DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE
Implementing Reform at Commerce: The First Year
Laying the Groundwork
Shortly after President Bush issued his plan for management
reform, it was clear that achieving success at Commerce rested
on obtaining the active involvement of our senior management
team as early as possible. Although a strong framework of
career employees with responsibility for overseeing
administrative functions was already in place, we knew that the
sea change called for under the Presidents Management Agenda
could be brought about only by political appointees and career
staff and executives working together.
Our initial step was to convene a meeting of senior managers
from all of our bureaus. This was followed by one-on-one
meetings with the bureaus to highlight those areas requiring the
most directed focus - competitive sourcing, performance
management and budget integration, and strategic human capital
management. Accountability for implementing the management
agenda is being ensured by incorporating it into the
Departments Annual Performance Plans and performance plans for
all Senior Executive Service managers.
Our Biggest Challenge
Of the five initiatives, strategic human capital management has
been the most challenging. This area represents a growing
concern with potential to significantly impact the mission
activities of the Commerce Department. Like many other
agencies, it is an area in which we have significant
opportunities for improvement.
Our initial effort - compiling a first-ever workforce assessment
of our 37,000 employees - resulted in a comprehensive and
informative document. The next step - developing a workforce
restructuring plan - was a greater challenge for several
First, political leadership was not in place in all bureaus
until early this spring, which caused some delays in finalizing
plans in several of our largest bureaus. Also, comprehensive
and systematic workforce planning requires complex and diverse
skills, some of which had to be strengthened - and which will
require on-going attention and adaptation. To confront this
challenge, we convened a crosscutting team of Department staff
to develop a common approach to analyzing workforce needs,
planning recruitment and outreach efforts, and modifying human
resource policy and systems delivery.
In June, we issued a supplement to an interim workforce plan
that had been submitted earlier to the Office of Management and
Budget (OMB). The final product, prepared in consultation with
OMB and the Office of Personnel Management (OPM), is a stronger
and more cohesive blueprint for strategically identifying and
addressing our long-term workforce requirements.
Strategic management of human capital is an important and
complex activity. We have redirected the resources needed to
provide the very focused attention that it requires.
Internal collaboration is essential. These five initiatives are
linked and must be considered in a comprehensive manner. At
Commerce, these activities are coordinated between the Offices
of the Chief Financial Officer and Assistant Secretary for
Administration and the Chief Information Officer.
Supplementing in-house talent with external expertise as needed
to respond to specific challenges is critical. In our case, we
worked closely with OMB and OPM to finalize our workforce
restructuring plan. We also consulted with the National Academy
of Public Administration during this exercise.
It has been almost a year since the President first issued his
management agenda. We recognize that there is much more to be
accomplished over the next two-and-a-half years, and we are
confident that we are on the right track.