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The Bar HAS Been Raised
by Craig A. Anderson
Article from Global Insights
March 2004

The other morning I was having breakfast with a colleague who has worked for years
in a variety of high technology jobs along the I-270 "Technology Corridor" in
Montgomery County, Maryland, when the issue of management reform inside the
Federal government. My friend, probably representative of many private sector
managers around the country, quickly asserted that "the effort to reinvent government
failed completely" and tried to send the conversation in a different direction. Perhaps
I was feeling especially feisty due to excessive amounts of caffeine, but I pushed
back at him. I pointed out how the climate in virtually every Federal organization I visit
today is crisper, more business-like, and more professional, than ten years ago. I
talked about how we now take for granted that Federal organizations have
customers, and that government agencies are working hard to implement
customer-friendly websites. More often than not I am PLEASANTLY surprised when I
visit a government website I haven't seen in a while. Even the IRS, never famous of
excellent customer service, has embraced this customer-first philosophy, and
provides a mountain of easy to use information on its website. Putting together the
corporate information we needed to give our accountant to do our 1120 this year
was almost painless thanks to the intuitive layout and content of the IRS's Small
Business website.

Further, as a small business executive, I am thrilled to see the persistent emphasis in
Federal agencies to reach out to the small business community as possible
providers of goods and services. The message that "small business is good
business" seems to be more than lip service today.

It is sometimes hard to see large changes that occur gradually over many years, but
to this regular "customer" of government services and information, what I see looks
more like a tidal wave of change than an effort that "failed completely"!