Tag: Government

Notwithstanding domestic challenges of a divided government, federal government shutdown, and the debt ceiling, the U.S. continues to be engaged in a variety of national security issues. The global security environment is in a period of such flux and transition. What are the current Global Challenges, Threats and Opportunities from the U.S. perspective for national security policy issues?

At the global power level, an entire reordering is taking place, with the rise of state actors like China and India and the shift in strategic competition from the Atlantic to the Pacific. At the same time, non-state actors have emerged as major players in global security, while failed or failing zones have become epicenters of threat on multiple levels that range from civil war to humanitarian disasters.

These transformations are all the more challenging as they occur within the rapidly changing context of the 21st century revolutions in technology. Information Tech and Robotics, communications, energy use, and bio-technology are all emerging game changers, reshaping both the civilian and military worlds.  Access to nuclear technology has become more widespread, with more than 30 nations now holding stocks of highly enriched uranium or plutonium.

In short, the hallmark of security issues in the 21st century may not be merely change, but how the rate of change is accelerating—namely, at an exponential pace unparalleled in history. These new threats require new strategies and new thinking.

Leading experts recently discussed these issues and many others at Brookings in Brookings Executive Education’s annual Global Challenges, National Security seminar held on December 3-4, 2013.

For more on issues that were discussed this December:

Read: Saving Defense Dollars: From Base Realignment and Closure to Overhead Realignment and Closure 

“The administration and Congress should pursue a two-pronged effort—revitalizing the Base Realignment and Closure (“BRAC”) process while convening a similar, but new, Overhead Realignment and Closure Commission (“ORAC”) to make the Defense Department a less wasteful organization.”

Michael E. O’Hanlon, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy, Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence, and Kay Bailey Hutchison

Listen to Event Audio: U.S. Global Leadership in the Second Obama Administration: Policies and Realities

“But most importantly, when people are talking about the relative position of the United States, I think the general consensus among economists these days is that what you can certainly say about the United States is that it’s doing pretty well in a pretty bad world situation.”

– Robert Kagan, Senior Fellow, speaking at an event at Brookings on October 11 with Senior Fellow and Director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy Tamara Wittes, Soli Özel of Kadir Has University, Brookings President Strobe Talbott, Muharrem Yılmaz, president of the Turkish Industry and Business Association and Turkey Project Director and TUSIAD Senior Fellow Kemal Kirişci.

Watch: Defending the Nation at Network Speed

The Center for 21st Century Security and Intelligence at Brookings hosted General Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, for keynote remarks and a discussion of the military’s role in cyberspace and the threat that cyberattacks pose to the U.S.

Learn: These leading experts participated in BEE’s annual Global Challenges seminar:

Photo Credit: Department of Defense photo by Master Sgt. John Nimmo Sr., U.S. Air Force, Flikr

The Center for Effective Public Management (CEPM) is a newly established research entity housed under the Governance Studies Program at Brookings. The CEPM “will focus on identifying and solving political and governance challenges in 21st century America. This center’s forthcoming work will concentrate on reinvigorating the U.S. government – along with public and private sector leadership – to be more effective and capable. Working alongside a wide array of domestic policy experts and actors, the CEPM will explore current problems in the American political system and ways to improve the democratic process (Brookings).”

Elaine Kamarck

Elaine Kamarck is the Founding Director of the Center for Effective Public Management. Kamarck has spoken at recent Brookings Executive Education events on domestic political and governance challenges.

Kamarck and the Center are focusing the discussion on pragmatic solutions. The center launched with a keynote address from Former Vice President of the United States, Al Gore.

The full video of the center launch can be viewed here:

Elaine Kamarck is senior editor of FixGov. “Focused on new ideas to make government work, FixGov is a blog that identifies and aims to solve the nation’s most pressing political and governance challenges. The solutions offered here are sensible and realistic (Brookings).” Posts are authored by Fellows of the Brookings Institution. Read the latest academic-based insights about the debt ceiling, the shutdown, and tea party politics:

To Fix the Debt Ceiling, Executive Order not Obama’s Best Option
Philip A. Wallach | October 15, 2013

Shutdown Politics: Pressure On Boehner Not Just From the Tea Party
Molly Jackman | October 14, 2013

President Obama Should Issue an Executive Order to Raise the Debt Ceiling
Saul Jackman | October 14, 2013

A Grand Bargain for American Democracy
John Hudak and Thomas E. Mann | October 11, 2013

What’s in a Deal? Possible Solutions to Shutdown and Default Crises
Philip A. Wallach and William A. Galston | October 10, 2013


Brookings Executive Education (BEE) will continue to hold courses as scheduled during the government shutdown. The Insider’s Legs and Regs and Building Networks and Partnerships are two classes currently in session with half the participants originally enrolled in attendance. Federal employees who are furloughed are not allowed to attend class. 

October 1, 2013 marks the first time the U.S. government has been shutdown in 17 years. The House and the Senate failed to pass a bill on the budget by the end of the government’s fiscal year and a shutdown is the repercussion of their inaction. What does this mean?

The following is a repository of links that will provide insight into shutdown consequences:

  • Brookings Institution scholars provide up to the minute updates on shutdown impacts across the country. Read about it here >>
  • FederalTimes provides Q&A basics on what has happened, why it happened and what to expect next. Read about it here >>
  • Government Executive provides links to federal agencies’ contingency plans, including the percentage of employees furloughed. Read about it here >> 
  • NBC outlines the things you can and cannot do during a U.S. federal government shutdown. Read about it here >> 
  • CNN provides a searchable list for what is open and closed. Read about it here >>


photo: newspressnow.com

One of the most difficult things to figure out in government is that of jurisdiction. President Obama memorably stated in his 2011 State of the Union address that a salmon swimming in freshwater is handled by the Department of the Interior, while one in saltwater is handled by Commerce. While that line is certainly more memorable, he gave a much more striking example just before it – there are 12 different agencies that deal with exports. What that means is anyone trying to tackle an export-related problem has to align 12 different stakeholders. Efforts like these often end in failure and reinforce the idea that government can’t get anything done.

All hope is not lost, however, as Jackson Nickerson and Ron Sanders discuss in their new book. Government executives typically rely on inter-agency task forces to bring stakeholders together to solve complex problems. The issue with these task forces is that each individual agency has their own definition of the problem and their own take on how to solve it. In the initial task force meetings competing solutions get tossed around first, turf wars ensue, and progress grinds to a halt. The chance of a successful outcome is severely diminished at this point, and it can all be avoided with one simple step.

The key to success lies in coming to the table not with solutions but with ideas for root causes of the problem. If everyone formulates the problem together you eliminate that “us” vs. “them” mentality. All stakeholders now own the problem because they all took part in framing it, and once people own a problem they are much more willing to work together to come to a solution. That’s not to say that coming to that solution will be easy, but a major obstacle to success is removed by defining the problem together.

BEE Course Catalog 2013-2014 We are keenly aware that investing in executive development during a time of dramatic budget cuts, furloughs, and hiring and pay freezes might seem paradoxical. Yet the only real solution to doing more with less is to develop new ways of thinking and adopt new tools for leading.

Brookings Executive Education’s (BEE) new paradigm for executive success—Leading Thinking™—provides the mind-set and frameworks to lead organizations in this challenging environment.

The Brookings Executive Education 2013-2014 course catalog is now available. BEE is managed by Olin Business School in partnership with the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C.

New Courses at Brookings Executive Education:

Leading Through Influence
In this new, interactive course, learn how to influence people both within and outside the chain of command. Develop key skills of informal leadership: navigating politics, understanding power, and exercising influence.

MS-Leadership candidate and Executive Director, Mary Ellen Joyce

Insider’s Budgetary Process
This in-depth course on the federal budget process examines the methods that go into formulating both the president’s budget and the congressional budget and, ultimately, authorization and appropriations.

Insider's Budgetary Process

Flexibility and Decisiveness
In this new class, you will learn how to adapt and work effectively within dynamic change, to see possibilities that lead to breakthrough concepts, and to employ models of decision making appropriate to the situation at hand.

Flexibility and DecisivenessRegional Challenges, Threats and Opportunities: South and Central America
Latin America presents opportunities for government and businesses alike. It is a region with countries that are creating new identities and establishing strategic alliances with partners around the globe. In this new seminar, you will learn about the economic and political changes that represent threats and opportunities for the region’s northern neighbor.

View all BEE 2013/14 courses at-a-glance

Walking into The Founders Inn for the Annual Institute of the Training Officers Consortium we were greeted by a vibrant and enthusiastic group of government employees dedicated to making an impact in their organizations. One of the presentations we were fortunate to attend described how the mission of training in government has changed in the last six months.

Recent budget battles and sequestration have hit training budgets hard, but the need to motivate employees and do more with less is greater than ever. This breakout session on cost-effective training investment decisions offered key insights into how agency training officers plan to navigate this new normal. A set of Government Accountability Office mandates handed down in September 2012 has now codified the need to identify and prioritize mission critical training so that the most important training needs are addressed first.

The presenter recommended a multi-step process, and we will share a few of the highlights. In addition to identifying the most critical training needs in your organization, training professionals need to determine whether they should centralize training content to meet the needs of the entire agency, or decentralize content to meet the needs of various divisions. The latter enhances the ability to deliver a customized product to the right individuals, which will maximize return on investment.

Should agencies develop content in-house or outsource to professional organizations? The latter can often be more cost effective and gives training officers more flexibility in choosing the provider with the most expertise in whatever they deem mission critical.

How should the content be delivered – in the classroom, online, or both? With travel budgets severely reduced online training has become more practical unless a live content provider is able to come to you – something Brookings Executive Education is capable of doing with our new BEE with YOU offering.

Finally, agencies need ways to track the costs of training and measure the benefits. Benefit measurement is often difficult, but with resources like the Kirkpatrick model or the BEE Impact assessments you can rest assured knowing that limited budgets are having maximum impact.

These are trying times, but we saw first-hand that there is a committed group of people at the ready to tackle these tough issues.