My Two Cents

Fiscal stimulus managers?

Chris Farrell Mar 26, 2009

The quality of management matters. One of the disturbing aspects of the Iraqi rebuilding projects was incompetent management. Far too many of the people in charge got the job because they were party members in good standing and for their ideological fervor. They weren’t chosen because they know how to run large organizations overseeing multiple suppliers building schools, roads, electric grids and the like. The results were–and remain–a disgrace.

There is no evidence that the Obama Administration is seeking to stack the fiscal stimulus managers with political loyalists. From what I can see they’re looking for organizational and technical competence.

Here’s the rub: Are there enough people around to handle this kind of enormous spending package? I’ve heard that the Administration is bringing high level former government managers out of retirement. They have the needed knowledge and skills. Congress is also working on voiding or temporarily suspending the law that prohibits retirees from drawing on their federal pension at the same time that their earning a federal paycheck. Hopefully, the law is changed so that experienced technocrats can join the effort.

Anyway, the devil is always in the details. Organization and talent matter a lot with this much money and effort flowing from the federal government to the states.

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