Employee Input in Agency Reform Plans

Office of Management and Budget in the Executive Office of the President of the United States (seal)
Seal of the Office of Management and Budget

As many of you know, on March 13 the President issued an Executive Order directing the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to submit a comprehensive plan for reorganizing Executive Branch departments and agencies. In an April 12 memorandum to agency heads, OMB directed agencies to, among other things, submit a “high level draft” of agency reform plans to OMB by June 30.

Food and Drug Administration (FDA) logoI am very concerned about the impact these reform plans will have on the employees we represent if implemented. At the same time, I do not want to sit by and let HHS and FDA management be the sole source of “reform” proposals. Frontline employees regularly see inefficiencies and penny-wise but pound foolish actions on the part of HHS and FDA. As those responsible for delivering FDA’s mission on the ground for the American consumer, and who interacts with the public on behalf of FDA, employees are the best source of ideas for improvements. I want to engage you in gathering and presenting recommendations to be included in HHS/FDA reform plans that will be submitted to OMB.

Between now and June 15, please provide me with your suggestions to improve the day-to-day functions and work here at FDA. Potential areas for recommendations include, but are not limited to:

  • Reducing layers of management or eliminating positions that don’t add value
  • Eliminating or modifying inefficient, duplicative, and/or unnecessary work processes
  • Cost-savings through increased telework that reduce rent over the long-term, reduced contracting, or transferring functions to frontline employees from higher level positions
  • Ideas for improving customer service to the American public
  • Ideas for improving inter-office/center, inter-agency, and cross-agency coordination and information sharing among employees, especially in ways that lead to increased morale and employee performance

Other areas where improvement recommendations could be made include:

  • Lack of support staff resulting in paying higher-graded employees to perform lower-graded work
  • Unnecessary report writing or “box” checking that get in the way of employees doing their jobs
  • Lack of equipment, constantly breaking equipment, or such dated equipment that leads to down time or unnecessary work delays
  • Unnecessary management/executive travel
  • Lost productivity due to poor facilities
  • Activities that save money in the short term but cost the agency much more in the long run

When providing input, please be as specific as possible. If you can provide data or cost-savings estimates to back up your suggestions, all the better.

In mid-June, NTEU will ask me and other chapter presidents to submit the top three to five recommendations in the above areas to NTEU’s National Office. The NTEU staff will turn chapter responses into formal reports that NTEU National President Tony Reardon will provide to the HHS and FDA heads. NTEU will also compile all the agency-specific reports into a master document that they will share with us, the media, and Congress.

This is NTEU CountryOf course, there are no guarantees that our recommendations will find their way into actual HHS/FDA reform plans, but we do not want to only be on the receiving end of this presidential initiative. If the administration and FDA ignore us, they ignore us. But they cannot say they did not hear from us. At a minimum, I want to reinforce our message to the administration, Congress, and the public that when it comes to meeting the public’s expectations for their government, frontline federal employees have much to offer.

I know this is a short turnaround time for this request, but time is of the essence. I also know there are a lot of ideas out there because I have heard many of them. I can’t count the number of conversations I have had with members and nonmembers with the theme, “why does FDA do this, when we could do it better this way?”

Thank you for all you do for the American consumer. I look forward to hearing what you have to say.