The Federal Management Playbook

Leading and Succeeding in the Public Sector

Ira Goldstein
Foreword by Tom Davis, former US Congressman

"Goldstein provides a thoughtful, comprehensive look at how a federal manager can start managing more effectively right away. "
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Stories of government management failures often make the headlines, but quietly much gets done as well. What makes the difference? Ira Goldstein offers wisdom about how to lead and succeed in the federal realm, even during periods when the political climate is intensely negative, based on his decades of experience as a senior executive at two major government consulting firms and as a member of the US federal government's Senior Executive Service.

The Federal Management Playbook coaches the importance of always keeping four key concepts in mind when planning for success: goals, stakeholders, resources, and time frames. Its chapters address how to effectively motivate government employees, pick the right technologies, communicate and negotiate with powerful stakeholders, manage risks, get value from contractors, foster innovation, and more. Goldstein makes lessons easy to apply by breaking each chapter’s plans into three strategic phases: create an offensive strategy, execute your plan effectively, and play a smart defense. Additional tips describe how career civil servants and political appointees can get the most from one another, advise consultants on providing value to government, and help everyone better manage ever-present oversight.

The Federal Management Playbook is a must-read for anyone working in the government realm and for students who aspire to public service.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Tom Davis
Preface and Acknowledgements
Introduction: Why This Book?
1. Key Dimensions of Success
2. Empowering Your Most Valuable Asset—Your People
3. Managing the Complex New World of Technology
4. Creating and Leading a Well-Designed Organization
5. Communications—What’s the Good Word?
6. Getting Value from Contracting
7. Risk-Based Decision Making
8. The Wide Wonderful World of Innovation
9. Tips for Living with Oversight Organizations
10. Tips for Political Appointees Managing Civil Servants
11. Tips for Civil Servants “Managing” Political Appointees
12. Tips for Consultants—and the Feds Who Use Them
Conclusion: Four Common Threads
Appendix: Summary of Key Takeaways
About the Author


"Goldstein provides a thoughtful, comprehensive look at how a federal manager can start managing more effectively right away."—The Public Manager

"This is one of the best books I have ever read on how to improve the operations of government. Ira Goldstein has had a forty-five year career as a senior government official in Washington and also as a senior consultant with two major consulting firms—Deloitte and Arthur Andersen. Anyone, elected officials, presidential appointees, career government executives, consultants, and even young government recruits, would benefit from reading this book in order to assist them in achieving success when working in or for the government."—Charles A. Bowsher, Retired Comptroller General of the United States, Former Assistant Secretary of the Navy, and retired partner of Accenture

"Far too often these days, public service is denigrated. It’s easy to point to failures—failures rooted in politics as well as management—in the administration of public policies. Ira Goldstein has a different perspective in The Federal Management Playbook. Government is important. It’s not going to go away and it’s enormously complex. We’ve got to do better. We need good 'bureaucrats'—skilled, committed, experienced career officials. We also need political direction and oversight, and these days we need competent consultants and contractors. The Playbook hammers home ways and means of working together to achieve the effective and efficient execution of public policies that we want and deserve."—Paul A. Volcker, Chairman, The Volcker Alliance

"I have long believed that government can be a powerful force for positive change. But too often, progress is hampered by preventable breakdowns in leadership. Ira Goldstein’s blueprint for effective management — even in the face of unpredictable challenges, like budget stalemates in Congress — offers valuable guidance to fully harness the power of our talented federal workforce to improve the lives of every American."—Chris Van Hollen, Congressman, Maryland's 8th District

"This book offers a penetrating overview of the challenges involved in managing federal agencies during a time of challenging deficits, record polarization and rising public expectations. The book delivers numerous important insights, gleaned from the author's distinguished career as a leader in federal agencies and major consulting firms. Importantly, many of the cases covered offer positive examples of hard working senior managers achieving reform and change — a refreshing antidote to the prevailing cynicism about public service."—Paul Posner, Director of Public Administration, George Mason University

"Ira Goldstein is a modern day Chester Barnard offering wise insights, stories, and tips based on his years working at the highest levels of U.S. government. This book is a must read for anyone seeking to be successful in the business of government at any level."—Rosemary O'Leary, Edwin O. Stene Distinguished Professor, School of Public Affairs and Administration, University of Kansas


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Ira Goldstein is a founder and former director of Deloitte’s US Federal Practice, providing consulting and advisory services to large federal agencies and departments. He previously held the position in the federal government of the US Assistant Comptroller General and Chief Operating Officer of the US Government Accountability Office.

336 pp., 6 x 9
6 sidebars, 10 figures, 1 table
Oct 2016

336 pp., 6 x 9
6 sidebars, 10 figures, 1 table
ISBN: 978-1-62616-372-0
Oct 2016

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