January 2017
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The Public Manager

Sharing Information Early and Often Benefits All Parties

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Nothing is engulfing the federal government more than the transition to a new presidential administration. In the previous several months, this publication has covered how to make this transition smooth in 2017, and this issue is no different. But what is different about this month's interview with Martha Kumar in the Insider's View is the focus; it is all about communication and collaboration.


As Kumar explains, a smooth transition involves "gathering and sharing info early." Agencies have been working on this transition for a while, Kumar says, and hopefully that early work will make the transition a smooth one.

"The career people in agencies have a stake in making sure the new people have good information on who is there and what their backgrounds are," says Kumar. "They also have a stake in having them know what programs they're working on, the state of those programs, and any issues programs are facing.… One thing that's difficult for current leaders is that their first duty is to carry out the sitting administration's agenda. If that's setting or checking rules and regulations, for example, that's what they've got to focus on, number one. But then they also have a stake in preparing well for the new team because that's how you have continuity."

As new political appointees enter the government workforce, career employees have a responsibility to help these new leaders understand their agency's work. This requires them to communicate clearly and respectfully about what's working and what isn't and any risks on the horizon, all while doing their best to understand the new administration's priorities and possible goals. Past and present government leaders—Alan Balutis, Myra Howze Shiplett, and Jessica Southwell—reflect on what they've learned from previous transitions and consider what kinds of information government leaders will need to share with their new colleagues in the Perspectives column.

Other articles in this issue examine how government can balance the drive for innovative thinking with preserving a level playing field in acquisition, how to make a good first impression, and the efforts agencies are making to improve hiring and retention of people with disabilities. I hope you find this content valuable in your efforts to improve your workplace.

About the Author

Paula Ketter is ATD's content strategist. Previously, she served as editor of ATD's periodicals.

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