We're happy to announce the opening of "Transparency for Trust," a new section of the NetAge website. Here, you'll find the org chart of the new US administration as President-elect Obama fills those positions...
...and our continued tracking of the rather dramatic developments in the economy.
The map is important. It allows a level of transparency unfamiliar to most of us. Who walks around with an org chart of the government in their head? Not me. And given that the government is now literally giving out our money in ways they never have before, it's mandatory that we at least be able to "see" it.
Today and tomorrow, we're posting (in two parts) the essay we've written about "Transparency for Trust," critical ingredients, we believe, to rebuilding our government and our economy. We welcome feedback of all sorts
Transparency for Trust: Mapping the Government and Our Money: Part 1
By Jeffrey Stamps and Jessica Lipnack
What do Barack Obama and Neel Kashkari have in common? One well known, the other not so much, but both are young men shaping this moment of transforming change. Both need organizational transparency to be successful, a way to see the new government taking shape and its now-burgeoning role in the economy.
On Monday, October 6, the US government, under threat of imminent global financial meltdown, gave birth to a new agency and handed it a budget equal to twice the expense to date of the Iraq War.
Unprecedented in US—and perhaps world—history, the Office of Financial Stability has few, if any, successful organizational models to follow. And, the 451-page bill authorizing its creation offers zero guidance in regard to its structure.
Common sense suggests that the OFS, as it already is known, is likely to yield an unwieldy bureaucratic edifice, a clumsy construct of the same Industrial-Era thinking that produced the debacle in the first place.
Neel Kashkari, the former Goldman Sachs executive appointed to head the new agency set out in the “Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008,” would be well advised to bring transparency not only to his financial decisions but to his organizational ones as well.
On Tuesday, November 4, the American people selected Barack Obama as their next President. President-Elect Obama is already a fan of transparency and made it a staple of his campaign narrative. His early and deep interest is indicated by his co-authorship of the “Google for Government” law.
Known to some, but completely unknown to most, the bipartisan Coburn-Obama Bill directed the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to create a searchable database of almost $3 trillion (in 2007 dollars) in federal grants. Officially the “Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006,” it was the first law Barack Obama introduced when he came to the Senate. The legislation called for tracking contracts, earmarks, direct payments, and loans by January 1, 2008. OMB made its deadline (see www.USAspending.gov for the result of this useful piece of 21st-century legislation).
Why is transparency so important? In a word, trust. “Trust, but verify,” said Ronald Reagan. Only trust with openness and verification will allow widespread confidence to develop, which is the key to market recovery. The word “credit,” after all, comes from the Latin credere, “to believe in or trust.”
Trust is also the basic coin of the political realm. Trust in and of the People grows social capital within the body politic. Today, however, trust will only come through transparency. It is key to rebuilding confidence in government, especially as it dramatically changes to meet the accelerating challenges of our time.
Given the urgency of cleaning up so many messes and restoring a modicum of faith in government, the new administration should make mapping newly-vacant positions from the top down an initial priority. A relatively small network of a few thousand political appointees soon will move into these key positions, hubs in the vast bureaucratic networks they will lead. Real organizational transparency can begin here.
But this is past and future government organization and visualization. Right now, new structures and cross-cutting relationships of the economic rescue efforts are being formed and vast sums committed.
On Monday, October 13, with markets surging to record levels, Kashkari announced the outline of the new structure, and several key appointments. However, much of OFS’s work is about to be outsourced. On the very day that OFS came to life, the Treasury Department announced it would hire a single company to act as the “financial agent” to set up the whole system.
We are poised to fail before we start. With minimal oversight and jargon-ridden reports guaranteed to lag, mistakes and problems with the warp-speed implementation of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) will accumulate, likely causing more harm than good. For starters, the Financial Stability Oversight Board is five levels away from the OFS organization in Treasury.
Trust will develop with real transparency that gives everyone a shared picture of what’s going on as the program progresses, not after the fact. Who runs it? Who works for whom? Who has control of which aspect of the project? From the outset, we can chart the $700 billion territory as it emerges.
See tomorrow for Part II...