Federal Manager's Daily Report

There is substantial and growing support for major changes in the federal government including shrinking its size and revamping personnel policies, according to a report by the Volcker Alliance, a good-government group.

It said the percentage of the public favoring smaller government and very major reform increased from 17 to 43 percent over 1997-2016, while the percentage of Americans who favor bigger government and only some reform dropped from 43 to 20 percent in 2016.

“There is a significant appetite–a mandate, really–for significant government reform,” said a summary of the report. “Many Americans distrust the federal government as a whole but look favorably upon the departments, agencies, and employees who deliver the goods and services they value,” it added.

Key issues it cited include: “electoral reform to reduce the influence of money in elections; ethics reform to address conflicts of interest for elected officials; a concerted reduction in waste and inefficiency in government operations; a bipartisan national commission to overhaul government systems and workforce; and a stronger personnel system.”

On the last of those issues, it said that the government “desperately needs a strong personnel system led by an effective” OPM–an agency that it says has a reputation inside government as highly influential but “one of the most rigid and least talented.”

It suggested creating a bipartisan national commission with fast-track approval authority to “modernize the government’s antiquated systems, rebuild the workforce to deliver on critical missions, and even downsize the government-industrial complex.”  That would be more effective than imposing a hiring freeze, it argues, saying that “freezes, caps, and ceilings have never prevented a single government breakdown. They merely increase the odds that the government will fail again.”