The Customer is Always Right
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The Customer is Always Right

Co-hosts Loren DeJonge Schulman and Rachel Klein-Kircher speak with two experts about how agencies are working to improve their performance and transform their customer experience efforts as outlined in the President’s Management Agenda—the Biden administration’s overarching vision for building a more effective federal government. Our guests include Robin Carnahan, the current administrator of the General Services Administration, and Robert Shea, a national managing principal of public policy at Grant Thornton Public Sector and a former public servant. Carnahan and Shea unpack how and why the President’s Management Agenda is created, what is unique about the current administration’s priorities, and why every interaction that an individual has with the government—from accessing benefits to securing natural disaster aid—is an opportunity to build public trust and prove that government works.  

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Loren DeJonge Schulman: From the Partnership for Public Service, this is Profiles in Public Service—a podcast that shares the stories of the public servants who work on our behalf every day to make our country safer, healthier and more prosperous.  

We talk to career public servants, emerging leaders, journalists and more to better understand what it means to be a public servant… the incredible variety of careers possible in government… and how public service impacts all our lives. I’m Loren DeJonge Schulman,  

Rachel Klein-Kircher: 

And I’m Rachel Klein-Kircher. Today’s episode expands upon the topic of an executive order mentioned in our last episode about improving customer experience and service delivery for the American public. We will discuss federal efforts to transform customer service through the President’s Management Agenda, a vision for building a more effective federal government that serves all and helps America meet its most pressing challenges.  

Loren DeJonge Schulman: 

We will hear from two incredible guests: Robin Carnahan who is currently the administrator of the General Services Administration, and Robert Shea from the accounting firm and government consultant, Grant Thornton Public Sector. We encourage you to check out their bios in our show notes to learn more about their accomplishments in public service. 

Rachel Klein-Kircher: 

In her current role, Robin focuses on empowering GSA’s career professionals and building on their efforts to deliver the best value in real estate, acquisition and technology services to the government and to the American public. 

Loren DeJonge Schulman: 

I had the pleasure of facilitating a conversation with Robin as part of a recent webinar series on the President’s Management Agenda hosted by the Partnership in collaboration with the accounting firm, Grant Thornton Public Sector.  

Attendees included public service leaders working on human capital management, IT, the customer experience and more. 

Rachel Klein-Kircher: 

We’ll turn now to this great conversation between Loren and Administrator Carnahan before being joined by our second guest, Robert Shea. Robert will help us further unpack the goals of the President’s Management Agenda and discuss what leaders and agencies are doing to meet public needs and create more equitable federal services. 

Transition Music 

Loren DeJonge Schulman: Administrator Carnahan. Thank you so much for coming today. We’re really excited to have you. You sit on the President’s Management Council and were a key contributor to the development of the PMA vision that was released at the end of last year. 

So would love to hear from you what in your view makes this PMA, which is a little different from past ones, so important and what are some of the key ingredients that will take us on a path to make the federal government more equitable, more effective and more accountable? Over to you. 

Robin Carnahan: Well, thanks very much. And I just want first to just say I think public service is a noble calling that there’s really no better place to make an impact and improve people’s lives. So let me just say on the President’s Management Agenda there are kind of two things going on at the same time. There’s the management agenda, but there’s also been this customer service EO that was signed at the beginning of, I guess, at the end of last year. 

I think that that is such an important thing to also kind of acknowledge because they work really closely together. A lot of agencies all already think about customer service, but if you think about government generally, it’s kind of just a customer service business in many ways. 

That’s what we do. If something happens in somebody’s life, they have to interact with the government in some way. The government’s job is to deliver whatever that thing is, that need. And some are doing better than others. There’s a great story that I have never forgotten about the VA. Sort of understanding its customers and it’s, you know, years ago I heard this about a homeless veteran. His name was Dominic, and the VA went about trying to understand how they could help him enroll better. And they had some user researchers followed him around and went to the public library with him, where he was on the computer at the public library trying to figure out what the words meant on dozens of screens and mazes of like error messages that came through. 

And it was just a terrible experience for him, and he described it in combat terms. He said, you know, it’s like when we were on a mission and somebody was leaving us around and over, around a corner and over a meadow, and then we just got to a back door that was blocked with spikes and IEDs. So, I mean, that’s how he described the experience of trying to apply for a benefit as a veteran. Which is horrifying, right? And, and so, you know, a small team at the VA tried to figure out how to do better by Dominic to design something that was good for veterans that was easy to use. And they did. And they went back to him, and they were thrilled to see that it was, you know, for that veteran, a straightforward, easy to use process. 

So, they were able to turn like a terrible process into something that honored the, you know, sacrifice and the time that folks who serve their country deserve. So, every agency has a chance to do that, and GSA is all about that. The President’s Management Agenda is all about that. And so let me, let me just say that too often, the way the government delivers for folks is not with Dominic or the customer in mind, it’s more kind of just the legacy of, you know, how government, what was organized and what silos are inside the organization. 

And that’s how we expect people to interact because we know how it works, but the PMA wants to change that they want to like get government to focus on customers, focus on delivery, make sure it’s a seamless and simple and secure experience for people that’s on par with what they do in their private lives. 

Right? Like that is the goal. You know, and I, to me, I think like every interaction with government is an opportunity to prove government works, to prove democracy works. Whether that’s your veteran getting benefits from a small business owner, getting access to financing or somebody who’s going through a, you know, lived through a disaster and needs to deal with getting, insurance and benefits out of FEMA and other organizations. 

So anyway, there are lots of times we interact with the government. Sometimes they’re major life events. Sometimes they’re simple things. But each of those is an opportunity for us to do better.  

Loren DeJonge Schulman: I loved how you characterize that. At the Partnership, we often talk about how it, you know, it says right there in the text government for the people, but too often, government is designed kind of for government or kind of for just like, this is the way that we did it before and changing that mindset. So, it starts with the Dominics of the world as opposed to, you know, whatever original software system I had, or the order of the form is such an important reset. Fortunately, since you championed that so beautifully, you are one of the priority area leads for the pillar two of the President’s Management Agenda, which covers delivering excellent, equitable and secure federal services and customer experience. I love the acronym for this. You are a PAL. Tell us a little bit more about the role that you want to play in that space and why is it a priority for you and what kind of outcomes do you hope to see from that?  

Robin Carnahan: Yeah. So yes, I am a PAL government’s full of acronyms. This is actually a pretty good one. So there are three priority areas for the management agenda. The first is empowering its federal workforce. Like everything has to start with that. 

 I think all of us who are managing the government get that. We also get that everybody’s living through this moment where many people are kind of rethinking how they want to spend their time, how they want to work, what they want to do with their lives. Which means both in the private sector and the public sector, we have got to be thoughtful about attracting, retaining, growing talent and providing the kind of flexibility and empowerment, to be able to just deliver great service across the board. 

So that’s, that’s pillar number one, the third filler I’ll just may touch on and then I’ll come back to number two. The third one is managing the business of government. Like how do we leverage historic investments, right? In infrastructure, public infrastructure in particular, to use those funds in ways are equitable and sustainable and set us up for a more resilient future. 

 But the second pillar, as you mentioned, is super exciting for me, ’cause I’m all about delivery. And so I’m a co-lead of that with colleagues at the VA of department of agriculture and goal is as you said, just excellent, equitable, secure federal services for customers, right? 

It’s the core really of what the PMA is all about. And the goal for us is really just to have more success stories like that Dominic story, right? How do we get agencies focused on customers? What we’re doing is sort of narrowing down what they call high impact service providers. 

And so, all of these agencies have some interaction generally with the public, but there are some that are particularly important at big life moments. And whether you’re having a child, whether you’re traveling abroad for the first time you’re enrolling in a healthcare program, you’re getting veterans benefits. 

You’re dealing with a disaster the idea is for those, the interaction between the person, the human and government tends to be actually kind of similar, right? You have to verify somebody’s identity. They have to be able to log into something in a secure way. You have. Get an application done. You need to have some forms that are filled out you. 

And so, the idea here, this is sort of revolutionary in the government, but it shouldn’t be is that we shouldn’t have to recreate the wheel at every agency and force our customers to put in the same information over and over again, when, when we could actually just share it. Right? And so, GSA has some services that help with bad things like which is a fantastic and secure way for people to be able to sign into government services. But we have the US web design standards that literally about a billion people have used in page views, it’s that popular. And so we don’t have to reinvent the wheel on all of this stuff. And so that’s, that’s sort of the exciting thing for me. 

Loren DeJonge Schulman: There’s, there’s so much potential in all of that, the ability to have that kind of seamless transition from one service or agency to the other. You have a mantra that I love, and I steal regularly, and I’ll just confess right here, that is demos not memos. And I, love that, that tangible element of this. 

 But, you know, I’ll be honest. I was in government for 10 years. It’s tough to make that kind of culture change in a business that thrives on memos. I’m really good at memos. I struggle in my head to explain, like, how do we change this to a demo, as you say, where have you found success in incentivizing this approach and what takeaways can you share with this incredible audience of customer experience and human capital and IT professionals? 

Robin Carnahan: Yeah. Demos, not memos. Basically, what I mean by that is when people watched Dominic struggle through that experience of signing up, they felt bad. Like they felt horrible. They could see that they were failing in their mission to deliver for that customer. And so when you’re able to put a spotlight on your user, when you’re able to then show that experience was shown to the VA secretary. It wasn’t until the secretary and people up the chain saw what their customer went through, trying to do what their mission was, that it got everybody’s attention.  

So, here’s what I would suggest is that try to sign up for something on your website or get your family member to go through that experience. Somebody who doesn’t know as much about it as you do. And think about that experience, think about how it could be better. Think about, think about, you know, just the, the person who’s struggling at a moment in life, where they have to reach out for help from the government and how they’re able to read and comprehend and go through these processes. And you’re going to, my guess is you’re going to be shocked and you’re going to find an opportunity to try to do better. I will say that, you know, for me, a good baseline is that recent COVID site and I don’t know how many of y’all signed up for that. 

I signed up for it. But what I really love is when that whole thing came out my 88-year-old mother, I said, mom, you’ve got to go sign up for your COVID test. And, and she was like, oh, can’t you sign up for me? And I said, no, no, no. I want you to go. 

You know, here’s the link, go sign up. She calls me back literally two minutes later and says, wow, that was so easy. It was so well designed. It took me less than a minute and then she said, “are you going to make all the government websites work that well?” So, I laughed but that should be our standard. Right? And the postal service should get great credit for that. They were able to stand up something that was user friendly at a really short period of time. But none of that happened by accident, right? It happened because number one, they were laser focused on their user experience. They wanted to make it as lightweight and friendly and easy as possible. 

And so they did testing with real people to make sure that that was the case. And the second thing they did was they used common reusable components that the government already had approved for security and all sorts of things. So, for example, if you need to be able to scale to potentially hundreds of millions of users in an hour, you don’t have to build that from scratch can help you stand that up pretty quickly. And there are other reusable components like this. I’m not a technical person by training I think of all of these component pieces as like Lego blocks, right. That can be different shapes and sizes, but they have a different function. 

And they’re connected by that common adapter. In the tech world. It’s the equivalent of an API, an application program interface and that’s sort of the magic of technology today is that you can put together modular pieces of things to create systems that do things that you needed to do. But you don’t have to create every Lego block from scratch. 

There are a whole bunch of these exist and a whole bunch of those are GSA. 

Loren DeJonge Schulman: GSA is full of those Lego blocks full of these modular tools and success stories and people, to some degree who can help build some of these successes that we see here. So, how can GSA help federal agencies get more wins like that by adopting a more human-centered approach and using these incredible services you have. And in other words, how do you think agencies might advance their PMA efforts using GSAs tools and shared services?  

Robin Carnahan: Well, thank you for that question. And we can do a couple of things. Number one, we have a lot of trained technologists that you can bring in to help your team. 

One of the hard things is if you don’t have folks on your team who know how to build these systems in modern ways or procure, that’s the other important thing, put your procurement together to get what you want. You’re going to get the same old thing. Right? And so we’ve got technologists who are also procurement experts. 

Some are engineers, some are designers. We’ve got all of that skill set that can help put together a successful RFP and procurement, and also can manage the deliverable to make sure you’re getting what you paid for, which also doesn’t always happen. So that’s number one, we’ve got teams that can help the other is we’ve got tools, right? 

That you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. I’ve mentioned It’s already used by more than 40 million people to log onto government websites without having to juggle a bunch of different passwords and it meets all the security standards. as I mentioned, is a thing that, you know, can help you just scale up these things really quickly. 

So the last thing I would mention is the Tech Modernization Fund. It is a pool of money; we’ve got a billion dollars in the American Rescue Plan that had been set up prior to that. And the focus is on two primary things right now, one is cybersecurity investments and the other is user facing digital services. So, we’re planning to invest another, at least, a hundred million dollars in projects focused on improving user experience. So, if you’re ready to tackle some of these issues on modernization, we’ve given money to big agencies in small and invested in these projects and would love to have, y’all be part. 

Loren DeJonge Schulman: Well, thank you so much for this great conversation. That was a wonderful closing message of, we don’t have to go it alone. There’s partners who are going through the same conversations. We’ve got a lot of resources, both officially at the GSA and elsewhere, but also just all these incredible peers in this network that we’re building here at the Partnership. 

Rachel Klein-Kircher: So Loren, I think what I appreciated the most about your conversation with Administrator Carnahan is that between the two of you, you broke down this concept of the President’s Management Agenda and you really made it something clear that we could all understand. So I’m really excited for you to hear this next piece: my conversation with Robert, it was, it was just a really fun and good conversation. 

Loren DeJonge Schulman: Awesome. Robert is an amazing partner of the Partnership because he is as deeply nerdy and geeky about these issues as we are. And so fully believes in these missions that we’re talking about. Like he, he gets excited about it in a way that is just fun to engage on. So, I’m so happy you’re able to bring him in. 

Rachel Klein-Kircher: So, Robert, I always find it an interesting challenge to explain my job over the decades to friends and family that don’t work with the federal government or have any dealings. They have their own assumptions. So, if you could share for our audience, some who are very steeped in all things federal government, and some who are considering a career with the federal government and really are, you know, not knowing as much as you do, tell us what in your current role you do at Grant Thornton Public Sector as a national managing principle for public policy. 

Robert Shea: Rachel, it’s so funny. Before I get to that, I have to tell you the story. My dad was visiting me when I worked in the White House, I was working at the Office of Management and Budget at the time, and he walked into the office and said, “I’ll give anybody in here a hundred dollars if they can tell me what in the hell OBM does.” So.  

Rachel Klein-Kircher: [Laughing] Yeah! So you understand  

Robert Shea: I absolutely. Do my children don’t know what I do. My wife doesn’t know what I do, but, but  

Rachel Klein-Kircher: Yeah. 

Robert Shea: At Grant Thornton I wear a number of hats, one of which is the head of public policy so I’m the liaison to Congress and regulatory agencies for our U.S. audit tax and advisory firm. But I also serve government clients. I help them improve their performance management, evidence-based policy making and strategic planning practices. And I do that at the federal, state, and local level. Keeps me pretty busy. 

Rachel Klein-Kircher: And you mentioned, OMB, I’ll get it correct: Office of Management and Budget. So how does your previous work in government help you in your current role and as you work with government leaders? 

Robert Shea: Yeah, I was a political appointee during my government career, both in the house Senate and, and at OMB. And at the end of the administration had to figure out what to do for a living. And I chose government consulting because to me it felt like doing what I did in government but for a private sector entity. 

And I landed at Grant Thornton. It’s a medium-sized firm that has a significant government consulting practice. And OMB, is sort of at the fulcrum of efforts to improve the management and performance of executive branch agencies. And so it really helped me understand what policies are driving agency behavior, what the intent behind those were. And so hopefully that translates to better insights and service to governments who are trying to meet the requirements of those initiatives and translate them into better performance and efficiency.  

Rachel Klein-Kircher: Yeah, absolutely and I think it ties very nicely to, you know, the webinar snapshot that our listeners have just heard from Administrator Carnahan and talking about the President’s Management Agenda. And you in your role at Grant Thornton have been partnering with us Partnership for Public Service on this, the PMA and could you share a little more background about how our two organizations are working together around the President’s Management Agenda? 

Robert Shea: Sure. I’ve been a fan of the Partnership since its inception Grant thornton’s also been partnered with the Partnership for many years and we try to figure out a project that we can work on together each year that contributes to moving the ball down the field in management improvement efforts. We’ve done it around performance management for instance, but since a new administration was going to be coming out with its President’s Management Agenda, we thought this was a good area to focus on. 

What worked in past President’s Management Agendas? What’s the makeup of this current President’s Management Agenda? And going forward, what are some practices agencies can leverage to take advantage of the priorities in the President’s Management Agenda to most efficiently accomplish PMA objectives and contribute to their accomplishment of their mission. 

So we’ve had three great sessions and are doing some additional interviews to compliment what we heard in our sessions with the agencies, so that we can issue a capstone report that hopefully contributes to the conversation about what’s working in President’s Management Agendas and what agencies can do to take advantage of this, of the opportunities they provide. 

Rachel Klein-Kircher: One of the things I really appreciated listening to administrator Carnahan is, is how she distilled it into a very graspable, like dinner table sentence, where she said, you know, thinking with the PMA in mind, every interaction with the government is an opportunity to prove that government works. And on your FedHeads podcast, it might have been back in February, you had talked about the PMA or restoring trust in government and if you can’t transform the experiences that people are happening, you know, that is an issue. And you also advised that this won’t be overnight. So, thinking about, you know, this concept, what was your biggest takeaway from the Administrator’s comments? 

Robert Shea: Well first of all, simply stating that fact trying to inculcate that into the government culture again, to restore it, I guess, is really important. Trust in government has been on the decline for decades. It’s at its lowest point ever. And though we can’t really distinguish a lot of the discord going on in the country today from the government’s day to day performance, that day to day performance can contribute to reversing the decline in trust in government. So the administrators point, every interaction is an opportunity to reverse that trend, is really, really important. But it’s really got to translate into the sense of purpose folks on the front lines of delivering those services have when they come to work every day. They’ve got to understand that people often come to government, when they’re at their lowest point. And if they’re met with frustration, it’s going to contribute to this sort of lack of trust. You know, it’s always been a laugh line, government efficiency, but we can change that, there’s no reason that needs to be true. 

And we can also remind people the enormous contributions, the enormous high performance that that Americans receive, whether it be from the Postal Service, Social Security Administration, the IRS, though, there are plenty of stories about how, how those organizations have failed, but the enormous workload they face, the more than any other organization in the world. Their ability to serve such enormous populations is something to be celebrated. The pandemic is a great opportunity to reflect on just how dependent we are on the government and how it can meet the moment when we really need it to.  

Rachel Klein-Kircher: It’s so interesting. You’re pointing out, you know, people coming to the government at their lowest points. I hadn’t really thought about this in terms of, you know, the reaction you get when you say to somebody, civil servants, well, what about the national park service? Oh, I love them. Right? Like, ‘that’s a very happy connotation. 

You know, you’re going to the Grand Canyon, you’re going to Grand Tetons. So, I really appreciate you pointing this out, right? Like those who are so mission driven and they’re working to serve the public in some really critical, challenging, tough scenarios for the actual customers. 

Robert Shea: Yeah. Mentioning the park service is a really great way to illustrate this point. There’s an organization where you can feel the culture almost every time you interact with someone who works for the park service and they do touch lots and lots of Americans, but not at a point of need as much as a point of vacation. The folks who are suffering from a disaster, a disease or some financial crisis.  

Rachel Klein-Kircher: Mm-hmm 

Robert Shea: Those, those are ones where we need to bring some of that park service ethic to dealing with the customer. Empathize where they are in their lives, understand that that not everybody has the same level of sophistication when accessing government service, not everyone has the same tools available to them to access those resources. We need to meet those people where they are because often those are exactly the types of people those programs are designed to serve the most. 

Rachel Klein-Kircher: So that brings me perfectly to my next question then. What do you think are the most important things that need to happen for the goals and the top priorities of the President’s Management Agenda to be accomplished? And what is Grant Thornton doing to support that work? 

Robert Shea: Well, the number one thing I would say is that the goals need to be clear. How we’re going to measure performance going forward needs to be clear. The second is, people need to be held accountable. And so I want to see transparent reporting of progress, be it positive or negative, so that people’s feet are held to the fire in accomplishing these important objectives. 

 But I would say the number one ingredient that distinguishes success from failure is leadership focus. One of the distinguishing characteristics of this President’s Agenda from others, you might think it’s silly, but every member of the President’s Management Council who contributed to the design of the president’s management has signed it. So they’ve committed to the goals of the agenda. And, you know, if, if they keep their word that this is going to remain a priority for their organizations, then those charged with implementing it, those who have to contribute to the accomplishment of the PMA objectives, will take it more seriously. 

Rachel Klein-Kircher: And is this unprecedented? 

Robert Shea: It is unprecedented for my knowledge. Back in my day, sound like an old man. 

Rachel Klein-Kircher: I’m with you.  

Robert Shea: The President’s Management Council contributed significantly to the design of the PMA, but I don’t think we had this sort of ceremonial device whereby the deputies, the president management council membership signed the actual document. It is unprecedented and a very nice touch. 

To your question about, how is, Grant Thornton contributing? We wait with bated breath for the release of not only the PMA, but the quarterly updates or any blog post relative to it and we share it broadly. I’ve got a podcast called FedHeads, and we try to feature a lot of materials related to the President’s Management Agenda. In organizations with whom we partner like the Partnership, we focus a lot of our thought leadership activities on developments around the President’s Management Agenda. The most important thing we do is serve our clients. We try to help agencies craft solutions that can accelerate the accomplishment of the President’s Management Agenda goals. 

We think they should take it seriously and. We really do pitch to agencies that we have capabilities that can help you accomplish these goals. And we think it’s really important that you invest in ways that help achieve these important management performance improvement goals.  

Rachel Klein-Kircher: And you love it is what I’m gathering. 

Robert Shea: Well, the people make fun of me about the President’s Management Agenda. And I do think the fact that it’s been sustained over successive presidential administrations is a, is a really important thing, institutionalizing it. And I do think it is a organizing principle. It’s something around which we can marshal resources to focus on really, really important challenges. 

The federal workforce has not been a priority as much of a priority it should be. So the fact that this PMA focuses on restoring the workforce, but also addressing some long- standing challenges, like hiring, really important. We’ve talked a lot about customer experience, much of which is focused on addressing inequities. And the pandemic in particular has put a spotlight on how poorly designed a lot of our programs are to reach traditionally underserved communities, those most intended to benefit from a lot of these programs. And so, the fact that customer service and customer experience initiatives are trying to remedy that I think is really, really important. 

And then, the third pillar of the agenda is focused on some more traditional management challenges around finance and acquisition. So, I’m delighted those aren’t being ignored. 

Rachel Klein-Kircher: And for listeners who are, you know, not as steeped into all of this government wonkiness, as we fondly, like to say, to have this PMA focused internally on the workforce, internally on the structures and the management and externally on the customers, is this unusual or is this typically how a PMA would be structured? 

Robert Shea: The, the pillars of the agenda are not unprecedented. What distinguishes this PMA from others is its focus. So, it’s got three pretty specific areas on which it landed to, make sure that these are the priorities. Doesn’t mean other things aren’t important,  

 Mm-hmm But it’s important to focus. And so the fact that they landed on three, I think will help the government just be more efficient in where it’s investing its time, effort, and money to improve in these areas.  

Rachel Klein-Kircher: So Robert with the nice clarity of the PMA this time around given your vast experience over various administrations, you know, this is a massive 2-million-person organization. And so for an organized set of priorities to be created, this really sounds like such a logistical technical challenge. 

How does something coherent get created, or to, what would you attribute the nice crystallization this time around and the clear focus of how that came about? 

Robert Shea: So I was involved in the development of the President’s Management Agenda during the George W. Bush administration. I was involved in the campaign, in articulating the president’s management improvement priorities. So it was worth mentioning that this was a feature of a presidential campaign. A lot of what the president said at the time derived from work the government accountability office and Congress had done to articulate the major management challenges of the executive branch. And they fell neatly into five categories: finance, acquisition, IT, personnel, and performance management. So the oversight infrastructure of the executive branch sort of pointed the administration in that direction. It’s not been as clean in the intervening a couple of decades. 

Nonetheless, there were some factors that pointed to the need to focus. The workforce was sort of demoralized at the time this administration came into power. Evidence of inequity in the delivery of government benefits and services arose. And so that suggested a customer experience pillar. And then what to do with the rest? I think was also a factor, but to, to its credit, the administration solicited input from a wide audience, sifted through that, and in collaboration with the President’s Management Council arrived at what we have today. 

And it takes some time herding cats doesn’t really capture what, what it’s like to get that disparate, diverse group of individuals to come to agreement on something like this. So it took some time, the administration was deliberate, deliberative and thoughtful about how it did it. And so, you know, like I say, I waited with bated breath, sure other others had the same sort of anticipation, but, but was delighted to see what came out last year.  

Rachel Klein-Kircher: That’s fantastic. On a final note, I would love for our listeners to know how to find your FedHeads podcast. 

Robert Shea: So You can find FedHeads on any site at which you find podcasts! 

Rachel Klein-Kircher: Robert we appreciate so much all of the work that you’re doing to help strengthen government at all levels. And for taking the time to talk with us today about the President’s Management Agenda and all things government that we all love. 

So thank you so much. 

Robert Shea: Thanks. Rachel. On behalf of Grant Thornton and myself, we are so proud to partner with the Partnership on this and many other things and look forward to it long on the future. And I can’t wait to have you on FedHeads.  

Rachel Klein-Kircher: We would love it. 

Loren DeJonge Schulman: Both of these conversations. And so many of, with ones that we have, take me back to the Michael Lewis book, The Fifth Risk, our former podcast guest Michael Lewis,  

Rachel Klein-Kircher: Yeah.  

Loren DeJonge Schulman: Where he talks about government is at the end of the day a manager of catastrophic risk for the CA country. And for individuals that risk that no one else is going to take on or respond to or absorb the cost of, or do anything about. 

And. If government is going to be successful at that, they can’t be an insular conversation amongst bureaucrats in Washington, which is not what it is. It’s got to be an organization that sees itself first and foremost as deeply engaged with the public in both their opportunities, their struggles, their needs, whatever events are happening to them and so much more. 

And to me, that’s what what’s really exciting about this PMA, this President’s Management Agenda that it recognizes the need for government to be oriented in that way. That it can’t just be a policy making, memo writing organization. It is that the demos, not memos orientation, that Robin likes to talk about that we’ve got to do stuff and be seen as a place that does things for the public. 

And like, to me, that’s one of those things that most people don’t think of government in that way. They think of government as being a bunch of fancy marble buildings as handing around memos and so on. It’s not, it’s ultimately at the end of the day, delivering. And this PMA is working on making it that way. 

Rachel Klein-Kircher: Right. And it’s not Democrat, Republican, Independent. It’s not a partisan should not be a partisan issue. This is simply about serving the public serving government employees, trying to make government better. 

Transition Music 

Loren DeJonge Schulman: 

 So that’s our show, thanks so much for listening! If you haven’t already, please follow or subscribe to “Profiles in Public Service” wherever you get your podcasts.  

Rachel Klein-Kircher:  

You can also check this episode’s show notes to learn more about today’s topic and be sure to follow the Partnership for Public Service on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Instagram to find out about future episodes!   

Loren DeJonge Schulman:  

“Profiles in Public Service” is created by the Partnership for Public Service.   

Rachel Klein-Kircher: Our writer and producer is Abigail Alpern Fisch.  

Loren DeJonge Schulman: Our script supervisor is Barry Goldberg.  

Rachel Klein-Kircher: And our executive producer is Jordan LaPier.   

Loren DeJonge Schulman: See you next time!