A Lack of Follow Through


Monday July 9th, 2012   •   Posted by Craig Eyermann at 8:46am PST   •  

One of the most important qualities of leadership can be simply described as “follow through.” It’s not enough to offer grand visions, deliver inspirational speeches or concoct elaborate plans — an effective leader also needs to do the mundane work of making sure that those they task with doing the work associated with their ambitions get the job done. That means a leader needs to do at least two key things:

  1. Pay attention to how things are going.
  2. Make changes to ensure their goals are achieved if things don’t go as expected.

Today’s example of how a lack of follow through on the part of a leader leads to extremely poor results in achieving their stated goals comes from the Congressional Research Service, which finds that the Obama administration is failing to achieve its stated goal of increasing accountability and reducing wasteful spending in government agencies because of ineffective leadership. FederalNewsRadio’s Jolie Lee reports:

report by the Congressional Research Service finds agencies are not listing high-priority goals and regularly updating performance information online as directed by a June 2011 executive order.

The order is part of the administration’s broader initiative to increase accountability and cut wasteful government spending.

President Obama had directed agencies to put in place “robust” performance metrics to be “frequently” analyzed by agency leaders. Although some performance information is posted on Performance.gov — such as financial management and acquisition—it’s not clear if the performance goals are updated regularly, according to the CRS report requested by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

Prior to August 2011, Performance.gov was only available to executive branch personnel. Since it went public, the website has not provided detailed information about agencies’ high-priority performance goals, according to CRS.

The failure of effective leadership for reducing the federal government’s wasteful spending in this case goes straight to the top:

Last summer, President Obama named Vice President Joe Biden to oversee how agencies reduce improper payments and overspending.

“I know Joe’s the right man to lead it because nobody messes with Joe,” the President said in a video message in June 2011.

The executive order stated Biden would convene regular meetings with Cabinet members. To date, the Vice President has held two meetings since the President issued the order.

And thus, with such a lack of effective follow through on the part of both the Vice President and also the President, whose inaction clearly communicated to federal government administrators that the stated goal of reducing wasteful spending was a very low priority, the failure to achieve even a token reduction in the government’s debt and deficit during the past year was assured.




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