Monday, June 14, 2010

OpenGovRadio 6/15/10: "Checking for Culture-Change via MSPB Surveys"

Here's what we'll discuss on this weeks's OpenGovRadio show (Tues., June 15th, 2:00 pm ET):

"Checking for Culture-Change via MSPB Surveys"

Virtually everyone agrees that a "culture change" is necessary in order for President Obama's Open Government Intiative to make federal departments and agencies more "transparent, participatory, and collaborative."

So, now that it's been a year and a half, has there been any "culture change"?  (None?  A little?  A lot?)  How are we supposed to know?

The most obvious way to determine (i.e., measure) "culture change" in any type of organization is to simply ask the people in that organization about the culture inside that organization.  And then you come back, at some point in the future, and ask them the same questions again.  Compare the results and, if you know what to look for, you can see the "culture change" (or lack thereof).

I'm Stephen Buckley, your host on OpenGovRadio, and my guest for the June 15th show will be Dr. John Crum, Director of the Office of Policy and Evaluation at the U.S. Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB), an independent quasi-judicial agency established to protect federal employees from "prohibited personnel practices", such as firing an employee for blowing the whistle on government waste (or for suggesting a way to make their agency's operations more "transparent" to the public).

Dr. Crum's office in MSPB conduct surveys of the federal civil service to determine whether they are free from "prohibited personnel practices".  The largest MSPB study is the "Merit Principles Study" and involves a survey of federal employees that was last done in 2007.  The latest one is happening this month.

Although the studies by MSPB do not measure "culture change", per se, they do show hard data from surveys that asked individual federal employees about various aspects of the culture in their office and the larger organization.  For example, some of those questions ask for the employee's opinion as to whether he/she feels safe in challenging the status-quo by suggesting changes that could improve the organization's efficiency and effectiveness.

Don't want to wait 3 years for the next Merit Principles Survey (2013) to see if the OpenGov effort "changed the culture" of the federal bureaucracy?  MSPB is asking for your suggestions -- now -- about what to study in the meantime, so here's your chance to ask MSPB to look more closely at OpenGov "culture change".

In addition to listening to the show on your computer, you can add to the discussion with your comments and questions. You can do that in either (or all) of three ways:

A.  Post a Comment/Question on this Blog at least one hour before the show begins.  Scroll down to "green box" (below) and click on "Comment".  It must be concise, and focused on the Open Government Initiative (or else it will not be approved).  Commentors can choose to remain anonymous.

B.  Email a comment/question Confidentially to your host Stephen Buckley, who fully understands the risk of raising unwelcome questions within the government.  Mr. Buckley can then raise the question "on-air" without identifying you.

C.  Call-in "live" to (917) 388-4210 with your comment/question.  However --  The host will ONLY "go to the phones" AFTER all the posted Comments (see green box, below) have been addressed.  Callers are welcome to add/ask a "follow-up" to those posted Comments.

Handy Links to "Open Government":

1.  President's Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government (1/21/09)

2.  White House's Open Government Directive (12/8/09)

3.  OMB's "Initial Assessment of OpenGov Plans" of Federal Agencies

4.  OMB's "OpenGov Dashboard" for tracking Compliance by Federal Agencies

5.  GovLoop's Chart of the OpenGov Plans

6.  Transparent Leadership by Roger Schwarz (Government Executive magazine, 4/7/10)
"When you are transparent, you create better results and relationships because others understand your thinking. People always are trying to find the meaning of actions, especially leaders' behaviors. When you fail to be transparent, you increase the chance that others will come up with their own theories about your intentions and motives - theories that often will differ from yours.

7.  MSPB home page

8.  MSPB Open Government Plan

9.  “The Power of Federal Employee Engagement” - MSPB report (Sept. 2008)

10.  "Managing for Engagement – Communication, Connection, and Courage” - MSPB report (Aug. 2009)

11.  The MSPB Studies Listserv (opt-in/opt-out email-list about MSPB studies)

12.  Press Release (6/14/10) on new MSPB report:
"MSPB’s reexamination of prohibited personnel practices will give particular attention to whistleblower retaliation. Upcoming studies will investigate what the law requires an employee to be considered a whistleblower, an examination of the whistleblower process, barriers to reporting wrongdoing, and a review of recent cases brought to MSPB to evaluate how whistleblowers fare in the adjudication of their complaints."

13.  Earlier this year, the General Services Administration (GSA) asked the public to suggest (and vote on) ideas for making it more effective and efficient."  The suggestion receiving the Most Votes was "Internal Transparency: Make It SAFE for Govt. Workers to Speak".  (That includes safe whistleblowing about waste, fraud and abuse.)

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