned political appointees to lead effectively in their new positions.
The Professional Services Council’s new Senior Vice President of Technology, Dave Wennergren, is marshalling the best ideas from the information technology industry on what needs to change to better implement and leverage information technology. And he’s inviting any and all recommendations, as you can read about here.
There are plenty of other initiatives going on to help with the 2017 transition of the federal government. The federal government’s so big and impactful; it’ll need all the help it can get. But what are we, as Alexandrians and business owners, doing to prepare? What can we do to influence the new government to adopt policies that will help our city’s businesses flourish? Those aren’t rhetorical questions . . . let me know what you think!
Robert Shea is the 2016 Chairman of the Board of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and a Principal in Grant Thornton’s Public Sector Practice, which is headquartered in Alexandria.