Fix-Government-Fast Reform Agenda: The Case for Major Government Reform
October 16, 2020
Joe Biden left the Democratic Party convention in August with the nomination and a “build-back-better” plan for clean energy, new jobs, closing the racial wealth gap, and economic renewal. He also left with the 110-page Biden-Sanders plan to restore Donald Trump’s budget cuts, reverse his regulatory rollbacks, attack corporate greed, combat the climate crisis, confront COVID-19, pursue environmental justice, repair the infrastructure, create jobs, and raise the minimum wage. “Folks, it’s not sufficient to build back,” Biden said in early July. “That’s why my plan is to build back better.”
The John Brademas Center at New York University welcomed Professor Paul C. Light as he made a case for a fix-government-fast reform agenda that provides a framework and game plan for a first Biden administration. Trump could adopt the agenda, too, but would need discipline to make it work. Joining the Dialogue was Kathryn Tenpas from the Miller Center at the University of Virginia and Brookings Institution, Danielle Brian from the Project on Government Oversight, and Tom Shoop from Government Executive, who acted as moderator.
Danielle Brian, Executive Director, Project On Government Oversight (POGO)
Danielle Brian is the Executive Director of the Project On Government Oversight (POGO). Under her leadership, the organization has grown from two employees and a budget in the thousands of dollars in 1993 to an organization with over forty staff and a budget of six million.
POGO is a nonpartisan independent government watchdog whose investigations into corruption, misconduct, and conflicts of interest achieve a more effective, accountable, and ethical federal government.
Ms. Brian has testified before Congress over 40 times.
In the past decade, POGO’s work has resulted in
- the passage of the Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act, the Freedom of Information Reform Act, and the Inspectors General Enhancement Act;
- exposing and removing of conflicts of interest at the Securities Exchange Commission, the Department of Interior and the FDA;
- saving the Office of Congressional Ethics and preventing the gutting of the Congressional Budget Office; and
- training over 2,100 Congressional staff on how to effectively use their oversight powers.
POGO’s investigative work under her stewardship has received journalism awards such as the Sigma Delta Chi award, the Robert D.G. Lewis Watchdog Journalism Award, the Dateline Award, and others. POGO has received the highest reviews for organizational and financial performance from the three largest charity evaluators in the country: Charity Navigator, Better Business Bureau, and Greatnonprofits.org.
Ms. Brian has been recognized by the National Journal as one of the top 50 people changing the game in Washington, receiving top rankings for her impact and innovation in the field of political activism. She is a member of the Freedom of Information Act Hall of Fame, and received the Smith College Medal. Danielle received her Bachelor of Arts in Government from Smith College, and her Master’s Degree in International Relations from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.
Paul C. Light, Paulette Gooddard Professor of Public Service, NYU Wagner School of Public Service
Dr. Paul C. Light is Paulette Goddard Professor of Public Service at New York University's Wagner School of Public Service, a nonresident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, and a nonresident senior fellow of the Volcker Alliance.
Mr. Light came to NYU after serving as vice president and director of governmental studies at the Brookings Institution, designing new initiatives for civic engagement as the director of the public policy program at the Pew Charitable Trusts, educating future public servants as professor and associate dean of the University of Minnesota’s Hubert H. Humphrey Institute, strengthening public management as a senior advisor to US Senator John Glenn and the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, and overseeing the research agenda at the National Academy of Public Administration.
Mr. Light was also a special consultant to the 1988 National Commission on the Public Service, which was chaired by former Federal Reserve Board chairman, Paul A. Volcker, and has advised Mr. Volcker on public service issues ever since. He is a frequent commentator on public service, has testified on public service issues before the US Congress three dozen times over the past two decades, and is the author twenty-six books, of which four have won national book awards. His most recent book is The Government-Industrial Complex: Tracking the True Size of Government, 1984-2019.
Tom Shoop, Executive Vice President and Editor in Chief, Government Executive Media Group
Tom Shoop is executive vice president and editor in chief at Government Executive Media Group, where he oversees editorial operations at Government Executive, Nextgov, Defense One and Route Fifty. He started as associate editor of Government Executive magazine in 1989; launched the company’s flagship website, GovExec.com, in 1996; and was named editor in chief in 2007.
Kathryn Tenpas, Senior Fellow, Miller Center at the University of Virginia; Nonresident Senior Fellow of Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution
Kathryn Dunn Tenpas is a nonresident senior fellow with Governance Studies and a fellow and secretary of the Governance Institute.
Dr. Tenpas’ research addresses the intersection between the presidency and politics, including presidential reelection campaigns, and trends in presidential travel and polling expenses. She has also looked at White House staffing, with a particular focus on turnover rates and individual White House entities like the Office of Political Affairs, Office of Faith-based and Community Initiatives, and Staff Secretary. Dr. Tenpas has authored the book Presidents as Candidates: Inside the White House for the Presidential Campaign, and published over thirty articles, book chapters and papers on these topics. Recent publications include, a Political Science Quarterly article, “First Term Presidential Travel from Eisenhower to George W. Bush: The Emergence of an ‘Electoral College’ Strategy” (with Charnock and McCann), a book chapter titled, “The State of the Union Address: Process, Politics and Promotion,” and a Public Opinion Quarterly article, “Testing the Permanence of the Permanent Campaign: An Analysis of Presidential Polling Expenditures, 1977-2002” (with McCann).
In addition to her scholarly contributions, she serves as a participant in the University of Virginia’s oral history project at the Miller Center, which involves high-level interviews with members of the Bush administration (1989-1993), Clinton administration and Bush II administration (2001-2009). In preparation for the 2000-2001 and 2008-2009 presidential transitions, she was a member of The White House Project, in which she prepared a study of the White House Office of the Staff Secretary. She also served two terms on the Board of the American Political Science Association’s Presidency Research Group, a national organization for presidency scholars. She has participated in numerous interviews with television, radio and print journalists, appearing in publications such as USA Today, The Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal and on national news programs with NPR, NBC, CNN and Fox News.
Dr. Tenpas’ academic positions include her current affiliation with the University of Pennsylvania, as a Senior Fellow at the Weidenbaum Center at Washington University in St. Louis, and an Associate Professorship in the Department of Government and International Affairs at the University of South Florida. While there, she directed the Political Science Honors Program and the Washington, D.C. internship program. From 1992-1993, she was a guest scholar with Leiden University in the Netherlands.
Dr. Tenpas earned her B.A. from Georgetown University in 1985, and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia (in 1989 and 1993, respectively). She lives in Maryland with her husband and two sons.